Inspiring Women February 2023

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Carol celebrating her great life. (from left)<br />

Carol’s mother, Jovan Spears, aged 74<br />

Carol’s son, Massimiliano Silenzi, daughter,<br />

Kimberly Silenzi Fontanelli, and grandson,<br />

Andrea Fontanelli, in Amsterdam.<br />

Carol with her grandbaby! (below)<br />

I would love to tell you all about my wonderful<br />

adventures as a Pan Am stewardess, but suffice<br />

it to say that I flew the world and broadened<br />

my horizons.<br />

In January 1966, I resigned from my job at Pan<br />

Am and left to study German at the Goethe<br />

Institute in a small town near the Austrian<br />

border (very handy for skiing!). When the course<br />

finished, I moved to Munich and began studying<br />

at the University of Munich.<br />

And then my life changed completely<br />

I was hired by the CIA in Munich and began my<br />

25-year career working on a special Cold War<br />

project. In July 1968, I was transferred from<br />

Munich to Rome. During this period, I met my<br />

husband-to-be and started a family – a son,<br />

Massimiliano, born in 1977, and a daughter,<br />

Kimberly, in 1979. My project with the CIA lasted<br />

until the collapse of the Soviet Union.<br />

In 1998, I was hired by an American international<br />

law firm to set up and manage their Italian<br />

offices. I retired in June 2012 and moved to<br />

Colorado Springs to be close to my aging<br />

mother, and I reside there to this day. Still good<br />

friends, my husband and I are separated. My<br />

daughter and grandson live in Rome, and my<br />

son lives in Amsterdam.<br />

Appreciating “me time”<br />

My life before retirement was glamorous and<br />

exciting, but also involved long working hours<br />

and a lot of stress. Between work and family,<br />

I never had time for myself. My newly found<br />

freedom from work has given me the<br />

opportunity to do all the outside activities,<br />

professional and otherwise, that I never had<br />

time for. So, for me, I am in a new, exciting<br />

chapter of life – professionally, giving back to<br />

my new-found local community, and aging<br />

gracefully by diving into reading of all kinds<br />

and many sports.<br />

What are you involved in now?<br />

I joined FAUSA shortly after moving back to<br />

America, served for three years on their board,<br />

and I organized their 2014 Getaway in Colorado<br />

Springs. One of my most rewarding experiences<br />

has been serving as a mentor for the KPWE<br />

scholarship program at UCCS (kpwe.uccs.edu).<br />

I also volunteered for several years at Stable<br />

Strides (health and healing through horses<br />

www.stablestrides.org), and I belong to the local<br />

Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club, where I have had<br />

the opportunity to participate in many social<br />

and philanthropic activities, establish close<br />

friendships, and continuously serve on their<br />

board in various positions since joining.<br />

I belong to three book clubs, a giving circle, a<br />

Mahjong group, and the Colorado Springs World<br />

Affairs Council (csworldaffairs.org).<br />

As for the fun activities I never had time for,<br />

about a year after moving to Colorado I was<br />

introduced to the Pikes Peak Over the Hill Gang<br />

(www.ppothg.com), a fabulous group for<br />

people over 50 who enjoy outdoor sports. I<br />

joined for the skiing, since at the age of 71 it was<br />

not so easy to find people who still wanted to<br />

ski. This was a real turning point. Our chartered<br />

bus takes us skiing once a week all winter – to<br />

such fabulous places as Vail, Breckenridge and<br />

Keystone. We are a bunch of crazy old skiers<br />

having the time of our lives despite knee and/<br />

or hip replacements, tired muscles, and all the<br />

other complications of aging. I look forward to<br />

our annual ski week in Beaver Creek in January!<br />

This group is so much fun that I decided to join<br />

them in hiking, snowshoeing and pickleball. I<br />

even took up golf at the age of 75. I took lessons<br />

and love trying to improve my game. Weather<br />

permitting, we play golf every Monday at golf<br />

courses all around Colorado.<br />

What continues to surprise you?<br />

After living abroad for 46 years, it has definitely<br />

been a culture shock to live in America again. I<br />

am still challenged by the complete change in<br />

mealtimes (2 or 3 hours earlier than in Italy!),<br />

slow and disciplined driving, pumping my<br />

own gas, etc., but more than pleased by the<br />

availability of parking everywhere. I am still<br />

shocked by the amount of obesity and<br />

homelessness, and by our current politics, and<br />

I do a lot of reading to try and understand why<br />

my country changed so drastically in the years<br />

that I lived abroad. But I continue to be<br />

pleasantly surprised by the overall courtesy and<br />

kindness of complete strangers, the incredible<br />

natural beauty of the country, and the many<br />

cultural opportunities available.<br />


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