Lorna Wunderman Monroe of Monterey, gifted teacher, avid athlete, fierce friend, world traveler, loving mother, grandmother and wife, died Sunday, September 27th, after a year-long battle with breast cancer. She was 66 years old. Her keen intellect, unassuming manner, perpetual energy and uproarious laugh will forever inspire and be remembered by all in her wide circle of family and friends.
Lorna grew up in Mountain View in an adventurous family that lived in a historic home that was once a bordello and speakeasy during Prohibition. Her father, the engineer, inventor and author Irwin Wunderman, was an early Silicon Valley pioneer; her mother, Gilda Wunderman, founded an international student cultural exchange organization. When Lorna and her two brothers were children, her parents took the family on a 7-month “vacation,” traveling through Europe and North Africa. She never lost the travel bug and eventually visited six of the world’s seven continents.
After graduating from the University of California Berkeley with degrees in biostatistics and public health, Lorna took a job at the American Medical Association in Chicago, where she met the love of her life, Ken Monroe. They married in 1987. Lorna loved Ken’s children, Heather and Jason, like they were her own and after the birth of their daughter, Katie, in 1990, Lorna became a full-time mom.
In 1999, the family relocated to Monterey to be closer to Lorna’s family in Mountain View. Lorna found her calling teaching math to students in Monterey Peninsula schools. She delighted in showing students how to embrace and effectively use math in everyday life. She became head of the Middle School Math Department at Santa Catalina School, where she spent the rest of her professional career.
Lorna gave generously of her time to all students and enriched the lives of hundreds. Her students regularly won top awards in regional math competitions, which she always prepared them for, and excitedly and proudly attended.
Small in stature, Lorna was a powerhouse athlete and tenacious competitor. On the tennis courts of Carmel Valley Ranch, her singles matches would produce hundred-shot rallies which she more often than not would win. She participated in runs and walks throughout Northern California and completed over 30 half marathons.
Despite her busy schedule, Lorna always found time for community service. An animal lover, Lorna helped support marine life on the Monterey Peninsula with contributed time and money. She held strong beliefs about local and national politics and was involved from the time she was a young girl, volunteering in campaigns in Mountain View. She was very active in the successful campaign for the Monterey County Board of Supervisors by her dear friend Mary Adams. A lifelong Democrat, Lorna participated in the Democratic Women of Monterey County, and joined a fact-finding mission to Cuba.
During her long illness, Lorna was grateful for the love and support from all those in her orbit. The family wants to give very special thanks to the students, faculty and administration of Catalina School; to her relentless oncologist, Dr. Arina Ganeles, and the medical team; and to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and its fine physicians and nurses, especially its palliative medicine professionals.
Lorna is survived by her husband Ken; daughter Katie Monroe Ahnen and husband Jacob; daughter Heather Monroe Lang and husband Trevor, children Treyton and Haiden; son Jason Monroe and wife Karla, children Grace, Madelyn, and Carter; mother Gilda Wunderman; brothers Rick Wunderman and wife Deborah, daughter Essi and Alan Wunderman, son Forrest, daughter Brandi Freas-Cusick; aunts Phyllis Penner and Rhoda Schild; Uncle Mark Wunderman; and an extended family of in-laws, nieces, nephews, and cousins in Ohio and California. Lorna will be so missed by family and many friends, colleagues, tennis teammates, running pals and students.
Lorna wished to have a celebration of her life event next fall in the hope that COVID is behind us and that her loved ones can all be together. Donations in her name may be made to the Marine Mammal Rescue Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or the Montage Health Carol Hatton Breast Cancer Center. The family would appreciate that any notes and personal comments be shared on the Paul Mortuary’s website: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/.