In this interview, Constance Worthington begins by talking about her family’s involvement in Brown University, and her eventual decision to transfer to Pembroke College. She then discusses her challenging time at Brown being a student, single mother, and a widow, and what it was like raising a son later diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Worthington discusses her involvement the Josiah Carberry Book Fund and the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. She also mentions her female role models at Pembroke during both her time as a student and professional in Providence. She goes on to explain her extensive career after Brown University, first as an English teacher, then shifting into her social work in London and Providence.
In the second half of the interview, Worthington speaks about her world travels with her husband Terry, and more specifically about their emotional trip with her son, Michael, in 2014 to Vietnam, where they visited the approximate location of her first husband’s death.
Recorded on June 8, 2015 in Providence, RI
Interviewed by Christy Law Blanchard
Suggested Chicago style citation: Worthington, Constance. Interview. By Christy Law Blanchard. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. June 8, 2015.
Connie Worthington was born in Providence, Rhode Island to parents heavily involved in the Brown University community, her father an editor of the Alumni Magazine and writer for the Providence Journal, and her mother a probation officer who had also worked in the Admissions Office at Brown.
Worthington attended Mount Holyoke College, but then transferred to Pembroke College and graduated in 1968 with an A.B. in political science and English. She has succeeded her father as Josiah Carberry’s willing servant, from the time Carberry was discovered on a bulletin board at Brown to his status as legend today.
In her sophomore year of university, Worthington met her first husband Michael John Carley and had one son, Michael John, Jr. The family moved to the Florida Panhandle in 1964 where they witnessed first-hand the racial tension that was boiling over at the time. Her husband was drafted to serve in Vietnam, and died in combat, leaving her to raise her son in Providence as she finished her degree.
After graduating cum laude in 1968, Worthington became an English teacher at the Lincoln School in Providence, while also working part-time as an editor for the Rhode Island Supreme Court. After years of working, she moved to England to marry her second husband, John O’Shea, and started working for The Hunger Project and Amnesty International in London. After separating from her husband, Worthington and her son moved back to Providence, where she began working for the Rhode Island Religious Coalition on Abortion Rights and Planned Parenthood. She met her current husband Terry Tullis (Professor Emeritus of Geology at Brown) in Providence. In 2001, Worthington won the Outstanding Philanthropic Citizen’s Award from the Rhode Island chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.