Caroline Ragsdale Reutter, 66, got her start baking cakes out of the basement of her Hillsmere home. The idea for her business came from her son’s 1982 christening luncheon, where her first caramel cake was served to those in attendance. She started out selling a few cakes to community members, growing into a business that shipped cakes and other treats worldwide.
Reutter succumbed to ovarian cancer after a valiant battle. Her family was at her bedside at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston when she died on July 15.
In 2012, Reutter decided to return to her roots in South Carolina and moved Caroline’s Cakes to a more accommodating space near the Bay Bridge. The business remained open until May. Her two sons, Charles and Richard, operate the Caroline’s Cakes at 925 Beaumont Avenue in Spartanburg.
Reutter spent several hours preparing her famous caramel cake, which she personally made for friends, before selling them at the Anne Arundel County Farmer’s Market.
From the Hillsmere home, the business was moved to Wild Rose Shores, where the family built a new home with a commercial kitchen.
Her husband of 43 years, Charles “Chick” Reutter, said in an interview that people would pick their cakes up at the house and put the money in a “red cake tin,” which was used for nearly 18 years.
In 2000, the Palm Beach financial services company contacted Reutter and asked her if she could supply them with 2,000 cakes. At the time, she was only making about eight cakes a day, but she never turned down a challenge, her husband said.
In the past few years, the business was shipping over 50,000 cakes, including coconut, lemon, carrot, blueberry-lemon and chocolate.
Reutter made an appearance on 20/20 and the Today Show and was friends with Sidney Poitier, Oprah and Julia Louis Dreyfuss.
Lidia Rodriquez and her husband took over the Caroline’s Gourmet Take It Away shop in Annapolis. She had worked at the shop for nearly five years, before taking it over.
Caroline Ragsdale Reutter was raised in Lake City, South Carolina. She and Charles married in May 1974 and moved to Annapolis in 1977.
A service is scheduled for July 29 at the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Spartanburg.