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Carl’s Story

Welcome to our CaringBridge site. We created it in August 2012 to keep family and friends updated on Carl's cancer journey. Carl lost his battle with cancer and went to his heavenly home on January 23, 2013. We appreciate your words of love here on the Guestbook. Click on Read My Story below for additional info. Thank you. - Marilyn, Greg, Lynée, Matthew, Braden, Camden, Justina, & Brandt

Carl had a melanoma cancer spot removed on his arm, along with the sentinel lymph nodes, in 2009. The lymph nodes were checked and cleared of all possible melanoma. As we've now learned, melanoma microbes can go undetected, skip lymph nodes, or remain dormant for years, lying in wait to metastasize...

Fast forward three years to July and August 2012. A kidney stone scan revealed nearby swollen lymph nodes, and a biopsy was recommended. The biopsy results showed a mass of melanoma in those lymph nodes. Carl's oncologist immediately ordered MRI and PET scans. Both showed 3 melanoma cancer tumors in his brain (2 large, 1 small). The PET scan showed lymph node areas affected by melanoma in the torso area. Surgery to extract the 2 large brain tumors occured on 8/21/2012, and Stereotactic RadioSurgery (a one-time pin-point radiation) for the smaller tumor on 9/12/2012.  Additional brain tumors found by MRI were radiated 10/24/2012. At the CU Anschutz Cancer Center Melanoma Clinic, Carl underwent three months of IV systemic immunodrug therapy as the only treatment option given, as standard chemo and radiation have not medically proven to be successful at this stage.

“'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His word;

Just to rest upon His promise;

Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,

How I've proved Him o'er and o'er,

Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!

O for grace to trust Him more.

”Proverbs 16:3: "Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. The Lord works out everything for His own ends." - Carl's life verse

My Dad was born on October 27, 1940, in Meade, Kansas, to a Mennonite pastor and school teachers, Jacob and Mary, who were also farmers. Dad is proud of his farm roots! He has two older sisters, Gerry and Pauline. After moving to various states, the family settled in Reedley, CA, near Fresno. That's when he met my mom...they were 12!

Dad spent two years studying music at Biola University in S.CA (my alma mater), and the last two at Tabor College in KS. He and my mom were married on August 11, 1961, between their jr and sr years of college. They both graduated from Tabor and went on to graduate school, my dad for music and my mom for elem ed. They ended up in Baltimore, MD, in 1966 where my Dad received his Doctorate in Music degree at Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins Univ. While he was studying there, he was Director of Admissions, Opera Director, and Voice Prof, along with singing opera and oratorio roles with many different companies.

I was born in 1969 and Greg in 1977 in Baltimore. In 1979, we moved to Louisville, KY, where Dad began the Sacred Music Drama program at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was there that he had inspiration to write and publish his book "Sacred Music Drama: The Producer's Guide." In 1983, we moved to Greeley, CO, where Dad took over as Director of Opera Theater, Voice Prof, and Graduate Student Advisor at the University of Northern Colorado. He retired from UNC in 2004. He also was the Conductor of the Greeley Chorale for 20 years, a 100-voice community choir that has taken many international tours.

He has been both a Visiting Fellow and Scholar at Cambridge Univ. England, and in 2010 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Opera Association. Dad has done many other things, from guest directing and conducting to recently teaching voice in La Paz, Mexico, at their music academy. They have always loved the southern Baja region, and since having a home there in 1999, they have made every effort to spend as much time as possible vacationing in that beautiful area. The past 3 years in La Paz has especially taken them on a new journey of involvement in their local English church, mission ministries, and the La Paz music academy.

They are thoroughly enjoying retirement, which for my parents has never meant being a couch potato! My parents have also spent countless hours at Work out West in Greeley doing exactly that...working out! My Dad has always been in incredibly fit shape, playing college sports and running many miles a week. He is the strongest and most hard-working person I know.

We are thankful for all the vacations we've shared together over the years (we affectionately call those our "Gatherings"), with the most recent in June to the East Coast and Mexico over the holidays, and for all the blessings that have come from those.

Celebrating their 50th anniversary August 2011 with 161 guests in their home was a party never to be forgotten!!

DAD, WE LOVE YOU!  You were healed in HEAVEN on January 23, 2013.

  - Lynee Gerbrandt Graves

Latest Journal Update

Two years later...

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Carl's homegoing.....

As I watch the sunrise over the lake this morning, I am reminded that God continually gives us the light that follows the darkness of the night.  He leads us along His path, where we encounter the lows and the highs------valleys, plains, and mountain tops. Even though we don't know the future, He has promised to hold us with His right hand, where He is always ready and willing to give us His peace, hope, joy, and forgiveness. God asks us for a grateful, tender, and listening heart, so we don't miss the surprises and blessings He has planned! Yes, He cares that much about each one of us and is simply waiting for us to respond to Him in thankfulness.


Highlights of the past year have included:

--watching the Broncos games with Lynée and her family every Sunday

--traveling with Greg to visit friends in Kansas City and going up to Vail for fishing and sightseeing (ask Greg about his 45 fish he caught in two days!!)

--watching grandson, Braden (21), play several soccer games with his Dordt College soccer team both in Colorado and Nebraska

--watching the other three grandchildren, Camden (17), Justina (10) and Brandt (7), play their soccer games close to home

--meeting my two California childhood girlfriends for a five-day visit in San Francisco

--visiting Memphis to hear Greg sing The Fantasticks, bonding with his lovely host family,meeting the locals, jogging down the streets with the trees full of brightly colored leaves, seeing the Grizzlies play basketball, and many other sightseeing adventures.......and the fabulous southern cooking......ahhhhhhhh.............this is a gritty city, and I fell in love with it

--traveling with the 8 of us to Costa Rica, and visiting sites from coast to coast, including mind-boggling experiences like white-water rafting, zip-lining, and snorkeling------(the four grandkids thought Nana was pretty cool to expand her physical activities past running and lifting weights at the gym!)

--reconnecting with my Friesen family cousins in Hillsboro, Kansas, while on a trip with high school senior Camden and family to visit two colleges in the area

--singing with the Greeley Chorale and enjoying the beautiful music that permeates my heart and soul

--having a warm, tender, as well as exhilarating Thanksgiving Day spent at the home of our dear family friends, the  Robinsons...this is the 48th anniversary of our Turkey Bowl Football game, and we had 22 players on the field...(Kids can start playing when they are three years old)..Justina and Brandt each made a touchdown!!  The ages ranged from 7 to the 70's.....Ray and Ruth, who initiated this event in 1966 in Baltimore, were there from North Carolina to celebrate, as were other East Coast relatives, and friends from Australia, who played for the first time

--renting a house right on the beach for the 8 of us in Newport Beach, California, the day after Christmas for 2 weeks, seeing the sights of the area, connecting with family and friends, running on the boardwalk between Balboa and Newport piers, having wonderful couldn't get much better

--going out with local friends to eat, watching plays, going to operas, musicals, and concerts, enjoying art galleries, watching sports events in Denver, and other activities have brightened up my life and been such blessings to me

--my Bible study at church

--I still substitute teach once in a while...I love those bright eager homeschool students


My daughter says I’ve come a long way in regard to independence and the fear of treading the unknown waters, while my son says as long as I’m moving, no matter how fast or slow, I’m all right!!  As of now, I’m happy to take what they say about me as gospel truth!!  What would I do without my precious family to keep me in good humor!


Thank you for coming into my life over the past years -- for your support, prayers,and kindness. If you are planning to come through Colorado, please call and perhaps we can meet face-to-face!




13 people hearted this



carolyn tarman
By Carolyn Tarman
Just keep on trucking!
carolyn tarman
By Carolyn Tarman
You just keep on trucking!
David and Joyce Reed
By Joyce Reed
You are a blessing! And you are moving at exactly the right pace because God continues to lead your heart. Thank you for sharing this beautiful reflection of your journey.
Dave Gerbrandt
Good to read what's going on in your life and family. Keep on trusting the One who is trustworthy.
Dave and Marilyn Gerbrandt
Duane Franzen
God's Blessings & Abundance to the entire Gerbrandt/Graves family now & always. :-)