Carol Hagedorn Buschmann, 96, of Sheboygan passed away on Saturday, September 30, 2023 surrounded by her family.
Carol was born on May 13, 1927, the second daughter of Otto & Helen Hagedorn. As a child, she was active year-round in a variety of sports and was an avid fan of both radio and films. She would often crawl in the space behind the family radio, sing a song, and pretend her voice was coming from inside.
After graduating from Central High in 1945, she pursued her interest in the entertainment industry by attending the CBS school for broadcasting in Chicago.
While there, she got a part time job typing the latest edition of the World Book Encyclopedia. Between school, work, and a social life in both Chicago and Sheboygan, hard work and busy days were established as her routine.
On one of her frequent train rides to Sheboygan, she encountered a high school friend, Dottie Hummitzsch, who asked if she would be interested in joining a female barbershop group that was looking for a baritone to replace a member who was leaving. Carol agreed, and so began the road to fame with the Chordettes. By the end of the groups’ performing years, she had established herself as the longest, most involved member of the group, recording every song and missing only one tour to give birth to her daughter, Janet, who Carol maintained was her greatest accomplishment.
During the group’s early years, the Chordettes became well known in the SPEBSQSA (National Barbershop Association) which led to their landslide win on Arthur Godfrey’s CBS Talent Scout Show. The victory secured their place in the “Godfrey Family” that included appearances on all three of his shows, prompted their move to New York, and began an association with Godfrey that lasted until 1953.
Over time, the Chordettes branched out into recording popular music including chart toppers, Mr. Sandman, Lollipop, Never on Sunday, Born to be with you, Hummingbird, and others. The signature blend of their voices gained them international popularity, but more importantly to Carol, earned them the respect of their peers in the profession that culminated in their admittance to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.
Carol married Bob Buschmann in 1952. The couple resided in New York where Carol continued performing until the Chordettes disbanded. Then together, the couple ran the White Rooster Cocktail Lounge and Restaurant on Long Island, a favorite hangout of many, including the New York Jets.
In 1968, Bob, Carol, and daughter Janet returned to their roots in Sheboygan, where they ran the popular downtown sporting goods store, Toro’s. The store morphed into Sheboygan’s only trophy shop, where Carol once again established herself in the community. One of her proudest achievements was being inducted into the Sheboygan Softball Association Hall of Fame, not for her ability to swing a bat, but rather for her generosity to the association and the community at large.
Throughout her retirement, Carol repeatedly expressed gratitude for the many wonderful people and experiences in her life, underscoring her humility and approachability to the end.
Carol is survived by her daughter, Janet and her husband David Sly, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, extended family, friends, and even after all these years, many fans. She is further survived by Marjie Needham Latzko, of New York, the last of the eight women who took turns singing with the quartet over its nearly 30 year run.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Bob, and her sister, Janet Schulte of Kansas.
The family would like to thank Meadow View Health and Sharon Richardson Hospice for their care.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. Visitation will be from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service at Ballhorn Chapels, 1201 N. 8th Street, Sheboygan.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial gifts for Carol directly to the Gathering Place or Sharon Richardson Hospice in Sheboygan Falls.