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March 14, 2023
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Carole Bitterman passed away peacefully on Tuesday March 14, 2023 in Fargo, North Dakota at SMP Health St. Catherine’s North. Carole was 92 years old. Her daughter, Maureen Tomaszewski and Carole’s son, Rory Rhodes confirmed her death. Born in 1930, Carole’s life accomplishments were both personal and professional. Carole was awarded New York State’s Adult Literacy Teacher of the Year in 1994. She was 64 years old. Only two years earlier, she was the first English as a Second Language Teacher in North Tonawanda Public School’s Adult Literacy Program for refugees from the former Soviet Union. Her Ukrainian students’ backgrounds were wide ranging — from a welder to a female neurologist. She didn’t speak a word of Russian — her enthusiastic students joked she could have been an actress. Carole earned a bachelor’s degree in English at SUNY Buffalo in 1969 and master’s in Education from Canisius College in 1974. Carole had graduated from North Tonawanda High School in the late 1940’s. In 1951, she married Albert F. Rhodes and together had seven children. Their multi- generational household included Mary C. Rhodes, (Albert’s mother) and in the early years, Peggy Mulcahy (Mary’s sister) and Mike Mulcahy (Mary’s brother.) Carole started taking college courses at SUNY Buffalo’s night- school, beginning a lifelong dream to go to college in the fall of 1965. Tragically, she lost her husband, Albert at the end of the semester when he died in a car accident. Their seven children were ages four to thirteen. Responding to her new role as a single parent, she returned the following January as a full- time student, eventually graduating on the Dean’s List. Upon completion of her degree when she was 40 years old, she taught 9th grade English at Benjamin Franklin Junior High School in the Town of Tonawanda until 1980. Tutoring Basic Literacy and ESL with the Literacy Volunteers of North Tonawanda had led to her first experience teaching English as a Second Language for a group of Spanish- speaking women at the Albion Correctional Facility. She discovered her ultimate career passion — teaching in the classroom, to adults learning English as a Second Language at the intermediate level. Carole’s second marriage to Russell J. Bitterman in November 1969 continued until Russell’s death in October 1996 when he was 79 years old. They traveled the world with fellow teachers. In July 1997, Carole taught ESL in Poland. She moved to Fargo, North Dakota in 2006 to live with her daughter, Maureen and family. In her new parish, Blessed Sacrament, Carole volunteered to teach ESL and citizenship to Burundians. She was also a lector and sang in the choir. For over fifty years, Carole was a parishioner at St. Francis Assisi Church in Tonawanda. Carole was a lector and eucharistic minister. She taught religious instruction to children including those with disabilities, having completed a certification program from the Department of Catholic Education. Carole is survived by her seven children from her first marriage; Anne Rhodes, Rory Rhodes, Timothy Rhodes, Clare Tucker, Maureen Tomaszewski, Molly Ohar and Michelle Hennessey; and her 13 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren; Russell’s daughters; Carole’s beloved stepdaughters, Noreen Palczynski and Beverly Aloi. Calling hours will be held on Friday March 24, 2023 from 4-7 PM at JOHN O. ROTH FUNERAL HOME, INC., 25 William St. (between Morgan & Broad Sts) in Tonawanda. Carole’s Life will be celebrated on Saturday March 25. 2023 at 11AM at a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Francis of Assisi Church,150 Broad St. in Tonawanda. Everyone welcome. Memorial contributions in memory of Carole may be made to Niagara Hospice, SMP Health-St. Catherine North, Fargo, ND or to World Vision for Ukrainian Refugees. Memories and condolences may be shared at www.ROTHFUNERAL.com