CAP Member Passes, Community Remembers
The community was saddened to hear of the death of Dr. Richard Paul Karoll on April 15. He was 84.
Karoll served the area for over 40 years as a gynecologist, obstetrician and pathologist. Many long-time residents have happy stories of Karoll delivering their babies and Facebook lit up over the weekend as news of Karoll’s death spread.“He delivered my daughter. Dr. Karoll was wonderful!” is a typical comment.Karoll also served his country as an Air Force pilot and was a pilot and flight surgeon during the Korean War.
He went on to practice medicine for many years in Ridgecrest, and was looked upon by many as an important part of the community.“He was an amazing man, he would give the shirt off his back,” said Britni Johnson, who is technically Karoll’s stepdaughter but was raised as a daughter after he married her mother, Elizabeth.“He was very loving, caring and kind. There are not enough adjectives to describe him.”Karoll grew up and went to medical school in New York. “It was just decided from a young age that he was going to be a doctor,” Britni said.
Karoll chose OB-GYN as his specialty after his mother got cervical cancer. “He wanted to help women.”He discovered this area by chance, according to Britni. Karoll was in the Air Force and living in Reno. He stopped in China Lake to refuel and fell in love with the desert.“So he decided to move to the desert where he fell in love. I think growing up in New York and the congestion of the city I think he liked the slower pace and the beauty of the desert.”
Karoll was widowed with three children from a previous marriage when he met Elizabeth, who was a labor delivery nurse, Britni said. The two eventually married and Karoll raised Britni and her two brothers as his own.“I was the only girl,” Britni said. This could lead to some interesting interactions, as in when Karoll took it upon himself to vet the boyfriend she eventually married.Nathanial Johnson was dating Britni and the doctor invited him over for a little chat. Johnson remember the experience with a laugh.“He called me and said ‘I’d like to talk to you if you have a moment, come on over to my house.’“I didn’t know what to expect, I hadn’t encountered anyone of his background. It felt like I was going into the principal’s office,” Johnson said. Karoll laid out the ground rules for dating his daughter and complimented Johnson’s father, whom he worked with.
“I know your father, he’s a nice upstanding guy so I expect the same of you,” Johnson recalls Karoll said.In retrospect, Johnson said he admired Karoll’s concern about his daughter. “In fact, I’ll probably end up being the same way with my daughter.
”Apparently, the talk did some good. Johnson has been married to Britni for nearly 10 years and they have two children. (Karoll had eight grandchildren total.)“He was great with grandkids,” Johnson said. “We have pictures of him playing with them and holding them with a big smile. He loved having the kids in the house, he loved having the pitter patter of little feet.”Most everyone remembers Karoll as a very busy man, but Britni said he always made time for her. “I was a ballet dancer my whole life and he was my number one fan. He was at every recital. No matter how busy he was at work, he still made sure we had him there. We had his support in everything we did.”Another memory brings a laugh.
“He taught me to drive a stick-shift!”He was also a whiz at helping with homework. “I feel like, in college, I had to study harder than a lot of people did. He was so patient with me. He was so good at as I call it ‘dumbing things down for me.’“I always said if he wanted to quit practicing [medicine] he should teach at the college.”Karoll could have a serious demeanor, but his sense of humor was impressive. “He always used to have these sayings. I would talk to him on the phone, he would joke around about how in his day when he was younger,” Johnson said.“He was very serious most of the time, but at the same time, but if he thought something was funny or if he had a joke to tell his whole face would light up.”
His son-in-law remembered Karoll as having “a great deep laugh.“He had a great sense of humor but it wasn’t given away easily you could say. It was such an accomplishment when you made him laugh.”Karoll moved away from the Ridgecrest area four years ago. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, his children Glen, James, Roger, Michael, Britni and Robert, and eight grandchildren. He requested that no funeral services or memorial services be held.Britni said this request reflect’s Karoll’s humility. “He was so humble, everything was about everyone else. He didn’t want a big fuss about him.”