Carol’s father, Mick Livock, was a World War II veteran who was captured at Dunkirk. He spent seven years as a prisoner of war (POW). That’s where the seed to move to America was planted. Livock became close with another POW, an American pilot. After the war, the American pilot moved to Gobles. The Livocks, including the family dog, soon followed.
Mick Livock became a maintenance man and a bus driver at the school, eventually retiring from Gobles. Carol, along with her twin sister, Susan, and her brother, Ian, entered Gobles Public Schools in 1960. Carol met her future husband, Dick Johnson, who graduated in 1965 and soon left for Vietnam. Carol graduated in 1967, and when Dick returned that year, they married in December. Dick worked at General Motors until he retired. Retirement didn’t sit well with him, Carol said, so he started working at the school in the maintenance department, where’s he been for the last 10 years. Next year, the couple will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
Carol’s sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Doug Osmun, married the same year, and still call Gobles home. Their brother Ian, is still in town as well. There’s no place their extended family would rather be, Carol said.
“We were born English, but we became Americans by choice. We chose Gobles.”
When Carol’s dad passed away 10 years ago, “we didn’t have family here,” Carol said. “We didn’t have cousins or aunts or uncles. But the school and community embraced us. We had our Gobles family,” she said.
In addition to raising her family here and volunteering at school and in the community, Carol joined the city commission 10 years ago. Her dad and her brother both served on the commission. Carol didn’t think she was commission material, but when the city went through a recall, she knew she wanted to help. Her friend and city clerk Paula Sipes encouraged her to fill a seat. After a year as a commissioner, Carol served as Mayor for two years. After a short break, she came back as a commissioner for three years, and has been Mayor for the last four.
She is proud of the relationship between the city and the school. “I don’t think one could operate without the other,” she said. “The connection is getting closer and that’s good. (Superintendent) Jeff (Rehlander) comes to meetings and lets us know what’s going on. We talk about things happening in town so he knows. If we weren’t working together, the city would suffer,” Carol said.
In addition to serving as the Mayor of Gobles, Carol and her sister Susan have run the concession stand for the school district for 10 years. They do the marketing, ordering, cooking, and cleaning, she said. “It’s a lot of hard work,” she said.
Still known as the Livock twins, she and Susan take on just about anything that is tossed their way. When athletic director Chris Miller calls, Carol said, “I pick up the phone and say, ‘What do you want, Miller?’ He knows I won’t say no,” she said.
For Carol and her extended family, it’s a labor of love. Her daughter, Loriann Harbaugh, graduated from Gobles and is a teacher here. She works the concession stand, too. The grandchildren have all pitched in, and Carol calls on other friends to lend a hand sometimes, too.
“These people mean everything to me,” she said. “I’m very dedicated to them and they are very loyal to me. I love walking down the hallway at school and hearing the kids say, ‘Hi, Mrs. Johnson.’ It keeps me going. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”