From Massachusetts to Elk City, Garrison comes full circle
The SHERO campaign (female heroes), sponsored by Oklahoma Women’s Coalition, aims to shine a light on Oklahoma’s every day female heroes who serve as role models in a state that ranks low in quality of life for women. The campaign runs through Mother’s Day. The Beckham County Record will feature the lives of a few of our local SHEROs until the culmination of the campaign.
Having been raised in Massachusetts, Carla Garrison landed in Elk City with her husband of 51 years, Ron when they purchased a Borden Milk route. They are the proud parents of two sons, Roy who is married to Tonda Thompson Garrison and Scott who is married to Melissa Kilhoffer. The grandchildren are the apple of her eye and they include Roy’s children, Tory and Guy along with Scott’s Sam.
“When Tory was five years old, I was driving a Honda convertible. I told her that when she turned 16 she might want to drive my car. By golly, she remembered that and now she is driving my car,” Carla laughed.
When Roy graduated from high school and went to New Mexico to college she realized that Scott was following him the next year. With the empty nest hitting her in the face, she looked at hosting foreign exchange students.
“I thought that I couldn’t stand an empty house, so we got three foreign exchange students. What they didn’t tell me, was that after a year.. they leave too. I got so attached to them that after three… I said, oh I think I can do have an empty house rather than loosing another kid,” Garrison explained.
She still keeps in contact with those kids. They include Johan Svedbrant, who is not a physician from Sweden; Alexandra Ringling from Germany; and Joan Sabino from Brazil. Each relationship is different, but to Ron and Carla they are all their kids and remain part of the family.
Carla’s father was a first generation immigrant from Denmark and calls herself a very protected child. The first time she was away from home was when she applied to a