By Dr. Lisa Chappell
Dr. Carolyn Sue Thomas Chappell’s daughters, Dr. Lisa Chappell and MaQua “Missy” Chappell announced her passing with great sorrow. Carolyn was a kind, brave, caring, loyal, supportive, creative, talented, and generous mom, sister and friend who was surrounded by loved ones at home in Texas when she passed on March 31, 2023.
Born on May 2, 1951, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Carolyn was the daughter of Josephine Washington Thomas and Arthur Lee Thomas. Her mother was a sweet and caring person who looked after her children while still working, and her father was an entrepreneur who owned Thomas and Son’s Barbershop and Dairy and was a photographer for large events in Tulsa and surrounding areas.
Carolyn was a member of the BTW Hornets and Class of 1969.
Carolyn moved to California early in life to start her career as an actress and writer. She loved writing and started her career as a writer. She was a singer in the Sound Band and wrote songs for other artist, unfortunately, she didn’t always get the credit she deserved.
She returned to Tulsa, Ok, with two beautiful daughters with her husband Carl Vester Chappell.
Carolyn had a love for children, writing, and education. She wrote plays for her grandparents Rev. O D Washington and Pauline Washington’s church and sang in the choir with her family.
In the late 80s, Carolyn and her Great Aunt Lilly Steed Zaheer created the Steed and Chappell Preparatory Academy, which provided a well-rounded curriculum for 2, 3, and 4-year-old children. Graduates of the academy typically skipped kindergarten due to the quality of education they received.
After hearing about an amazing church called Higher Dimensions, she began singing in the choir and working in the Children’s Church. Pastor Carlton Pearson asked her to bring students to his church for a demonstration of what her students could do. Another reason she loved Higher D is that she wrote plays with her writing partner Darrin Applegate. After one of her plays, a man came up to her with his two beautiful daughters and told her he was going to commit suicide that night, but her play saved his life.
In 1992, she founded America’s Most Beautiful Baby Pageant, which helped children win savings bonds for their college education. This was a huge success, and Carolyn went on to create America’s Most Beautiful Teen and Pre-Teen Pageants. When she returned to Tulsa, she ran into one of the pageant winners who had used her savings bonds to help pay for college.
In 1993, Carolyn decided to attend college with her daughters, and she graduated from Northeastern State University in 1996 with her daughter Lisa. She finished her Bachelor’s degree in two years, her Master’s in one year, and then received a full scholarship for her Doctorate degree at OSU. She received recognition from President Bill Clinton, and even Oprah Winfrey’s producers reached out for a story.
In 1996, she started writing for the Oklahoma Eagle Newspapers and was later promoted to Managing Editor. She also won a journalism award during this time. During this time she worked two jobs, the other was at Tulsa Junior College as a Writing Specialist and Adjust Professional of Speech and Journalism.
In 1999, Carolyn and her two daughters moved to Texas to pursue careers in education. They began teaching students in the DFW area, and in 2011, they founded Texas Success Academy, a fully accredited online school for K12 and Adult learners. TSA currently has students in almost all 50 states and internationally as far as Iceland, Africa, and the Middle East. Carolyn helped thousands of students earn credits and graduate with an accredited high school diploma that allowed them to attend any college or university. TSA was featured in a Facebook Watch TV Show-SKAM AUSTIN. April 18, 2023 will mark TSA’s 12th year anniversary.
Carolyn also loved real estate and owned several rentals in Tulsa, where she provided owner financing to help people achieve the dream of homeownership. She worked with her daughters Lisa and Missy in real estate in Texas as well.
In 2019 she and her daughters opened CML Wellness Spa, the first Spa in Arlington to offer red light therapy wellness pods and Scared Leaf Arlington a CBD store.
Carolyn loved people, family, and laughing. She enjoyed movie nights, traveling, and going to the Walnut Country Club for Ladies who Lunch and events with her daughters. She believed everyone should enjoy life, so she started a non-profit called Hope for a Better Future Outreach. The organization allows teachers to work with students one-on-one and help them achieve academic success.
Despite major health issues, including a car accident in 2004, which lead to a subdural hematoma that required emergency surgery 10 months later, Carolyn survived and continued to inspire others. In 2012, after seven years of dialysis, she had a successful kidney transplant that worked like her own kidney until her passing.
Carolyn is survived by her daughters, Dr. Lisa Chappell (partner Retired Navy Chief Ward Wixon), Missy Chappell, stepsons Carl Lee Chappell, Kenneth Chappell, Jimmy Charles, Great Aunt Lilly Zaheer, Best Friends Cheryl Richardson and Dr. Oleta Whibbey, her puppy Bentley Giuseppe Gelato, and other aunts, cousins, family members, and caring friends.
In honor of Carolyn’s legacy of helping children, the family requests that in lieu of flowers or cards, memorial donations be made to Hope for a Better Future Outreach (www.hfbfoutreach.org). 99% of the donations go to the benefit of children and teachers.
Carolyn Chappell will be remembered as a Hometown Hero who touched the lives of many through her work in education, real estate, and non-profit organizations. Her dedication, generosity, and passion for helping others will continue to inspire and impact countless lives for years to come.
Viewing and celebration at the Gazebo at Crown Hill Cemetery:
Thursday April 6th
2:00 to 2:30 pm private viewing
2:30 to 3:15 pm Viewing and Celebration of Life