By Kathy Danforth / Published September 2019
With the passing of Carol Wasieleski on May 30 of this year, the pressure washing industry was affected by the loss of a dear friend as well as an appreciated colleague. Carol Wasieleski represented the best blend of the personal and professional relationships that characterize the pressure washing industry. While Carol’s family members were the primary focus of her love and energy, CETA members recognize that they, too, became beneficiaries of Carol’s care.
Carol’s daughter, Stacey Purinton, comments, “My mom was, well, amazing in every which way. She always saw the best in us and everyone. She never gave up on us or herself in difficult times. She was never negative and always taught us to try to be positive.
“My mom was my glue, my rock, my comfort, and my voice of reason. She held our family together and now we are all holding each other together.
“I have to say her biggest strength was her strength. She was the strongest person that I have ever known, and I always told her that I wish I had a quarter of the strength she did. During her fight with cancer, she never gave up fighting. She would say, ‘There is someone else worse off than I am.’”
Carol’s son, Adam, shares that Carol “truly loved life and lived for every day. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, literally! She made my dad catch flies to get them out of the house. I believe in my heart that her only goal in life was to see her entire family happy and thriving—and to spend as much time as possible with each of us. When she was the happiest and most at peace was when she was on her motorcycle on the open road with her husband of 53 years, Michael Wasieleski.”
“My mom was the glue that held our family together,” recalls Carol’s daughter Kelly Simon. “She was always there to help when we needed it or to give us advice when we were having hard times.
“She so loved her grandkids and tried to stay involved in their lives as much as possible even when they lived out of state. She spoiled them rotten, and they could do no wrong in her eyes.”
Purinton adds, “She loved us kids and always bragged, ‘I have the best kids ever,’ and we would always tell her that it was because we had the best parents ever. She loved her grandkids, sometimes more than her own kids, but we all accepted that…LOL.”
Carol’s good times with family were shared at work, as Chuck Prieur with Cleaner Times recalls her claim to fame as the undefeated “cupboard press” champion. Adam explains, “She always wanted our family together and having fun. When I was a kid (and adult), in our old house [the game requires a certain cabinet arrangement] if anyone just happened to be in the kitchen, she would challenge them to a round of cupboard press! That’s when you stand back to back and each push on the counter top as hard as you can to see who can jam the other into their countertop. She always won—mainly because of her stature (short). She would get her butt under yours and lift you into the counter top till you submitted! She always kicked our butts!”
At work Carol brought the same zeal and concern for people. She spent her first years in the pressure washing industry at L & A products and joined CETA in 1993, becoming executive director in 2000. She retired after PowerClean 2007, with a return by request of the CETA board to help with PowerClean 2013. Debbie Murray, current managing director, recalls, “I met Carol through CETA, of course. After helping her in the 2013 PowerClean, she encouraged me to take this position. She was very helpful and inspirational. Even today, when things come up, I am reminded of her words and advice on how to proceed. I can hear her laugh while typing this!”
Carol balanced her concern for people with the knowledge and effort to help them in the situation at hand. Murray says, “Carol was very organized and loved people, and she always had CETA members at heart. She had a wealth of knowledge, and she left a legacy on how to treat people.”
Jeff Theis with ProPulse shares, “Carol always wanted tasks done right. I always thought Carol was very good at details.” Theis recalls having dinner with Carol and giving her a small plaque that essentially read, “100 years from now, the world will not have changed because of how hard you worked, but the world will have changed due to your influence on the life of a child.” Theis says, “She broke down and cried. First and foremost, Carol was a mother and a grandmother, and that is how she treated CETA members.”
But, that is not to say that Carol sugar-coated the world. Theis says he appreciated her earthy sense of humor: “She was not above a salty phrase to describe certain demanding board members. And, by the way, she was usually right!”
Roy Pennington recalls, “Some of my best experiences at a CETA meeting have been the informal ‘chat or B.S. sessions’ that were invariably started by Carol after the various meetings and the show closed for the night. We would have 10-plus active business owners just sitting around talking and telling stories that begin with, “Bubba, ya’ll ain’t gonna believe this….”—all of which was orchestrated by our unofficial ‘social director,’ Ms. Carol. She was always as funny as the day is long and ready to jump in with her own bawdy jokes.
“The one memory that really jumps out at me was when we hosted the CETA show in Vegas, and as a break from traditional ‘educational seminars,’ active members of CETA self-taught the classes or meetings. One night (late) as the bull session broke up, Carol warned me, ‘You better go get some sleep because you are chairing the 8 a.m. meeting tomorrow morning.’ I assured her I would be there, on time and ready to go, complete with a Bloody Mary in my hand. In typical Carol tradition she replied, ‘If you do, I will beat your ass!’ Promptly at 7:50 the next morning I walked into the meeting room with a large Bloody Mary in my hand, much to Carol’s chagrin, and had a great session.”
Prieur appreciates both Carol’s dedication to her work and her personal side once the work was done. “Carol was always totally focused on the task at hand during the conventions,” he observes. “But, when the gavel went down ending the convention, she relaxed. I always enjoyed seeing the satisfaction in her eyes ‘of a convention well done.’”
“Carol had a great smile and a wonderful laugh,” Prieur relates. “But, she did not want her picture taken; and if she got in a photo, she threatened me with death if it appeared in Cleaner Times.”
Carol’s family recognized and appreciated the role of the pressure washing community in Carol’s life. Adam shares, “I worked in the industry for many years, and it was always my favorite time of year at PowerClean to get the opportunity to work with her. I was so proud of my mom to see how hard she worked at every event and especially how many people truly loved her. She truly loved being in the industry and had a passion to see it thrive.”
Stacey affirms, “She loved working for CETA; she met so many good people and made so many long-lasting friends.”
According to Kelly, “She really enjoyed her job working for CETA and really looked forward to PowerClean every year. It was a lot of long days and nights, but she had a lot of fun. She really enjoyed life and wanted to have a good time.”
Adam states that what he appreciates most about Carol was “my mom’s zest for life! She lived every day to the utmost with her kids and her grandkids. She was always the first one to jump in to help, no matter what the task was. She taught our family how to love. She was so full of love for everyone she brought into our circle, even stray friends of her kids that she treated like a family member always.”
That zest is what has made a lasting impact and treasured memories for her family, friends, and colleagues. Joe Jackson with Power Cleaning Equipment, Inc., shares a comment made by well-known speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones at a CETA regional meeting several years ago: “You will be the same person you are today five years from now, except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”
Jackson states, “Carol was one of those influential people in my life. I learned so many things from her that I cannot share them all. But I do want to tell you that she tenaciously pursued ethical behavior and lived a life of honor and integrity in all her dealings with the CETA board members from around the country. She avoided the very appearance of evil or wrongdoing. I always knew any CETA board business that transpired during her watch was sound and proper and honorable. Her love and dedication for her job and to CETA was well known by all who knew her. I will miss her a lot, but she will not be forgotten by me and others, and her life example will continue to live inside all of us who loved her.”