Our dear friend and colleague Carole A. Bartkowicz of Elmwood Park, Ill., passed away on July 18, 2016, after a yearlong battle with cancer. Carole was not just a colleague; she was a friend to many. Her fun-loving spirit, dedication to her profession as a court reporter, and her commitment to living each day to the fullest made her easy to love. Carole will be remembered by those who knew her well as kind, generous, never taking no for an answer, and an utmost professional.
Carole was an amazing court reporter who mentored other reporters and provided guidance to many. Carole began her court reporting career in 1968 and was selected in 2014 by the National Court Reporters Association to be inducted into an elite group of reporters as a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters. Carole remained active in the profession inside and outside of depositions, serving on both Triton College and DePaul University’s advisory boards. She also held numerous roles within professional organizations. Among the many professional roles she held were treasurer and president of the Chicago Exchange Reporters Association, co-founder of the Illinois Court Reporters Association, chairwoman of the Illinois CSR Licensing Board, and various committee positions with the National Shorthand Reporters Association. She also published numerous articles and seminars on various topics in court reporting, including co-authoring the Illinois CSR Code of Ethics. Carole’s knowledge, and commitment to the advancement of the profession continues on through those that she taught and mentored over the years.
Outside of her professional life Carole was a loving wife, sister, aunt, and great-aunt. She was also an avid horseback rider and horse lover who held numerous positions in the Mid-America Horse Show Association. Carole was also an active member of St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Church.
Carole Bartkowicz, RPR, CMRS, was a friend of mine. Much more importantly, she was a friend of Illinois Court Reporters Association ‑‑ or Illinois Shorthand Reporters Association, as it was known in the early days and the Chicago Exchange Reporters Association before that. She and her longtime business partner, Diane Dorwart, were instrumental in forming and promoting an association to include freelancers, officials, and CART providers ‑‑ a cohesive family for all. They worked with Sally Cochran, Jim Hartnett, Brenda Launius, and others to lay our framework and expand their vision. ILCRA lost a stalwart supporter, and our profession lost a leading light.
Carole and Diane formed Diane‑Carole Reporting in Chicago and were a force to be reckoned with on many levels, constantly pushing our state association forward. Carole helped write the original bylaws for ILCRA, and ILCRA’s Code of Ethics is based on her and Diane’s work at the national level on NCRA’s Committee on Professional Ethics.
After graduating from MacCormac College, Carole was involved in reporting for more than four decades ‑‑ which not everyone can say! She served countless years on the Illinois Certified Shorthand Reporter board, including several as chair, and created and dictated many of our tests. Before starting Di‑Car, she reported with McCorkle and joined Pohlman Reporting in 2009, where she finished her illustrious career. Carole was always professional and could disagree without being disagreeable. She would do anything for anyone and had great opinions on many subjects. She knew a lot of different things, was unoffensive, unobtrusive, smart as a whip, and as charming as could be.
Carole earned ILCRA’s Distinguished Service Award in 1998, which was my first exposure to her. What an amazing person she was! Everyone who knew her loved her. She was a soft person, a gentle person, a great mentor, and a constant trainer in many areas. She always had an opinion and never hesitated to share her thoughts, experience, or ideas, usually with a smile and her easy laugh. She welcomed strangers, made friends easily, and always had a story or anecdote at the ready.
She volunteered countless hours in the reporting arena as well as at her church and in her horseshow circles, especially the Mid‑American Horseshow Association, where she also served many years in leadership. She’d never decline a request ‑‑ and she also wouldn’t take no for an answer when she wanted your assistance.
Carole became a Fellow of NCRA’s Academy of Professional Reporters in 2014, and it was especially fitting that Nancy Davis, ILCRA’s longtime executive director, became a Fellow in that same class ‑‑ a great year for Illinois!
I find it ironic that Diane passed away on July 13, 2005, and Carole on July 18, just a few days and 11 years apart. They were truly joined at the hip. If you saw one, you saw the other, and their personalities and skills complemented and enhanced every project they undertook. They were good business partners and worked tirelessly writing articles, presenting seminars, and providing one‑on‑one advice, usually centered on ethics and helping reporters “do the right thing.” Their work for ILCRA and unwavering support was a labor of love.
Carole was married for 46 years to Ron Bartkowicz ‑‑ also a big milestone that many don’t achieve. Ron has said that she was the best campaign manager he had when running for the bench; many suggested that he just stay home and let Carole take care of his campaigns. That clearly worked out well!
Ron sent me a beautiful history of their time together, part of which I want to share here. These are Ron’s words which touched me, and I pass on to you: “I ask you to take 5 or 10 seconds and remember an event with Carole. Remember her smile and radiant eyes. Store this memory in your memory bank and bring it back whenever her name is mentioned. This is how I believe she wants to be remembered.”
So, Carole, I trust you and Diane are drinking champagne up in heaven, and I know that you are both continuing to watch over court reporters ‑‑ because that’s just the way you always were. Rest in peace, my friends. A life well lived is a beautiful legacy. I thank you for sharing yours with ILCRA and the reporting profession.
Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, RDR, CRR, CRC
NCRA Past President
St. Charles, Ill.