Cover photo for Carole Ann (McDaniel)  Hanks's Obituary
Carole Ann (McDaniel)  Hanks Profile Photo
1944 Carole 2023

Carole Ann (McDaniel) Hanks

November 7, 1944 — April 9, 2023

Carole Ann McDaniel was born on 7 November 1944 to an Army Air Corps family in Roswell, New Mexico, on the same day that Stalin’s army pushed the Nazi forces outside Russia’s borders and the Japanese Navy suffered major losses at the Philippines island of Luzon. Moreover, it was national election day in the U.S., and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was to win against Thomas E. Dewey that day, earning a fourth term in office.

Carole Ann McDaniel Hanks died on Easter Sunday (9 April 2023), fifty-eight years and two weeks after marrying Dorrel T (Tom) Hanks, Jr. Services will take place at Lakeshore Baptist Church, 5801 Bishop Drive in Waco (76710), on 29 April at 3 pm. The family ask that in lieu of flowers memorial gifts be made in Carole’s name to Lakeshore Baptist Church.

The day before her early-morning death she was surrounded by Caregivers and the immediate family, all of whom loved her and whom she loved. Had speech remained to her (it didn’t: Alzheimer’s), she might have said with satisfaction and love, “My life is complete.” Carole Hanks is survived by her husband Tom (Dorrel Thomas Jr.), her daughter Kirsten Husak and Kirsten’s husband Ken Folmar, her son Thomas (Dorrel Thomas Spitzer-Hanks III) and his wife Stephanie Spitzer-Hanks. Their children, Carole and Tom’s grandchildren, are Vivian and Dorrel T. IV (Dory). Carole is also survived by her brother and sister-in-law Joe and Carol McDaniel and their children Laura, Sean, and Sarah. Other kin are nieces Krystle Leigh Hanks, Cassidy Noelle, and Kristy Hanks Strickland, and nephews Chad and Michael Sean Hanks.

Carole, now completed herself, has brought one or another form of completion to family, to friends—and to many a woman whom she never met but befriended at a distance as the early Director of the Memphis New Mothers Project, providing care for over 500 low-income mothers and children. That Project was to become the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP). The NFP now provides free pre- and post-natal care for low-income mothers and children in over 1,000 communities throughout the U.S. (and now in several foreign countries). She joined Dr. David Olds and Dr. Harriet Kitzman—and many co-workers—in the first large-scale (and successful) pilot study for what became the NFP.

About her early life: aside from her immediate family, Army Air Corps hospital personnel, a few friends on the base in Roswell, and her grandparents (via land-line telephone), no one took notice of Carole’s birth on that nationally momentous day in 1944. She joined that day the family of her brother Joe Robert and her parents Eugene E. (Mack) and Dortha Gene (Gene) McDaniel. Returning to Missouri after WWII ended, the family relocated in small towns, chiefly in Aurora, Missouri, for the first part of Carole’s life. Most of her very early recollections focus on that small-town beginning: she formed most of her standards there—help your neighbor, tend to your own business, take care of the family, go to church.

Mack left education for the insurance business, and took his family to Jefferson City, Missouri. There Carole graduated from The Jefferson City Senior High School in 1962. One of the top three students in her graduating class, she won a full-tuition scholarship to Washington University (WU), St. Louis, Missouri. Entering WU in fall 1962, she was vaguely thinking of a medical career—possibly as a physical therapist, possibly as a physician. She joined a sorority there (Pi Beta Phi) and became a cheerleader: those activities marked her first two years. In her second year she settled into French as her major, largely abandoning the idea of the medical profession, and applied for the Junior Year Abroad program. Accepted, she bade farewell to sorority and cheer squad, not to return. She spent her junior year in Strasbourg. During her year in Strasbourg, she hiked and biked around the countryside, studied French language, and generally did a typical general-studies curriculum. She also applied for a post in the WU residence halls as “senior resident,” a living- in-place task of counseling and monitoring undergraduate life in Lee Hall.

On her first day back at WU (late August 1965), she met another resident counselor, Tom Hanks (not the actor—a fellow student). Taking long walks together, meeting for breakfast, joining friends on Coke dates, going “out” to dinner or just for dessert, they found that they shared the Missouri small-town standards of their earlier lives. They grew close. In March of 1966 they eloped. Tom left his position at WU to enter active duty with the U.S. Air Force shortly after, moving to Las Vegas and writing/calling Carole often; Carole remained at WU to finish her B.A. They thus began a “commuter marriage” that was to inform their married life: after 58 years of marriage in 2023, they had spent roughly 11 of those years geographically separated by about 200 miles or more.

Both Carole and Tom had brought from their respective small towns a view of marriage that basically placed the wife in the home, the husband out of the home working in his career. They followed that model for less than a year: in 1967, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Carole announced to Tom one night, “I’m bored. You can only clean house just so often—it doesn’t need it every day. I’m going to get a job.” And she did, with the Las Vegas District Attorney, tracking down and correcting errant fathers who were not paying their child support. With part of her salary, she bought what she announced as her first major purchase with her own money: a Singer sewing machine with all the attachments. She used that machine often during the couple’s next thirty years. That job, and that sewing machine, marked a transition for Carole. Still interested in baking, cooking, and sewing (she even tailored a sports jacket for Tom and a prom dress for Kirsten), she began looking for a calling.

Three years later she found it. She and Tom resolved to leave the Air Force and seek further education—she a BS in nursing, Tom a PhD in English Literature. Carole did not look back from that point on; soon to be the mother of two children, and still interested in several domestic pursuits, she and Tom made a transition in their marriage marked by dividing mundane pursuits between them (Tom adopted the bathroom cleaning and the laundry). Kirsten, their daughter (born 1969), began at daycare, then attended Montessori school with a group of dedicated and more-than-competent Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) women. Carole began a long-term program of education and professional growth. That program led her through an MA in Public Health to certification as a Nurse Practitioner, then after more study she became a Family Nurse Practitioner, and much later and finally earned a doctorate (DrPH). Following that, and in many ways the most wide-reaching of her achievements, was the Directorship of the Memphis New Mothers Project—or, as it is sometimes officially called, “a randomized controlled trial of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program conducted in Memphis, TN in [1989-1994]. NFP offers home visits conducted by nurses for disadvantaged first-time mothers during pregnancy and early childhood” (from a 2017 working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research: ).

Dr. David Olds, Founder of the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), wrote the following evaluation of Carole’s part in testing, practicing, and validating the new public health program: “Hundreds of thousands of families in the US and now 7 other countries are being served by the Nurse-Family Partnership – in large part due to Carole’s leadership [as Director of the Memphis New Mothers Project]. NFP mourns the loss of Carole , as do I personally. She made the world a better place.”

Whether bearing and supporting her daughter Kirsten and her son Thomas, supporting and reinforcing her husband Tom, moving up the scale of educational opportunities, baking a special surprise for family and friends, directing a dedicated public health group of nurses and researchers in Memphis, teaching for years in Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing, working for years in the Waco-centered Heart of Texas Region MHMR [Mental Health/Mental Retardation] Center, counseling PTSD sufferers in Waco’s VA facility, or counseling Baylor University students until her Alzheimer’s made her incapable of continuing—whatever Carole Ann McDaniel Hanks did for most of her adult life from 1966 to 2017 (when Alzheimer’s Disease struck), she did indeed make the world a better place.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Starts at 3:00 pm (Central time)

Lake Shore Baptist Church, Waco

5801 Bishop Drive, Waco, TX 76710

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