OCEAN CITY — A beloved local resident with “a heart filled with pure gold” was both mourned and celebrated by hundreds of friends and family members this morning with a solemn, but light, ceremony on the beach.

Carolyn Joy Cordial, 41, died peacefully at her home last Saturday after a courageous battle with cancer. Cordial was well known throughout the local community and beyond for her endless kindness and boundless energy for those most in need in the community. Even as her illness began to sap her energy near the end, she continued to advocate for those in need and less fortunate, often putting them ahead of herself.

Cordial spent the last 16 years of her professional life serving the community as a therapist, Assistant Director and Clinical Director of Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) and dedicated much of her time to making a difference in the community.

She counseled youth and families, mentored young adults at risk of falling through the cracks and advocated for the less fortunate. Through her passion to help others, Cordial was instrumental in establishing many programs at WYFCS including the Lower Shore CASA and the SAGES program for adolescent girls.

Last weekend, after her passing, her colleagues at WYFCS documented their loss with a post on its Facebook page. It read, ““Our Sun shines less bright today … She dedicated her life to making a positive difference in our community; counseling youth and families, mentoring young adults, and advocating for the less fortunate especially abused and neglected children. Carolyn will forever be the Sunshine on our Shoulders as we continue her legacy of kindness, compassion, and love to those in need …”

Even elements of her name tell the story of what Cordial was all about. Her middle name, Joy, represented how people felt when they were around her, and her last name, although it was her married name, Cordial, was how she always treated others. While professionally she was a counselor and mentor, she exhibited those qualities even when she was not on the clock and was always quick with a kind word or a bit of advice for those closest to her and even strangers she had just met.

Hundreds of friends and family members gathered on the beach at the Inlet in Ocean City on Wednesday morning for the celebration of her life. Earlier in the morning, her ashes were spread in the ocean she loved so much and the beach setting provided the perfect backdrop for the celebration of her life. At the outset of the ceremony, a gray sky shrouded the early morning sun for the most part, but by the end the clouds broke and the Inlet beach was fittingly cast in bright sunshine. At one point during the ceremony, a couple of playful dolphins leaped in and out of the waves. Pastor Nathan Hyde presided and told those in attendance of Cordial’s wishes to be returned to the sea in a recurring theme throughout the ceremony.

“Her ashes this morning were given to the deep,” he said. “And what a beautiful place for Carolyn to reside.”

Hyde said in the waning days of her life, Cordial encouraged those around her to celebrate life.

“She taught us in the last few months how to dance,” he said, and read a verse from Ecclesiastes evoking that quality.

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance,” the verse goes.

A message from one of Cordial’s nieces read during the ceremony continued the recurring theme of a celebration of life and a return to the sea. The message said the quote was from one of Cordial’s favorite movies, “Chasing Mavericks,” which she watched with her niece.

“We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea,” the quote goes. “Those of us who are, we children of the tides, must return to it again and again.”

Cordial’s daughter Ally said her mom “had a heart filled with pure gold.” Cordial’s husband Billy Cordial read a poem called “Gone from My Sight” from the 18th century by Henry Van Dyke that probably best summed up the celebration.

“I am standing by the seashore
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean

She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sun and sky come to mingle together

Then someone at my side says “There she goes!” Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the places of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her

And just at the moment when someone at my side says “There she goes!” there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout “Here she comes.”

At the close of the ceremony, the hundreds gathered were invited to take a rose petal from a basket and cast it gently into the incoming tide, representing, as the poem suggested, a return to the sea but certainly not a final farewell.