The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs notes, with sadness, the passing of longtime volunteer Carolyn Apple who died in her Dover, Del. home on Jan. 24, 2020. Born in Dorchester County, Md. in 1956 and trained as a physician, Apple practiced emergency medicine in several locations on the Delmarva Peninsula, completing her career as a founding owner of Eden Hill Express Care in Dover. Upon retirement, she participated in a wide variety of volunteer activities including service as a doctor and teacher in medically underserved parts of the world.

Carolyn Apple in front of the display, “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis,” at Legislative Hall.

In 2012, Apple began her volunteer service with the division’s Collections, Affiliates, Research and Exhibits (CARE) Team when she facilitated the donation of the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection to the State of Delaware. The collection contains over 650 photographs taken by Willis, a Dover native, and his colleagues who served as official military photographers during service in Western Europe between 1943 and 1945.

Not content knowing that it was in good hands, Apple volunteered to process the collection, documenting and preparing each photo for safe storage and unraveling its subject matter through painstaking Internet research. Working eight to 10 volunteer hours per week for 18 months, she pieced together the collection’s history and took the lead in developing displays and exhibits at venues across the state including Legislative Hall in Dover, the Middletown Historical Society and the Seaford Museum. She also researched and wrote five online displays featuring photographs from the collection.

Following up on her passion for American military history, Apple also provided leadership in the development of “When Janie Comes Marching Home: Women’s Fight to Serve,” “Middletown Goes To War,” and the online exhibit “Drawing America to Victory: The Persuasive Power of the Arts in World War I.” On Oct. 19, 2016, Gov. Jack Markell recognized her efforts when he presented her with a Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Photo of Carolyn Apple and Jack Markell
Carolyn Apple receiving a Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award from Gov. Markell in 2016.

According to CARE Team manager Edward McWilliams, “Carolyn put her heart and soul into what she was doing and was very creative in exhibit development.” He noted that she would bring in family collectables from the World-War-II-era to compliment the Willis photographs and other items from the State’s collections, and, “when we didn’t have a prop for an exhibit, she would make it” by utilizing her skills as a potter to craft items such as ceramic doughnuts and a vintage Wrigley gum package. Finally, he noted, “she was a lot of fun to work with—she had a very pleasant disposition, was highly intelligent and was a great team player. She was a wonderful asset to our division.”