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Carol Patterson Niemann

Obituary for Carol Patterson Niemann

May 24, 1939 - January 7, 2019
Austin, Texas | Age 79

Her name was "Sweetheart" to her husband, "Mom" to her daughters, and "Cita" to her grandchildren.


This is an amazing story about a woman who was remarkable and humble beyond belief and who was loved by more people than you could possibly imagine. She was a wonderful wife and an untiring mother of three incredible daughters. She became a paraplegic from an airplane crash four months after her marriage 53 years ago and was confined to her wheelchair until the end of her life at age 79. But she never let her disability deter her from being a ray of sunshine to all in her presence. She was a very special person to everyone who knew her. She always did for others and not herself. She never complained about her handicap and rarely, if ever, said an unkind word about anyone. She was gracious to all. She was so gentle and easy to talk to and comfortable to be with. Her bravery and strength were easily evident. She was beautiful…even more so inside. She passed away suddenly and peacefully with her three daughters and her husband at her side. Her name was "Sweetheart" to her husband, "Mom" to her daughters, and "Cita" to her grandchildren.

Her other name was Carol Jean Patterson Niemann.

Carol was born May 24, 1939 in Austin, Texas and was the daughter of Woodrow Wilson Patterson and Eileen Bertha Wilson Patterson. She left us on January 7, 2019 after a brief illness. During her lifetime, she found endless (and often hilarious) ways to accomplish her goals, all the while maintaining her endearing southern belle kindness and poise. One such example that she often recounted to her family with a twinkle in her eye was her meticulous and masterful plan to make sure a young man she wanted to date took note of her. For weeks she and her girlfriends set up residence at church a few pews in front of him. At the end of the service she scurried out to make sure she could "happen to be standing" in just the right place outside of the sanctuary to catch his eye. Needless to say, her plan succeeded and that fellow churchgoer, Larry Niemann, became her husband for more than a half century.

Carol grew up the eldest of six children. Her childhood and early adulthood was a charming and eclectic mix of pet ducks, sock hops, dove hunts, waterskiing, tennis tournaments, Barton Springs swimming, black tie galas, and memorable times with so many different people, many of whom she treasured as lifelong friends from Stephen F. Austin High School and her beloved Alpha Phi Sorority at The University of Texas. She was and remained to her death a stunning beauty, both inside and out.

After graduating from UT, she applied her energy to teaching, serving as a public school special education teacher in Annapolis, Maryland and later in Austin at Pease Elementary and O.Henry Junior High. She married Larry on August 7, 1965. Just four months later on their way to a skiing vacation, she and Larry were passengers in a private airplane that crashed. The crash left her paralyzed from the waist down. That permanent disability would put her resourcefulness to the test...and she passed with flying colors for the remainder of her life. She endured many months of hospitalization after the crash, but her spirit persisted and she poured herself into motherhood, family, and volunteerism.

Her many volunteer roles and accolades include being president of Austin March of Dimes, Alpha Phi Austin Alumni Club, Delta Delta Delta Parents' Club, Junior Austin Woman's Club, University Ladies Club, Austin Lawyer's Auxiliary, and Texas Lawyer's Auxiliary. She also served as an officer or executive committee member of Austin Nature Center, Carousel Dance Club, Helping Hand Home for Children, the PTAs of all her daughters' schools, St. David's Hospital Rehabilitation Advisory Board, and UT-Austin College of Education Dean's Association. She was most recently honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Texas Lawyers Auxiliary.

Although she gave much in her volunteer roles, her most precious role was that of "Mom". Hers was always the Pied Piper house. All her daughters' friends loved to come there. Many friends were so close (and Carol so resourceful!) that just like her own daughters, her daughters' friends were cheerfully assigned chores at the house. Somehow Carol made them fun. Her kind, caring, and fun-loving nature shone from her like a beacon. Always a good listener and always looking out for others, scores of her daughters' friends throughout the years came to view Carol as a second mother. When her girls were very young, she would load them into the car, pull her wheelchair in behind her, and drive the girls to their activities--not only in Austin but also to tennis tournaments all over the state. If a curb stopped her and her little girls were not yet strong enough to get her up over the curb, she would simply wait until a stranger came along to help.

Later in life she relished the role of grandmother to her four grandchildren. For many years, she and Larry took full advantage of their lakehouse getaway in Horseshoe Bay to often bring the family together for player piano playing, fishing, sailing, motorboating, sunset viewing, margarita making, piñata busting, football watching, and card and board games (which curiously she "never seemed to have played before" but always seemed to win.)

Her grandkids treasured their "Cita" and her endless supply of breakfast bacon, smoothies, microwave popcorn, ice cream, and most of all love. We feel so fortunate to have had the most wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and role model any family could have asked for.

Carol is survived by her husband of 53 years, Larry Harkness Niemann, and by her daughters Connie Catherine Heyer of Austin, Sherry Suzanne Willerson and her husband Trey of Houston, and Nancy Nicole Weeks and her husband Jamie of Stanley, Idaho. She is survived by four grandchildren, Nicole Catherine Heyer, William (Will) Thomas Heyer, William Darrell ("Dare") Willerson IV, and Hale August Willerson. She is survived by her siblings Don (Carroll) Patterson, Kirk (Carol) Patterson, Susan Patterson Johnson, Scott (Carolyn) Patterson, and by many nieces, nephews, cousins. She is predeceased by her parents Woodrow and Eileen Patterson and her sister Connie Patterson.

Her strength and spirit will be remembered by every person who knew her. A celebration of her life will be held February 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm at the Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church at the corner of Bee Cave Road and Barton Creek Boulevard (7127 Bee Cave Road, Austin, Texas 78746). Reception to immediately follow. Donations in her memory may be made to the Helping Hand Home for Children in Austin; or flowers are welcome at the church.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Donations in her memory may be made to the Helping Hand Home for Children in Austin; or flowers are welcome at the church.

Arrangements By

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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