Carolyn Gates

February 7, 1943July 28, 2014

CAROLYN ALCORN FERGUSON GATES February 7, 1943 – July 28, 2014

Carolyn Ferguson Gates spread beauty wherever she went—from her singing to her saving compassion for others to opening the hospitality of her home to extending that hospitality into decorating for the community, to the friendships and relationships she nurtured and cherished all through her life to the very end. She sought with every breath to make each life around her more full of grace and beauty. After more than a three-year fight with cancer, Carolyn left us and went to join her friends and relatives. Memorial Funeral services will be held 4:00 PM, Friday, August 1, 2014 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church with a Life celebration afterwards. Burial was private. She died at home surrounded by her family and friends. Carolyn was the daughter of the late James David Alcorn and Edith Hall Alcorn of Eden, North Carolina. She began her singing career at Spray Baptist Church and earned a full music scholarship from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She was named Young Artist of the Year in South Carolina in recognition of her beautiful voice. She declined the opportunity to sing professionally to focus on being a mother to her newborn twin sons, Patrick and David. She sang in the choir of St. Thomas Episcopal Church and later the choir at St. Luke United Methodist Church. She was an educator with 32 years’ service. She earned a BA degree in Music Education and Master’s degrees in Music and Education Administration from the University of South Carolina, an Education Specialist degree in School Counseling from Georgia State University, an Education Specialist Certification in Administration and Supervision from Columbus State University, and in 1991, a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Georgia. She started her career teaching English in Melbourne, Florida. She moved to Columbus, Georgia, in 1971, where she worked as a counselor for the Urban League of Columbus. She taught at Oliver Elementary School in Seale, Alabama, and in Columbus, Georgia, where she took her first counseling position at Spencer High School. She was invited to attend the first Presidential Workshop on the Drug Free School Program. Carolyn then became the first director of the program in the Muscogee County School District, where she added the new Safe Schools Program. She successfully implemented these programs and secured grants to fund them with little cost to the school district. When the position of director of Guidance for the Muscogee County School District became available, she was named to that position as well. She established and implemented the DARE program, GREAT Program, Drug Free You and Me, Red Ribbon, Peer Helpers, Depression Screening and Suicide Awareness Program, the Smoke Free Class of 2000. From 1989 to 1993 she was selected to serve as state coordinator for Law Related Education in Drug Education by the University of Georgia. After retiring from MCSD, she taught in the department of Education Administration at Columbus State University. Carolyn served on the boards of Feeding the Valley, the American Lung Association, Rape Crisis Inc., Contact, and the House of T.I.M.E. and was a past president of the Student Club and Columbus Mental Health Association. In 2010 she was named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia Inc. After earning her Doctorate, she married the love of her life, Tom Gates of Columbus, Georgia. Carolyn and Tom went on to run the popular Gates House Bed and Breakfast in Columbus’ beautiful Historic District for 16 years. Survivors, in addition to Tom, include her twin sons, David Ferguson and his partner Benjamin Milano of Athens, Georgia, and Patrick Ferguson and his wife Lisa of Bishop, Georgia. She was tremendously fond of her two granddaughters, Mariana Calle and Anna Kate Ferguson, to whom she was known as “Ami,”and her stepsons, Carter Calle and Christian Calle and his wife Monica. She is also survived by her loving stepdaughter, Stacey Gates, of Denver, Colorado, who was her special caregiver and confidante, and her brother-in-law James Gates and his wife Sally. Tom and Carolyn often hosted large gatherings of friends and loved ones at the Gates House. She was most at home when she was surrounded by the people she loved. She will be remembered as a loving wife, a caring mother, a doting grandmother, a generous hostess, a diligent educator, and a constant friend and mentor. She will be missed for her tremendous generosity, her irreverent sense of humor, her infectious laugh, her profound commitment to honesty, her patience and gentleness with her granddaughters and perhaps most for her fearless, loving commitment to her husband, Tom. In lieu of flowers, donations in Carolyn’s honor may be made to Feeding the Valley or The House of T.I.M.E. Striffler-Hamby Funeral Home in Columbus is in charge of the arrangements.


Carolyn Gates

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James and Rosa Stewart

August 31, 2014

To Carolyn's family we were sorry to hear about her passing. As the strong, caring and blessed woman she was, she will be missed by many. I will cherish the memories of our time together and thank God for her presence in my life. In the days ahead, allow the memories of Carolyn to bring you comfort, but better yet, cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. Our prayers for peace, love and understanding go out to the family.

August 8, 2014

To the Gates family, I am a stranger to your family but I took care of Mrs. Gates when she was a patient at St Francis. Occasionally a patient makes a lasting impression on us and that was Mrs. Gates. She was so kind and complimentary of our skills and our care. She had the ability to make everyone in the room feel special. We loved and admired her courage. You are in our prayers. Susan Harris

Rontia Stephens-Baptiste

August 5, 2014

Tom, you are in my prayers. The angels are watching over you,and now Carolyn has become one of those angels. She was a beautiful lady and I am glad that I had the opportunity to know her both as a student and as a mentor. She will be missed but never forgotten.

melissa pasko whiddon

August 5, 2014

mrs ferguson was my school counselor at Spencer High ,when i had a problem she was always there rest in peace mrs ferguson so sorry for your loss may you find peace to the family.

Gale Pough

August 5, 2014

So sorry to hear this yeah I was in her class at prayer goes out to the family.

Louise O'Kelley

August 4, 2014

So sorry.

Jed Harris

August 4, 2014

Condolences to Tom Gates and family. Carolyn was an exceptional lady. She will certainly be missed.

Jim Pope

August 2, 2014

Our Deepest Sympathy…
Jim and Claire Pope

Wayne Leising

August 2, 2014

May the God of Peace bring healing and comfort to all of Carolyn's family and friends. Carolyn was such a loving and beautiful spirit.

Nancy Thrasher

August 1, 2014

My Life was enriched by God allowing me to have spent time with Carolyn - She was the epitome of love and grace - What a powerful woman