Carol Jean Gilfone (Maiden name: Maready) was born November 28, 1938, in a small town in Duplin County, Beulaville, North Carolina. On the afternoon of Sunday, March 19, 2023, Jean passed away at Johnston-Willis Hospital, Richmond, Va.,after a long and tiring battle against Multiple Myeloma, she was surrounded by family at the time of her passing. Jean was 84 years old.
She grew up on a farm and became a jack of all trades such as gardener, seamstress, cook and homemaker. She could see a dress in a magazine and create it within days. She could taste a delicious meal at a restaurant and duplicate it at home and improve on the original recipe. She was a doer. While in Europe she learned a new trade as a custom picture framemaker. She used this talent to make frames for many people at the Picture Perfect Frame Shop in Fort Lee, Va.
At the age of 26, she left her small town and ventured to Virginia, where a chance meeting on September 28, 1965, at a bowling alley in Ft. Belvoir would lead to 57 wonderful years of marriage to her husband, James Gilfone, Jr. from Newark, New Jersey, a soldier in the US Army. Carol Jean and Jim would become engaged and married on February 5, 1966, just five months after meeting.
Our dad speaks with a huge smile and with love when he talks about the first time he met our mom’s family. He was surrounded by a big loving family and immediately felt welcomed. Our mom, her parents, and siblings would gather for meals and talk and laugh, while the young cousins played outside. Mealtimes were in shifts as the children ate together, followed by all the adults. These gatherings would become traditions over the years as we visited our mom’s family.
Not only did we travel to North Carolina several times during the year, but we also went North to New Jersey to be with our dad’s family. He, too, was from a big family and we experienced the same loving atmosphere with huge family gatherings, delicious Italian dishes and loud conversation and laughter. Family was important to both of our parents.
Not long after the arrival of their first daughter, Joan, our mom and dad had their first real adventure, Japan. Our parents would live in Chitose, Japan for the next three years, welcoming their second daughter, Lena, while there. It was an incredible experience. Not only did they explore Japan, but they also ventured to Thailand to visit family. Our mom continued to use her many talents and would make the cutest matching outfits for herself and her girls. Our parents also found joy in bowling, the activity that led them to one another, and in the card game, Pinochle, which would become another favorite pastime and something they would enjoy with friends.
The adventures for our mom and dad only grew as they ventured to try new things and welcomed their third daughter, Wendy. They would soon find themselves at SHAPE, Belgium, Europe where they would live for 9 combined years, over 2 different tours. During their stay, they enjoyed traveling to different countries including France, Germany, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, England, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Our mother loved to explore. They continued to bowl in leagues wherever they lived.
Prince George, Virginia would become their final home, but the adventures did not stop there. Our mom and dad would continue to explore the United States, taking trips all over. Throughout their marriage, they found themselves in Alabama, New York, Missouri, Illinois, Maryland, Washington D.C., Delaware, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Louisiana, California, South Dakota, Nevada, and Hawaii. They also traveled back to Europe to revisit their home in Belgium, as well as Germany and the Czech Republic. They enjoyed cruises to St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, St. Martins, and the Bahamas. For over 10 years our parents had a tradition to go to Myrtle Beach, SC in November where they would watch live Christmas musicals and they would also vacation in Massanutten and Williamsburg with family and friends.
Our mom was strong in her faith in Jesus Christ and we grew up going to church every Sunday, Unity Baptist Church and Pastor Chris Jenkins held a special place in her heart. Our mom never met a stranger and always went out of her way to make people feel welcomed. Her big heart led her to become a foster parent for 10 years, providing a safe place for children in need. In 1997, her first grandchild was born. Being a grandmother brought our mom so much joy. She loved her grandbabies!
My dad always says that my mom was, “the love of his life.” He was hers, as well. My mother would tell us that she had an incredible life, often. The loss we feel is tremendous. We find peace in knowing that she is no longer suffering and that she is with her savior Jesus Christ and all of her family and loved ones up in Heaven.
Carol Jean is preceded in death by her mother, Daphney Houston Maready; her father, William Gaylor Maready; and her brothers Gerald and Tom Maready of Beulaville, NC.
She is survived by her husband, Jim Gilfone of Prince George, Va.; her sister, Pauline M. Freeman from Beulaville, NC; her daughters: Joan A. Gilfone-Bullock (Pete) of Prince George, Va.; Lena M. Godsey (Joe) of Fredericksburg, Va.; Wendy Vokac (Charles) of Glen Allen, Va.; her grandchildren: Kristen, Caitlyn, Madison, & Nathan Godsey; Kayla, Emma, Will, and Ava Vokac; her bonus grandchild, Whitney Rodgers (Alex); bonus great-grandchildren: Shiloh, Hannah, Ruby, & Violet and her first foster child Lynn Lawrence-Herzog (Hanns).
The family will receive friends from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 and from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday March 29, 2023 at the Colonial Heights Chapel of E. Alvin Small Funeral Homes and Crematory, 2033 Boulevard. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at the funeral home. Carol Jean Gilfone will be laid to rest in the Virginia Veteran's Cemetery at Amelia, 10300 Pridesville Rd, Amelia Court House, VA 23002, at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 30, 2023. Flowers are welcomed, or contributions may be made to The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Online condolences may be registered at www.ealvinsmall.com
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)
Virginia Veterans Cemetery at Amelia