Bernadine Carlson obituary

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of Bernadine Carlson.


Dr. Bernadine "Penny" Carlson, professor emerita of English at Western Michigan University, died May 17. She was 97.

Carlson joined the faculty in 1953 and retired in 1986 after nearly 33 years of service to the University. She was preceded in death by two husbands, including the first, Theodore Carlson, WMU professor emeritus of economics.

Bernadine "Penny" Carlson

The Kalamazoo resident made a name for herself early in her academic career as a writing and communications consultant to private industry. Her seminars, writings and other efforts were particularly valued by the National Paper Management Association, which granted her an honorary life membership for her contributions to the association.

After retiring, Carlson co-authored two books with Dr. Bradley S. Hayden, a former English department colleague at WMU. The texts are "Pre-professional Writing" published in 1991 and Effective Writing published in 1992. They have been widely used in academia and business as tools to evaluate and enhance the English usage and grammatical skills of employees as well as students.

In addition to teaching, Carlson spent nearly 10 years as director of the WMU English department's Remedial Writing Clinic. She also served for several years on the University's Medallion Scholarship Selection Committee and personally funded four of these prestigious awards, which are part of one of the largest scholarship programs in American higher education.

Carlson was active in numerous other educational and community organizations. She served as president of several, including the WMU Emeriti Club, the Kalamazoo Association of Retired School Personnel and the Kalamazoo Women's Republican Study Group.

She received a State Distinguished Service Award from the Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel for her long and dedicated service to improving the status and welfare of older citizens.

Carlson earned a bachelor's and a master's degree from WMU in 1952 and 1957, respectively, and a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan in 1972.


A celebration of Carlson's life will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, at Friendship Village, 1400 N. Drake Road in Kalamazoo.


The family obituary and message book are available at

Memorial gifts may be made to the Friendship Village Scholarship Fund or WMU Lee Honors College Medallion Scholarship Fund.