The ballroom will be a emptier next year as friends recalled the life of Carolyn Hogan, 67, Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church. 

Hogan helped found Orange’s Mardi Gras celebration when it combined with the city’s longtime Gumbo Cookoff in 2004; and served as the festival’s first queen. She was also a charter member of the Creole Krewe. 

Just before her death, she and husband Melvin were able to briefly mark their 50th wedding anniversary.

Church pastor the Rev. Mike Umbenhaur said that while some in life are afraid to dance for many reasons, Carolyn “ … danced through life, and danced with God.” Hogan died Friday.

“When we had the Christmas parade [that day], we had our annual open house here,” he said. “And she had made cookies for the event. She fought to stay with us for her 50th anniversary. The couple may not have gotten to say their vows as they had planned, but you know what? They lived their vows.”

Longtime friend Mike Trahan recounted his big crush on Carolyn and how he and friends would sneak in to the “kiddie show” just to sit next to her. “We always noticed she had this good-looking blonde guy with her named Melvin Hogan. We kept sneaking in hoping he’d ‘mess up,’ but he never did. Smart man.”

Trahan, reading a few e-mails from friends, continued. Robert Sims wrote, “I can’t remember a time when she was not gracious or nice to me.” 

David Sheridan: “We used to talk so much at football games that our voices would become hoarse.” 

Melvin Hogan: “I remember her love of animals. When we were out driving, she would never let me pass a stray animal without stopping to pick it up.”

Betty Harmon, who worked with Carolyn at the Orange chamber and in other organizations, recalled, “Without Melvin and Carolyn we would not have had Mardi Gras in Orange, Texas, today. I’m very pleased and honored to have known her. I worked with her in the Service League. She was persistent and knew how to get things done.” 

Speaking to the Hogan family, Harmon told them, “She was a wife and mother first. I never saw her out without all of you … She will always be remembered and she loves you.”