Carolyn Woodruff Steinmetz passed away just shy of her 76th birthday from complications from Alzheimer’s. She lived a jubilant life on her own terms, ignoring many traditional conventions while prioritizing an educational path and professional career that broke gender barriers.
She relished hiking outdoors, European travel and museums, running in the Examiner Bay to Breakers (and other charity fun runs), good restaurant meals (a magnet on her refrigerator reminded everyone of her motto: “A princess never cooks”), and deep laughs with her many friends from hiking groups, book clubs, and other activities of her engaged life.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, she was a graduate of Hughes High (magnet school) in Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati. She continued her education as one of two female students in the graduate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), receiving a Master’s degree in physiological chemistry before marrying former husband William Janney Steinmetz in 1966 and moving to California. She was passionate about the Bay Area at first sight, marveling at the blooming oleanders on the freeway meridians, the golden hills interspersed with poppies, and the glorious sunlight, which drew her outside at every occasion possible.
A resident of the Los Altos area from 1967-2014, she was an active Los Altos Art Docent, Girl Scout Troop leader, National Charity League member, tennis player, and Sierra Club trip leader specializing in backpacking in the High Sierras and cross-country skiing in Austria. She loved the Bay Area, and cherished memories of drying slab apricots, walking the Stanford Dish trails on ‘Cow Hill’ before they were paved, and meeting with Mrs. J. Gilbert Smith at the property that later became the Los Altos History House.
She left her initial biochemistry position at Syntex to devote herself to raising and providing opportunities for her two daughters. However, after 15 years of family life and work in the volunteer sector, she restarted her business career when she co-founded and co-taught the College Admission Testing: Math SAT test preparation course at Los Altos High School. She then returned to the workforce full-time at local audiovisual start-up Mirus. A second career in the biotech field followed, ultimately spanning two decades, with positions in clinical trial management at Syva (Siemens), Dade Behring (Siemens), and LifeScan (Johnson & Johnson).
Following retirement in 2008, she was especially proud to have completed the docent training at Filoli in Woodside. After a 70th birthday bash in Los Altos and a celebratory trip to the Statue of Liberty, she moved to Moldaw Family Residences in Palo Alto, and then closer to family in upstate NY. She is survived by her two daughters, Heidi Steinmetz Lovette of Ithaca, NY and Ashley Steinmetz Belanger of Newburyport, MA; sister Linda Palmer of Liverpool, NY/Lakeland, FL; brother Reverend Lawrence Woodruff of Ypsilanti, MI; two nieces, three nephews, and three grandchildren – Jamie (18), Delaney (10), and Shane (7) - whom she loved deeply and enjoyed visiting prior to her illness.
In lieu of flowers or donations, the family welcomes those who knew Carolyn to share memories and photos at the memorial website: http://tinyurl.com/csteinmetz