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Carolynn D. Nellis October 21, 1943 - July 14, 2022

Carolynn D. Nellis, a long-time resident of Overland Park, Kansas, died Thursday, July 14, 2022. She was in hospice care for several weeks following a recent decline in her health.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 4 p.m. Friday Aug.12 at Christ Community Church, 20600 West 119th Street, Olathe, Kansas.

Carolynn was born Oct. 21, 1943, in Kearney, Nebraska, the eldest child of Victor and Eveliene Laird.

From the beginning in a one-room country school in Nebraska, education was important to Carolynn throughout her life.

She graduated from Kearney Senior High School in 1961, and attended Newman School of Nursing in Emporia, Kansas, where she earned a degree as a Registered Nurse in 1966. Carolynn earned a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Emporia State University in 1979, and a master’s degree in liberal arts from Baker University in 1992.

Carolynn worked throughout her career as a nurse in many roles, including in the emergency room in Emporia where she was shocked to discover that some local emergency ambulance crews were not trained in life-saving skills. This started Carolynn on a campaign to bring awareness to the need for better trained emergency medical teams.

That led Carolynn to broaden her career focus to include classroom teaching, first as an EMT instructor evenings and weekends at Emporia State and later at the Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, which is recognized nationally as a leader in emergency medical services education. At JCCC, Carolynn was a classroom instructor and program coordinator prior to her retirement. Meanwhile, she also continued to work as an emergency room nurse. Carolynn was a role model and mentor for hundreds of students and created life long connections with her coworkers.

In retirement, Carolynn enjoyed traveling, attending live theatrical and musical events, and spending time with friends and family. She moved to Boise, Idaho, about 2 years ago to be closer to family for support as her health declined.

She is survived by her sister Aletha Jane Diedrich of Billings, Montana; her brother Rox Laird of Des Moines, Iowa; her son Karl Darby (Angie Frazier) of St. Ignatius Montana; her daughter Marla Covey (Doug), of Boise; and grandchildren Virginia Marsh, Danielle Darby, Meredith, Caroline and Anders Covey.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Carolynn’s memory to the Johnson County Community College Foundation for scholarships to assist EMT students. Mail contributions to JCCC Foundation, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS 66210. Or donations may be made online at jccc.edu/donate.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 4 p.m. Friday Aug.12 at Christ Community Church, 20600 West 119th Street, Olathe, Kansas.


  1. REPLY
    Jamie Koch Gottlob says

    Karl and Marla, So sorry to hear about your mom’s passing. I shared your Facebook post with my mom because she worked with your mom at Newmans ER in Emporia. It’s so hard losing a parent and my prayers and with you. RIP Carolynn 🙏🏻

  2. REPLY
    Margie McKenzie says

    I miss my friend and pal. We had many adventures together when she lived in Overland Park. I learned a lot from this very intelligent lady.

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