Life Story: Karole Farley

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — She made music. She made clothes. She made hats. The list of talents of a Mound woman is quite long.

But her daughters say most of all, she was fearless. Karole Farley lived to celebrate her 95th birthday.

She was admired for her sewing skills, her ability to make fancy hats and her vocal skills. In this week’s Life Story, we discovered how Karole handled the demands of motherhood by using her creative talents.

When you step into the home Karole Farley lived in for more than 70 years, it’s like she never left. You can still hear her singing.

The Mound mother of six children performed in her husband’s jazz band in the 1940s. There are many recordings of their work.

“He’d be playing his horn, she’d be playing the piano and singing and recording themselves every night,” their daughter Liz said.

Daughters Kate and Liz Farley have fond memories of their parents’ affection for each other. And when it comes to their mother, they say nothing intimidated her.

Karole was a respected sewing instructor, well-known for the flamboyant outfits and matching bolera hats she made for herself. And then there was the sombrero she liked to wear to church.

“Navy blue velvet with little mirror icons or whatever, all over it. She’d walk right up the aisle and take the front row to make sure everyone saw her,” her daughter Kate said.

Karole’s closets are full of her creations… dresses, pant suits, capes and hats.

They say their mother made all their clothes when they were growing up. But it’s really her resilience they admired the most, beginning with her decision to move her young family into a modest lakeside cottage.

“There was no running water. No toilets.  There was an outhouse. I remember being carried out there in the middle of the night,” Liz said.

Over the years, Karole and her husband remodeled their home, just the way they wanted it: Filling it with music and laughter.

“All through your life you watch your parents and you are inspired by them. She could take any hit and stay standing,” Kate said.

Karole Farley was 95 years old when she died on May 23.

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