Pilot, nurse, officer, farmer, wife, mother. Born on July 2, 1953, in Regina; died on May 26, 2016, in Edmonton, of pancreatic cancer, aged 62.
Back in the 1960s, while her teenaged friends in Calgary were pondering boys and makeup, Carol Pullen had a calling as big as the Alberta sky. A lanky, headstrong girl, she was inspired to roam that wild blue yonder. At 16, she had her pilot's licence. While still in her teens, she earned her instrument and multiengine ratings.
Her infatuation with flight, however, was not to be her destiny. The diagnosis of a minor heart murmur meant she would no longer be allowed to fly solo. Unfazed, she moved on to her next challenge, nursing school. A high school guidance counsellor was foolish enough to tell Carol she was not "university material," a pronouncement that made her even more determined to earn her nursing degree, which she did.
Hungry for adventure, Carol then enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces and rose to the rank of captain, working as a nurse and then a nurse manager in Canada and abroad. The most fulfilling of her nursing assignments were the medivac flights she flew from Germany to Canada. It was the perfect role for a person with two callings and two passions – to fly, and to care. A proud moment for Carol was when she was asked to serve on the honour guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa one Remembrance Day.
It was in the military that Carol met and fell in love with David Dacyk. It was a case of opposites attracting: David, the officer and aircraft maintenance engineer, with his calm, analytical manner, and Carol with her appetite for everything new and exciting. They were married in 1980 and, in the years that followed, Carol became the devoted and resourceful mother of Amanda and Valerie. As the family moved from base to base across Canada, each new house became, by her deft and creative touch, a warm and inviting home.
At David's retirement from the Armed Forces, they purchased his family's farm in northern Alberta. With the same enthusiasm that she brought to everything she did, Carol embraced life as a farmer. She learned about all things bovine and grew vegetable and flower gardens of splendorous proportions. Her interest in horticulture blossomed into a final career as a tree grower; she joined the staff of a large tree farm where she cared for thousands of saplings.
In the last chapter of Carol's life, she fought and overcame breast cancer – a great accomplishment for anyone, but that wasn't enough for her. She threw herself into a fitness regime and then hiked a section of the gruelling West Coast Trail accompanied by her daughters and son-in-law Dan. It was an extraordinary experience they will never forget.
A renaissance woman, Carol had many other talents. She was a gifted painter and the creator of many quilts and crafts. She was also a fine skier and talented musician. Above all, she was a practical, self-sufficient person who dreamed big and lived a passionate, purposeful life.
We were all blessed by Carol's indomitable spirit. Like the quilts that she sewed with such care, she created a patchwork of love throughout her life.
Heather Pullen is Carol's sister.