Columbiana women who make a difference – Carolyn Sockwell

Published 3:34 pm Monday, January 24, 2011

Carolyn Sockwell in front of the CUMC wall hanging that she made. (Special / Phoebe Robinson)

By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of four articles on Columbiana women who make a difference in our community.

Dr. Carolyn Dratz Sockwell learned to sew, knit, tat, needlepoint, embroider and crochet at her maternal grandmother’s knee. That creative talent guided her education and career in Interior Design: B.S. (University of Georgia); M.A.T. and E.D.S (University of Montevallo); E.D.D. (University of Alabama); Registered Interior Designer (R.I.D.); and a teaching career for 23 years at the University of Montevallo and Jefferson State, where she retired as program coordinator of interior design on July 1, 2010.

However, her professional career is not the focus of this article, but her gift of time and talent she gives to others behind the scenes. Sockwell, a member of Columbiana United Methodist Church, has decorated the church in many ways: The office of music minister, the Rev. Nic Patterson, with a quilt and wall hangings she made with a music theme; Rick Patterson’s Sunday school classroom with beautiful paintings; a stunning, embroidered, floor- to-ceiling wall hanging; and many embroidered pieces for the sanctuary. Sockwell’s use of color has a simple theme.

“If Jesus didn’t make the color and it is not in nature, don’t use it.”

For six years, Sockwell has compiled a daily devotion that she emails personally to those people who request to receive it, now in the hundreds, including this author. To receive this inspirational devotion, email

Sockwell also ministers to those in need behind the scenes with a card, food, visit, handmade quilt, usually delivered with a white feather, but no name. This author has been the recipient of this behind-the-scenes ministry.

After a fall last winter that shattered my kneecap, I was home bound for eight weeks, and have been unable to walk well since. Sockwell came to my home one day and brought a bright, colorful quilt that she had made for me filled with squares of crosses. As she sewed each cross panel, she had people pray over the cross so that the quilt was filled with the prayers of the believers for me. Never has anything touched my life as this quilt for it was a symbol to me of God’s faithfulness and love for me, at a very low time of my life.

Carolyn Sockwell has touched so many lives in Columbiana by deeds that no one knows, even the recipient. God’s agape love in her has made her an angel unaware, a Columbiana woman who has made a difference.

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by e-mail at

About Phoebe Donald Robinson

I am President of Donald Real Estate and Ins. Co., Inc., a company that my grandfather , Charles J. Donald, founded in 1925. I am the third generation owner of the business. I am also the Columbiana Columnist for the Shelby County Reporter.

email author More by Phoebe Donald