Carbery retires after 30 years in Otolaryngology

photo of Carbery with father
Carolyn Carbery poses with a photo of her father St. Louis legend and 1950 World Cup goalie Frank Borghi.

After 30 years of service to the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University, Carolyn Carbery will retire on April 30. In so many ways, she was the face of the department.

She served as assistant to the chair for three department heads – John Fredrickson, MD, Richard A. Chole, MD, PhD, and Craig C. Buchman, MD – a role she served with great pride and humility.

She served as mentor and supervisor to dozens of administrative assistants.

She credentialed countless new physicians and fellows.

More importantly, she has served as friend and colleague to hundreds of faculty and staff, a listening ear for countless anxious patients, and settled the nerves of hundreds of residency applicants as they awaited a residency interview.

“Carolyn partnered with me in managing the department for 17 years. As everyone knows, she was the glue who held everything together and made sure that I actually got things done. She was a devoted and highly trusted colleague. Cindy and I will always consider her and her family great friends.”

—Richard A. Chole, MD, PhD (former Lindburg Professor and Head)

Carbery with her siblings, from left: Carolyn, Betty, Chuck, Terese, Tony, Frank, and John. Sitting front is matriarch Rose Borghi.

The oldest of seven children, Carolyn has always maintained a role as gatekeeper and mentor. It’s no wonder, she never missed a chance to offer help or to listen and offer guidance wherever needed.

According to Carbery, an event that stands out as a highlight of her career has to be the Ogura Lectureship and Resident Research Day.

“It really opens your eyes to the incredible talent of our residents and fellows and gives us all such pride to recognize what they have achieved in their research and medical careers,” she said.  “It has always been an awesome celebration of achievement.”

When asked what she would miss the most, her emotions surface.

photo of Carbery family
Carbery and husband Kelly with their three sons, from left: Tim, JJ and Kelly.

“I will greatly miss all my friends in otolaryngology – each and every one. We have laughed, cried, and shared so much together, they will always be a part of me.”

Retirement for Carbery holds a new sense of free time: time to travel with her husband Kelly; time to start swimming again; time for new and old hobbies; and most important – time cuddling with grandchildren.

Please join us in thanking Carolyn for her many years of service. If you would like to post a public farewell message to Carolyn, please send it to:

Messages to Carolyn

Carolyn, thank you so much for welcoming me to the institution. I will never forget a framed picture of my three-month old already sitting on my desk when you showed me my office for the first time. It was such a small gesture, and yet so meaningful and warm. You have continued to ask about my girls and care about me as a person, not just a physician, and I know you extend this kindness to everyone you meet. You are truly special and we were lucky to have you here at WashU for as long as we did. Enjoy retirement! I know you will make the most of it. —Molly Huston

To the amazing, energetic, positive, super knowledgeable, good-humored, thoughtful, trustworthy, kind, caring, dandelion-loving Carolyn Carbery – I am going to miss you so much!!! You and your energy are so woven into the fabric of our department that I can’t imagine how it will be like without you. I wish you all the best as you transition into a life of retirement, with more time for family and grandchildren and doing other things you love to do (other than working with all of us).  Enjoy, enjoy! —Jana Richardson

Thank you for everything you have done for Emily and me over the years. You were there when we interviewed for residency as anxious medical students, when we were just starting out as residents, and when we became faculty. You were always there with a friendly smile and words of guidance at every step. Thank you!!! —Nedim Durakovic

Thank you, Carolyn, from the bottom of my heart for not only keeping Rick’s head above water for 17 long years, but for helping me in dozens of ways. You kept us both on course through many challenging times. God bless you and Kelly as you move forward.  We love you!!! —Cindy Chole

Carolyn, you are a shining star in our department.  Your positive attitude, enthusiasm, and dedication to others are unparalleled.  You lead by example in all that you do.  You will be deeply missed and we all wish you the best.  I have enjoyed my interactions and the growth of our friendship during my time at WashU.  —Sid Puram

I have worked in the department not quite as long as Carolyn , but for a long time. While I didn’t work much with her early on, over time I have come to know her well. I respect her, value her, and rely on her.  She is such a shining star, greeting each person with a smile, a willingness to help, and a dedication and passion toward her job, the department, school and University.  No task was too great or too small for her.  She embraced whatever was thrown her way with an eagerness and calm and easy demeanor.  She has been such a joy to work with.  I know she is looking forward to retiring and spending time with family and soon to arrive grand baby.  I am so excited for her entering the next  chapter of her life and wish her all the best!  I will miss her but I also know she’s only a phone call away. —Debbie Scherr

Carolyn, you have earned this well-deserved retirement.  Thank you for always answering random questions. Wishing you and your family all the best.  The Finish Line is near, here’s to your success and new adventures that await! —Tanja Wilson, assistant to the chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Thank you for the many years of taking care us! You have been a source of knowledge, connection, and kindness. We are so lucky to have had a chance to work with you. Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement. —Keiko Hirose

Our six years together in this department have been the best of my career so far.  You have been the best mentor and friend to me and I hope I can be this for someone else someday.  You truly put your heart into everything you do and always have a smile on your face.  Everyone needs a Carolyn in their life! —Emily Harvey

Carolyn, congratulations on your retirement! It has been a pleasure working with you. You are always so pleasant, helpful and such a great colleague. Enjoy this next chapter in your life. I wish you good health and happiness! —Alison Ebers, assistant to the chair, Department of Medicine

I want to acknowledge and extend my heartfelt “Thank you” for your long-standing dedication and many contributions to the department.  You are the consummate professional with tremendous knowledge of the department, a quick answer to any question, and a wonderful “can do” attitude.  I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to work with you.  I wish you the best as you begin the next part of your life. You will be greatly missed in the Department of Otolaryngology. —Jay Piccirillo

Since our very first email exchanges during the on-boarding process, I realized you were special, and I celebrated the day I found out that we would be working together! You never wavered to provide prompt, reliable, patient-centered service all while juggling so many tasks. Your stories of growing up on The Hill and local recommendations made St. Louis feel like home. Your caring nature and friendly chats will be greatly missed. Wishing you much enjoyment with Kelly and your family in retirement. —Cameron Wick

My dear friend Carolyn, Oh how I will miss your sweet smile and caring heart around here!  Can you believe how long we have been working at WashU?  I am ecstatic for you, as you are so deserving of the happiness that will come with retirement.  Enjoy this new journey and cherish every moment.  Don’t forget to keep in touch! Hugs! —Simone Jacob, assistant to the chair, Department of Emergency Medicine

Congratulations, Carolyn!  It has been a pleasure to work with you for so many years.  You are the most cheerful, positive and supportive person ever, and I will miss you.  Best wishes for a wonderful retirement! —Patty Tampow

Carolyn, you have been a kind, smiling presence of calm, gentle efficiency and unflappable administrative support in the 30 years that I have been a resident and faculty member. You have been such an important part of the Otolaryngology family, supporting staff and faculty in many vital ways to do their jobs. I will miss the compassionate care and competency you have offered in your many roles through your career. I wish you the best in your retirement, and much joy in your well-deserved rest from work. —Judy Lieu

Carolyn – congratulations on your retirement!  That is fantastic!! You well deserve it.   You have made a difference in so many people’s lives through the years.  I for one don’t know what I would have done without you and your help so many times when we were working together.  We have seen many faculty and staff come and go.  You were always there to listen and lend a hand.  You became more of a friend than a co-worker over the years, a very good friend.  You are always someone I admired and looked up to.  I am sad to see you go but I know you have a family that is anxious to have you all to themselves.  I don’t want this to be a farewell but instead now we can maybe have the time to get together for lunch, dinner or coffee chats.   Remember life begins in retirement.  Love you! —Mary Kay Piantanida

Carolyn, I have been trying for the past few weeks to put into words just how truly wonderful you are.  It seems impossible to capture all the emotions and love that I feel for you in a brief message.  You are without question the kindest, most generous and loving person I know, and it is a privilege to be your sister and your friend.  There is a joy that radiates from you through your smile that makes others feel important.  You are gentle, forgiving and strong at the same time, and I know you always have my back.  I’m not sure if you fully understand how special you are and how much I respect and admire you.   You are the BEST of our Mom and Dad, and I am in awe of your unwavering goodness.  I speak for all of your siblings when I say we hit the “sister jackpot” with you.  You are a blessing and gift to our family. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement.  The best is yet to come! —Terese Hall, assistant to the chair, Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, and your loving sister

Carolyn, I will always remember your kindness, gentle manners, positive attitude, and smiling face during every communication we ever had.  Especially notable, was my first visit to WashU in March 2005, prior to joining the department in September 2005.  You guided me through a number of issues, answering all my questions, pointing me in the right direction, getting me to the people that could help me with a particular question, and always did so with pleasure.  You continued to be that person after I started my position here, going above and beyond to help with just about anything. You were always approachable.  You have had a very important role in the department, and never seem flustered or overwhelmed. Thank you Carolyn, for being that especially kind and thoughtful person who always had a smile and a laugh, to make one’s day feel even better. We will all miss you. I hope you enjoy your retirement and the extra time with your family! —Jill Firszt

Carolyn, you have been such a wonderful inspiration to all of us in the department. You are an excellent supervisor and good friend. Thank you for always being there to assist and guide us with your years of knowledge and your calm demeanor!  Congratulations on your new and exciting chapter in life! We will greatly miss you!  Enjoy time with your family! Please don’t forget us and keep in touch! —Denise Welsch 

Carolyn, congratulations on your retirement! Even though we didn’t work together on a day-to-day basis, I always felt like you were a good friend and colleague. Whenever I came over to your office, you were always welcoming, friendly, and willing to help with anything I needed.  We always had a good laugh together!  All of us in PACS will miss you very much.  I wish you all the best and much happiness in the years to come. Enjoy time with your family, and being able to sleep in!  —Beth Fisher

Carolyn, you have been my best friend for 29 years and we are still going strong. You are excellent at everything you do. You have been there for me through thick and thin, for better or worse.

I feel like we’ve been neighbors for a lifetime. I will miss your generosity, your hilarious stories, your great advice, your calm demeanor, and your crazy driving!!! Jana and I would love to have had more time doing crafts with you. I wish you well my friend. Enjoy all your new spare time with your family and friends. Just remember, you now have more time for girls’ night out! I love you and will miss you terribly. —Maria Harrington

Carolyn, I’m so happy I had the chance to work with you, and I treasure the friendship we’ve had over the last few years. You always bring happiness and smiles to the workplace and you certainly live out your faith in your genuine kindness and attentiveness to everyone around you, both professionally and personally. I wish you a happy retirement, you deserve it! —Katherine Kao