Carol Sakae Nalbandian

Memorial services for Carol Nalbandian, 69, Lawrence will be held 3:00 p.m. Friday, February 28, 2014 at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union, University of Kansas. Another service will take place in Los Angeles, CA on March 22, 2014 at 11:00am at the Higashi Honganji Temple, 505 E. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. She passed away Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at her home.

She was a resident of Lawrence since 1976.

She was born in 1944 to Yoneyo and Eiichi Taniguchi in a WWII internment camp in Arizona. Following the war, her family resettled in Los Angeles where she grew up in the house behind the mom and pop grocery store her parents owned and operated. As a child she attended Japanese language classes and learned and publicly performed traditional dances in addition to excelling in school. Carol graduated on scholarship from the University of Southern California where she met John, her husband of 47 years.

Following John’s time in the Army and CIA and with their young child, John Baylor in arms, they returned to Los Angeles, where Carol supported the family as John earned his PhD. John’s work took them to what for them was a great unknown—Lawrence, Kansas–in 1976 and employment as a faculty member in Public Administration at the University of Kansas.

Carol worked at KU specializing in professional management education in the School of Continuing Education and then in the School of Business. Opportunity arose with the Leadership Center at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka where she practiced the client centered consultation skills she had learned during her Masters degree education at California State University, Los Angeles, and then later with her doctoral degree in Communication Studies at KU.

Carol became John’s partner not only in life, but in work as well. Carol led the relationship side of their management consultant business, which took them all over the country working with local governments. They hosted local government professionals from around the world in their home, and Carol enjoyed immensely the Christmas parties and summer picnics they hosted for John’s Public Administration students.
Carol’s life was marked by the unpretentious but powerful influence of her Buddhist upbringing. She was notably and admirably comfortable with herself. She never asked for more than she had. She could find something of interest in virtually every person she met. She was the consummate caretaker – always making sure that the needs of others were met. And, she loved every moment she spent with her precious grandchildren, George and Janie.

In addition to her work and family, Carol gave much to the community. She served on the boards of Headquarters Crisis Counseling Center, the Community Mercantile, Friends of the Library, and most recently, 10,000 Villages and Family Promise.

Carol first encountered the oncology group at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in 2002 when breast cancer was discovered and continued to receive treatment after she presented symptoms of ovarian cancer in 2007. Never did she see herself in a “fight” with the cancer; never did she use the term “battle,” and never did she say “why me?” She accepted every new physical limitation on her life as part of a new normal and in doing so she earned the respect of those who knew what she was going through. The family is grateful to the Oncology Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and also to Visiting Nurses of Douglas County Hospice for their caring involvement with both Carol and John.

In addition to her husband, Carol leaves her son, John, her daughter-in-law, Carrie, and Carol’s dearest grandchildren, George and Janie, in Northern Kentucky. She is survived by her sister, June; her brother-in-law, Allen, in Los Angeles; and her two nieces, Lisa, in Portland, and Naomi and her family, in the Bay Area. She leaves her husband’s caring sister, Terry, in Los Angeles.

Inurnment will be at the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles. The family prefers no flowers; tributes in Carol’s name to the Lawrence Public Library ( or a charity of choice are welcomed and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

32 Condolences

  1. Bob & Patsy Moody on January 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    John and Family,

    We were so sorry to hear of Carol’s death. She always greeted us with a huge smile and a genuine sense of friendship.

    I firmly believe that a person will continue to live on through those she has touched. Carol has done so much for our community and impacted so many that her good works will carry on her name for generations to come. She leaves you to carry on her love of family and community. Carol will be sadly missed by many, including ourselves.

    Bob & Patsy Moody

  2. Paul Diedrich on January 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I was so sorry to read about your wife’s passing.
    Though I did not know her, my thoughts and prayers extend to you and your extended family at this time.

  3. Lloyd Itano on January 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    It is obvious Carol touched so many people in her life. I know she was the girl I looked up to growing up as she was the cool older cousin. I would always look forward to Xmas as I knew she would pick out the coolest shirts for my brothers and myself to wear. She would be the one that I would tell whenever I discovered something new in the world. Hey Carol,, what do you think of Bob Dylan? Hmm, she said.. he might be OK. I know you are resting in Peace now. God Bless you.. and great job, John….

  4. Roy Leban on January 8, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Carol’s picture looks just like I remember her and that’s nice. I remember her fondly. Condolences on your loss.

  5. Sally Shamieh on January 9, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Dearest John,

    Although I am far away, Carol has and will always be in my heart. The brief time I spent with you in Lawrence was so dear and precious to me and I have learned a lot from Carol. She is the first person who comes to mind when i am faced with an obstacle or a predicament. Just thinking of what Carol would say to me in such a situation makes things clearer and lighter and the path forward more evident. She will always be in my thoughts and prayers. My very sincere condolences to you and your family.
    Sally Shamieh

  6. Carl Slaugh on January 9, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Carol and John were a great example to me of teamwork, cooperation and balancing each other in their marriage with their respective talents. They established a great legacy in Lawrence and nationally through their diligent work and service.

  7. Jun Gonzales and Family on January 9, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy.

  8. Susan (Mahoutchian) Moseley on January 9, 2014 at 9:37 am

    John, I had the pleasure of meeting you and Carol through MARC’s leadership academy several years ago. I still remember her encouragement and calming effect as I stressed over my demonstration at the closing dinner. Her generous nature in assuring me that everyone has something they’re good at was just what I needed. I have admired the relationship the two of you share and appreciate that you have shared it with others all these years through your work. She will be missed but not forgotten. God’s blessings on you both.

  9. Tiffeny L. Douglas on January 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm


    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. I only knew Carol through the MARC classes that you and her both taught and the both were great and very informative. Although the time was short that I was fortunate enough to encounter Carol that’s all the time it took to see that she was a one of a kind genuine human being. I am thankful and it is an honor to have met her.

    Condolences from my family to yours.

  10. Matt Mauer on January 9, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    My interactions with Carol were mostly in a classroom setting, yet she impressed many of with her kindness and grace.

    I am sorry to hear of Carol’s passing, in part because what I saw her do was to teach government employees to be kind, respectful and to operate with integrity.

    Her (and John’s) classes were a comfortable place, and those of us who were in class together with them became long-term friends in that easy environment. The most introverted among us could safely express themselves. We learned a great deal.

    My only regret is that more government folks will not have the opportunity to get that vital and basic teaching. My memory of her will be her smile as she would indulge John his dancing in class. John and her family you have my prayers and condolences. Carol, be at peace. You left the world better than you found it.
    Matt Mauer, Kansas City Fire Department

  11. Pamela Windsor on January 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm


    I was sad to read about Carol’s death; although, I am sure that she handled it with calm dignity like she handled the cancer treatments. The model she set for a life well lived is an inspiration to us all. She was always full of warmth, humor and friendship, and while I knew her strictly on a professional level, I always thought of her as a friend.

    Like everyone who knew her, I will miss her.

    Pamela Windsor

  12. Kimberly M. Randolph on January 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Please accept my condolences for your loss. It was an honor to attend your class at MARC. I admired your Husband/wife team approach to teaching and enjoyed meeting you both. Wishing you peace and comfort during this difficult time.
    Kimberly Randolph, City of Kansas City, Missouri

  13. Amy Devitt on January 9, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Dear John and family,
    I know Carol through the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library, where we volunteered together. I helped when she acted as treasurer for the book sales, too. Carol always offered such a warm smile, support and encouragement, and positive suggestions. She had tremendous impact on me, as I’m sure she did on others, through even our brief encounters.

    My sincere condolences on the loss of such a great person.

  14. Mimzie Uhler on January 9, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Dear John,

    Although our paths crossed only once, at Kei’s wedding in July, I felt an instant connection to Carol and to you and the other members of Kei’s family with whom I was seated. I was delighted to be with all of you. I had no idea that Carol had cancer, and I was so sorry to hear of her death. Your writing indicates just how courageous and accepting she was of the hand she was dealt.

    Please accept my sincere condolences.


  15. jeff ross on January 10, 2014 at 2:44 am

    I agree with what Roy said earlier, “Carol’s picture looks just like I remember her and that’s nice. I remember her fondly. Condolences on your loss.”

    I remember Carol studying me through those glasses more than a few times while we were at Headquarters together many years ago. She would be trying to figure out what the hell I was talking about and if I was serious. She got my sense of humor and playful nature and we had a great relationship. Carol always seemed to listen and value whatever was being said by me or anyone else. She was someone to watch, listen to and learn from on how to be effective in human relating and communicating. She was cool!.

    And sometimes she would say “yeah”….”YeaH”….”YEAH!”….
    Her voice would be rising a bit more at the end of each word. She would reflect a minute more and say simply, “Oh, I can see that.” You just knew that she could see the world through your eyes for just a moment. It was always reassuring and I am sorry she is gone. jwr

  16. Ben Calia on January 10, 2014 at 8:25 am

    John and Family:

    I along with countless others that were blessed to have known Carol are experiencing true sorrow due to Carol’s passing. I truly consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet such a wonderful person. A person who never met a stranger. A person whose true being, caring and nurturing personality penetrated those around her like rays from the sun.

    Although her physical presence will truly be missed, I hope that you take comfort in knowing that her spirit and memory does live on and will continue to influence all of us who had the true pleasure and honor of knowing such a wonderful human being.

    My deepest and most sincere heartfelt condolences.
    Ben Calia, City of Lee’s Summit, Missouri

  17. Cathlyn Unruh on January 10, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Carol’s spirit was one of the most inspiring examples of service to humanity I have ever known. Although I only knew her for a few months, who and what she was in the world was evident from the first time I worked with her on the TTV Board. Her example of a life lived fully with grace was a gift I shall not soon forget.

    My profound condolences and wishes for peace to all who mourn her passing. Celebrate her living and the beauty of her gifts to the world.

  18. Jan Perkins and Sandy Groves on January 10, 2014 at 8:59 am

    We’re deeply saddened by Carol’s death. She had a gentle and powerful spirit. We are all better off having being in Carol’s presence even for a moment. Thank you for the gift of yourself to so many people, Carol. You are missed and will be remembered.

  19. Michael Baker on January 10, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I only interacted with Carol on a few occasions. However, when I did, it felt like we were old friends reconnecting. Her warmth, caring and generosity was immediately apparent. Reading her obituary reveals so much more about how that character was formed and just how remarkable of a person she was. I would like to express my deepest sympathies to John and the family and am thankful that I have had the opportunity to understand Carol’s life and contributions better and can reflect on her wonderful life.

  20. Norton & Santa Bonaparte on January 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm


    It was great seeing you and Carol in Boston at the ICMA conference. Please know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Norton & Santa

  21. Ken and Suzan Hampian on January 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    John –

    We are so sorry hear about the passing of Carol. It was always a joy to talking to her as our paths crossed over the years. Her beautiful spirit was so evident and infectious (even tamed a few of my council members – at least for awhile!). We are glad to know that she was a very spiritual person who put her training into practice in recent years, as she gracefully and courageously accepted her challenges. A teacher and role model to the end. Our best thoughts shall be with you, Ken and Suzi

  22. Lucy May on January 10, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Christopher, the girls and I were so sorry to hear about Carol’s passing. She was such a wonderful person, and you two made a great team. We are grateful for the time we got to spend with her. Our thoughts are with you, and I hope your many good memories offer you some comfort.
    With love,

  23. John and Linda Surritte on January 10, 2014 at 6:57 pm


    Please accept our sincere condolences for your loss.

    John and Linda Surritte

  24. Allan Ota on January 11, 2014 at 10:07 am

    We are so sorry to hear of Carol’s passing. Regardless of what she may have thought, she always seemed larger than life to me. I remember our frequent car trips down to LA from the Bay Area (my dad loved to go for drives and sometimes we just ended up down there……) and hanging out with all of the cousins, including Carol, as well as some of our larger “caravan” trips, including Grand Canyon. My parents and my dad (in his last years) always enjoyed visits by you and Carol. She lived an amazing life, accomplished so much, and touched so many lives. We will miss her dearly.
    Allan & Becky Ota

  25. Bill Staples on January 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Dear John,

    Please accept my condolences on Carol’s passing. I enjoyed getting know Carol in our years on the Merc Board. She was a truly wonderful person and we will all miss her.

    My thoughts go out to you and your family,

    Bill Staples

  26. Pamela Antil on January 12, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    John, I was very sorry to hear of Carol’s passing. Will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers. In sympathy, Pam Antil

  27. Pamela Jacobs on January 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    My thoughts of strength and peace to you, John, at the loss of your beloved wife. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting her, she obviously touched many lives and leaves this world a better place.

  28. Renee and Frankie on January 14, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Dear John and family,
    We are deeply saddened to hear of Carol’s death. We were lucky enough to meet and spend time with Carol at Lisa’s wedding. Carol was such a positive and beautiful person. I know she will be greatly missed. I’m so sorry for your loss.
    Renee & Frankie.

  29. Karen Lowder on January 15, 2014 at 7:03 am

    We at Cottonwood loved Carol and will miss her greatly.

  30. Linda Finger on January 16, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    John and family,

    Years ago, in another job and another time, I found Carol to be an inspiration and a guide/confidant in evaluating options and seeing different perspectives of an issue. Her calm and humor-filled training presentations were a welcome relief from the politically infused environment I and my staff lived and worked in. What a blessing for you and her to have found a partnership that worked in both your personal and professional lives. I am a better person for having known Carol and I believe in the many areas of the world that Carol touched, there is a warmer glow of humanity. Thank you for sharing the love of your live with so many of us!

  31. John Staley on February 2, 2014 at 10:11 am

    My deepest and sincerest sympathy for your loss. Carol was such a kind and passionate woman. I enjoyed the meetings you facilitated with our staff and City Council and her way of bringing a group together. You were a great team. On behalf of myself and the men and women of the Thornton Fire Department, I want to assure you we will mention Carol and You in our prayers and thoughts.
    John Staley, Fire Chief, City of Thornton Colorado.

  32. Joy Pierson on February 10, 2014 at 10:09 am

    John and Family – I just learned today of Carol’s passing. She made me feel so welcome when I moved to Lawrence. John – your partnership with Carol was a wonderful example of a truly committed relationship. You are in my prayers. XO Joy

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