The owner of three German Shepherd dogs over roughly 40 years, Caroline M. "Carol" Fields was affectionately called "the German Shepherd lady" by her Riverside neighbors.
"That was how people knew her," said North Common Council Member Joseph Golombek.
Born Caroline Hofmann in Buffalo, she grew up in Black Rock. Both her parents were German immigrants who came to the United States in the 1920s, her son James said.
She graduated from Riverside High School, went to business school and worked in medical billing and as a medical secretary.
In 1963, right before her oldest child was born, Fields and her husband, Edward, moved into a home in Riverside, where "she was always kind of quietly very involved" in the community, James said.
An "all-around volunteer" at All Saints Catholic Church, Fields helped clean the church and worked in its food pantry.
Fields was a founding member of the defunct Elgas Argus Roesch Skillen block club – EARS for short, an acronym for the four streets – and "wouldn't hesitate to let me know what was going on the community," Golombek said.
Fields continued living in the family home in Riverside until her family moved her into an assisted living facility in 2018.
She was 83 when she succumbed to Covid-19 on April 26 at St. Joseph Post-Acute Center in Orchard Park.
Her family believes she contracted the virus after moving to a second assisted living facility about six months ago, before she was transferred to Catholic Health's Covid-19 Treatment Facility at St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga, where she was also treated.
Since February, Catholic Health staff at the Orchard Park facility helped keep her connected electronically to her loved ones, who were not allowed to see her face-to-face, her son said.
"It was kind of surreal. They would hold an iPad in front of her for hours while we talked to her and told her it was OK. The hospital personnel was our surrogate," he said. "We weren't able to be there. We owe them a special thank you."
Her husband of 39 years, Edward, died in 2001.
In addition to James, Mrs. Fields is survived by two other sons, Ronald and Gary; two granddaughters; two step granddaughters; and one sister, Sylvia Regan.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.