There was always music in the Carroll household. Flo Carroll could do it no other way.
“Nothing would stop her,” said daughter Laurie Carroll. “She really loved to sing.”
Short and petite, Carroll belted out formidable bass lines with the City of Lakes Chorus, a competitive a cappella women’s barbershop group. For 60 years, she was a member of the group’s international organization, the Sweet Adelines.
Carroll, who lived in Crystal, died Nov. 21 at the age of 90.
“She sang the night she was dying,” her daughter said. “Eyes looking up in the air ... and hitting all the bass notes.”
Carroll was born in Minneapolis on the cusp of the Great Depression. Both parents died when she was young, and an older brother and his wife took her in.
Carroll attended vocational high school and, as soon as she could, landed a job at a local diner and rented the apartment upstairs.
It wasn’t the happiest of times, her daughter said, but Carroll learned how to be on her own. She met her husband, Frank, when he was in the service, and they raised a son and four daughters. Frank Carroll died in 1996.
Laurie was the only one of the children to get the singing bug, learning to harmonize and sharing the stage with her mother as a 4-year-old.
“Mom and I have a memory of lyrics,” Laurie Carroll said. “We sing a song a couple of times and we know that song.”
Marcia Starnes, a longtime friend and fellow bass singer through the City of Lakes Chorus, said Carroll was “a little force, a little tornado.”
Carroll was among the first to welcome newcomers and had a generous spirit, Starnes said. Through the years, she led the membership committee, made sure recordings got made and printed off music for the chorus. She offered handmade gifts for people in the group.
She enjoyed a range of music, from 1920s show tunes and spirituals to Beatles and Billy Joel hits. And she liked a good laugh.
Carroll laid down the bottom notes on a variety of comedy-style barbershop quartets, including those with such farcical names as “The Uncalled Four” and “The Novel Keys.”
Though Carroll had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, it never affected her ability to sing. “She sang for the love of singing and entertaining,” Starnes said.
On her gravestone, her family inscribed: “Now singing with the Angels Chorus.”
Services have been held. Besides her daughter Laurie, Carroll is survived by son Steve and daughters Colleen, Patti and Kelly. She also had 11 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and three great great-grandchildren.