Carol Appleton (1937-2023)

Dear University Community:

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the sad news of the passing of our dear friend, Carol Appleton. A former first lady, Carol graciously served our University alongside President and Chancellor Jim Appleton for a combined total of 25 years, leaving behind an amazing legacy and void in our lives.

After graduating from Wheaton College, Carol taught art in elementary and secondary schools. She did post-graduate work at Wayne State University and Michigan State University and earned a master’s degree in painting and drawing from Long Beach State University. As first lady, Carol played a significant role in the work of the president’s office. On the University’s behalf, Carol met with many people who, because of her, deepened their commitment to the university and became major supporters.

“Carol’s enthusiasm for the U of R was visible,” said Jim. “Her willingness to engage in its progress was very impressive and contagious.”

Carol and Jim were both awarded an honorary degree in 2005 by the University, and Carol served on the Board of Directors of Town & Gown for many years. Carol and Jim are also members of the Montgomery Society and Cortner Society.

An accomplished artist, Carol has exhibited in individual, and group shows, and completed a series of large oil paintings inspired by the Greek islands. In early 2000, she was a featured artist for the Alumni Art Gallery. She also taught art at our Salzburg campus and is remembered fondly by students. Most recently, she completed a series of pieces related to COVID and her own illness – translating the challenges we collectively endured into a touching visual representation.

“Carol drew energy from working long hours alone in her Canyon studio,” Jim noted. “Frequently she would emerge at the end of the day completely exhausted and messy, only to transform quickly into the graceful and glamorous partner she was when performing University responsibilities. She called it emerging from moth to butterfly.”

Our hearts are broken as we reflect on Jim’s devotion to Carol throughout their 63 years of marriage. Carol and Jim Appleton are not simply historical figures in our University’s distinguished history, they are our family, and we are theirs.

Throughout their tenure, the Appleton team left an indelible mark on our University, perhaps most evidenced by their work to transform the campus itself, leading to a $160 million investment in physical plant and technology infrastructure. This was one of many extraordinary achievements that directly contributed to the quality of the educational experience for both students and faculty.

Photos of Carol Appleton:

If you wish to share your personal condolences with the Appleton family, please direct them through one of the following channels:

By mail: University of Redlands, Office of the President, P.O. Box 3080, Redlands, CA 92373

By email:

Jim has invited the University community to a celebration of Carol’s life at the First Presbyterian Church in the heart of downtown Redlands at 2 p.m. on February 4, with a reception to follow.


Krista Newkirk signature

Krista L. Newkirk