Carole Lee Carroll, 82, of York, ME passed peacefully on October 16th, 2021, surrounded by family. She will be remembered by many for her great friendship, talent, creativity and extensive knowledge. An avid reader and researcher, she had a life-long love of theater, music, art and history, and enjoyed travels to fascinating places in the world with her close friends.
After a successful professional career in New York as a theatre and television designer, Carole Lee Carroll retired to Ogunquit, where she had spent summers since early childhood. Her extensive knowledge of its history was encapsulated in a new role as Curator of the Ogunquit Heritage Museum, where she became committed to sharing her appreciation of the area’s storied past. Those who encountered her were uplifted by her intelligence, generosity, painstaking research and passion in creating exhibits that showcased the history of the village and its people. In 2007, she co-authored the book, The Ogunquit Playhouse 75 years: America’s Foremost Summer Theatre.
Born in 1938 in Scranton, Pa., she shared a Christmas Day birthday with her mother. Her parents, Francis L. and Elizabeth Dixon, were long time residents of Ogunquit, beginning in1938 when he was technical director at the Ogunquit Playhouse and general manager of the Manhattan Theatre Colony. The young Carole Lee spent time in and around the Playhouse and its associated Colony and was inspired to study theatre design. She went on to earn both a BFA and MFA in theater arts from Boston University under the tutelage of designers Raymond Sovey and Horace Armistead.
After graduating, she divided her time between New York City and Ogunquit. She became a scenic artist and set designer at the Ogunquit Playhouse in the 1960s and was an accomplished set designer in New York City for Broadway shows and television. She worked under famed scenic and lighting designer Jo Mielziner in the 1960s, and later with scenic and lighting designers William Ritman, David Mitchell and Neil Peter Jampolis, among others, on operas and Broadway plays, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Deathtrap, and Orpheus Descending. She was a television scenic artist for The Tomorrow Show, The Late Late Show with David Letterman, and Saturday Night Live. For the last 20 years of her career, she served as art director for The Today Show. A multi-talented designer and artist, she painted, drew and translated her many skills to architecture, designing houses in Ogunquit.
In 1966, Carole Lee became the mother of twin daughters, Sarah and Alice. A devoted mother, she provided them with love, support and opportunities. From day one, she wove the arts into their lives, sharing time and enthusiasm with weekends at Lincoln Center watching the best of ballet and opera and weekdays backstage at Broadway shows and NBC studios. When Sarah and Alice had families of their own, her art lessons and inspiration continued, along with a tenacious love and encouragement of all her grandchildren's endeavors. She found great pleasure in spending long days with her daughters and grandchildren at the beach, going apple picking, visiting museums and galleries and attending horseback riding competitions.
Carole Lee Carroll is predeceased by her parents and sister Gale Dixon. She is survived by her daughters and their families: Sarah Johanna Carroll, her partner Kevin McPartland, and their daughters Daniela and Ivona; and Alice Johanna Carroll Bair, her husband Brian Bair, and their sons Alexander, Taylor and Parker.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Ogunquit Heritage Museum or the Ogunquit Playhouse Foundation.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:30pm on Thursday, October 28th in the Blue Bistro Restaurant at the Beachmere Inn, 62 Beachmere Place, Ogunquit, Maine 03907.