I had the great privilege on Nov. 24 to be with my former coworker, Carol Luebering, as she took her last breaths and met Sister Death. Carol, one of the most prolific and talented Catholic writers in the United States, died at age 75 after battling inoperable lung cancer.
A retired SAMP book editor, Carol started her writing career in the 1980s by teaching people about Christian death and how to plan a funeral. For more than three decades she devoted much of her writing and personal ministry to providing comfort for the grieving. She ended her writing career a month ago by penning the prayers of the faithful for her own funeral Mass.
In more than three decades of writing for Catholic publishers that included St. Anthony Messenger Press and Abbey Press in St. Meinrad, Indiana, Carol shared her wisdom and experience with dying and grief, helping millions come to accept loss in their lives. Her last book for St. Anthony Messenger Press is Coping With Loss: Praying Your Way to Acceptance.
When told in June that there was nothing more that could be done to combat the lung cancer, Carol made a long list of hundreds of names of people to whom she wanted to say goodbye.
“She had more than 400 names on the list,” said her husband of 54 years, Jack Luebering. “Every day since June she went through the list and called people to tell them how much they meant to her and what a gift a person was in her life.”
Her son Steve Luebering said his mother taught people how to die with grace and then she did it herself. “She died the way she wanted to—at home with family at her bedside. Her favorite color was red and she wore a red nightgown and lay on red sheets during her last days.”
Carol worked for more than 18 years as a book editor for St. Anthony Messenger Press and contributed much as both editor and writer to the publishing house’s growth and success, said Father Dan Kroger, O.F.M., CEO-publisher. “Carol had a vast general knowledge of history, theology and the arts, and she had practical experience in pastoral ministry that she brought to editing our books. She also contributed as a writer to St. Anthony Messenger magazine, Catholic Update newsletter, and as writer-editor of Homily Helps. Her legacy as a catechist and pastoral minister is huge.”
Carol excelled too in the domestic arts as a gourmet cook and as a teacher of needle work. Son Steve said she was “a mom and grandmother to many, especially young women in the neighborhood, teaching them to cook and sew and listening to them. They called her ‘Dial a Cook.’”
We at SAMP benefited often from Carol’s talents and gifts, especially during workplace celebrations when Carol would contribute fabulous desserts and interesting side dishes. We spent many lunchtimes discussing recipes and cooking tips. At times of marriage and baptism, coworkers would receive handsewn, one-of-a-kind quilts or gifts.
We at SAMP will miss Carol’s hugs and gentle voice and words of wisdom. We offer our condolences to her family—husband Jack and son Steve; sister Patricia Corning of Chicago; daughters Anne Mohl of Baltimore, Joan Luebering and Mary Sullivan of Cincinnati, and Kay Riolo of Fresno, California; and ten grandchildren.