Remembering senior Carieal “L” Doss


Courtesy of Johnetta Doss

Johnetta Doss smiles with her daughter, senior Carieal “L” Doss.

By Zoe DeYoung, Parkway West High School

On April 17 our community lost senior Carieal “L” Doss. After transferring from Parkway Central midway into her junior year, she became known by teachers and peers for her jokes and infectious smile.

As a child, Doss is described by her mother, Johnetta Doss, as curious and determined.

“She always wanted to know answers about everything, like why the clouds are this way, or, ‘why is the sun following me?’,” J. Doss said. “She just always had this determination. If she set out to do something, she was definitely going to do it, and do it at her best ability. She was very fun starting off young. She just had this smile that would brighten up the whole room. She was just full of joy, she was always fun to be around. Even if you were sad, she knew what to say, even as a kid, to make you smile and laugh. She was a joy to be around as a kid.”

Doss remembers her daughter as encouraging, as someone who always had a kind word to say.

“The first thing that comes to my mind [when I think of Carieal] is how encouraging she was. She had a way with words; she had a way to make you feel,” J. Doss said. “What comes to mind more than anything is the love that she had, and the relationship that we shared. When I was going through the police academy and I was coming home saying, ‘I don’t know if I can do this, this is a lot for me,’ she said, ‘mom, you went this far.’ She said, ‘You can make it. You can do it. You’re going to be okay. Just take a deep breath, and start all over again, and move forward.’ She just had a very encouraging heart.”

Doss’ mother also called her daughter selfless. When J. Doss began the adoption proccess for another child, she asked her daughter how she felt about it.

She had so much love to give; she had so much encouragement to give to people. So it made me happy that she had the type of heart that she had, to give to others.”

— Johnetta Doss

“She said, ‘You always help people, so keep helping people.’ I could see that in her, helping people. Even if it was just encouragement, or telling people that it is going to be alright and just making jokes and laughing. She just had a way of making people feel like people, like they were somebody. Even if they had the world telling them that they weren’t, she had a way of making people feel like they belonged in this world somewhere. She loved people,” J. Doss said. “She really left a mark in a lot of people’s lives, not just my life. She touched a lot of people, and that made me happy to know that I wasn’t the only one that she shared that love with, she had so much love to give; she had so much encouragement to give to people. So it made me happy that she had the type of heart that she had, to give to others.”

Doss’ impact was seen in her friendships with students, like senior Tywan Simms. Simms met Doss at McKelvey Elementary school, and remembered her as the fastest girl at their school. Simms moved schools, but their paths crossed again multiple times before Doss moved to West, where they rekindled their friendship. 

“I learned that from her situation, life is too short,” Simms said. “Her passing really affected a lot of people. It really affected me as well, because I had known her for a minute. Everybody that knew her, they know. They know who Carieal was. You can’t take life for granted. You only get one life.”

After Doss’ transfer to West, she met senior Ashley “Lele” Smith.

“L and I had a great relationship. We had a lot in common and we clicked from the start. She never failed to put a smile on my

Carieal “L” Doss as a child.(Courtesy of Johnetta Doss)

face. Especially back in October when my grandma, the woman who raised me, passed. That was a really hard time for me, so she made sure I smiled or laughed at least once everyday. That meant everything to me,” Smith said. “The thing I admired most about her was her confidence. She took pride in everything she did or said with no second thought. She had a lot of respect and understanding of others. She cared for her people wholeheartedly, and she showed her love and support in numerous ways. We always had a good time together. She had a great character and I really liked that.”

Math teacher Deborah McNeal taught Doss Trigonometry and Statistics. She had the difficult job of communicating Doss’ passing to the student body and administration. 

“She smiled often. I remember that infectious smile of hers,” McNeal said. “We bonded being of the same race. She loved Girls’ and Women’s Basketball. I shared with her I had two daughters who attended Parkway West High School in 1998 and 1999, and they played Girls Basketball here. As she talked, I discovered great potential in Carieal.”

McNeal looked forward to following Doss’ dream of walking on to play basketball at Illinois State University.

“She loved the game of basketball truly,” McNeal said. “I like most that she was aiming high to make something of her life. Her passing is heavy on my heart. I would have loved to see her make the team as a Point Guard. We will never know.”

A tear comes to J. Doss’ eye as she explains the long list of things she learned from her time with her daughter. 

“She taught me how to be a better mother. She taught me how to love and forgive. She taught me that no matter what, I could make it. She taught me to be strong. Whatever it was that I wanted to do, [she taught me] to come through with it. She taught me so much. So much. She taught me how to have peace within myself, and she taught me how to help people,” J. Doss said. “That was one of the biggest things, accepting who I was. Not being judgemental, and understanding that everyone is [an] individual, so no one is going to be the same, but accepting them for who they are is the biggest joy and love you can give someone.”

This story was originally published on Pathfinder on May 21, 2020.