Published: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 6:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 6:02 p.m.
Carol Delaney’s breast cancer diagnosis, a week before Thanksgiving 12 years ago, devastated her family but did nothing to dim her positive attitude or engaging manner.
“She pulled us all through it,” said her daughter, Shannen Dettmann of San Francisco. “She just kept moving forward.”
Delaney’s cancer spread to her bones, and she died in her sleep at her Occidental home on Dec. 20, two days after her 70th birthday.
Told that her hair would probably fall out as a result of chemotherapy, Delaney shrugged off the prospect, saying her hair would probably grow back curly, the style she had always wanted.
And so it did, Dettmann said.
In her illness Delaney remained just as she had been in health, a caring, good-natured person who expressed more interest in others than in her own condition.
“She had this aura about her,” Dettmann said. “People were drawn to her.”
Marylu Downing, an Occidental area artist, said her longtime friend and former neighbor was “a lovely person ... with a sense of humor and a great love for cooking and for her friends and family.”
Delaney worked as a part-time instructor in Santa Rosa Junior College’s work experience program and helped Downing get a job in the same department.
“She inspired me to look for the daily good in life,” Downing said, recalling her friend’s prowess as a shopper who found bargain clothing and loaned her wardrobe to friends.
“She was the go-to fashionista,” Downing said, recalling that just a few months ago the two went for a long walk at the coast.
“I miss her a lot already,” Downing said.
Born in San Francisco in 1942, Delaney grew up in Redwood City, graduating from Sequoia High School in 1960. At Foothill Junior College she was vice president of her sophomore class and a pompom girl, graduating in 1962.
Delaney earned a degree in education at University of Colorado in Boulder and taught at an elementary school in the Watts area of Los Angeles for two years, then moved to Hillsborough Elementary School in San Mateo County.
In the summer of 1967, Delaney met her future husband, Jay, when both were with friends at Stinson Beach in Marin County. Later, at a bar in Sausalito, Jay got Carol’s phone number and they were married the following year, also in Sausalito.
A few years later, the couple traveled for a year through Europe and North Africa, mostly camping in a Volkswagen van.
Returning to California, they settled first in Santa Rosa and began building a house in Occidental, where they raised two daughters and Delaney served on the PTA at the old Harmony School.
Delaney, who taught her daughters to cook, developed one prized recipe from a pasta dish she enjoyed at a restaurant. It won first prize in a local competition and the recipe for penne pasta with sausage and goat cheese became a family favorite.
Jay Delaney continues to operate the couple’s business, Wine Country Experience, a bike, van and hiking tour company in Sonoma County.
In addition to her daughter and husband, Delaney is survived by her other daughter, Tara Jasper of Forestville, and three grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Occidental Center for the Arts, which was formerly her children’s school.
Memorial donations may be made to the Occidental Center for the Arts or Santa Rosa Junior College.
— Guy Kovner
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