Bobbie Carney was a former newspaperwoman who worked as a secretary to ex-Congressman Don Clausen and rubbed elbows with some of the country’s leading Republicans before becoming a director of the American Cancer Society, then a youth advocate and trusty volunteer.
Carney, also a world traveler and for years a charming presence behind the counter at the Treasure House charitable consignment shop in downtown Santa Rosa, died Aug. 17 in a care home in San Clemente. She was 91.
“She had a great life,” said one of her two daughters, Ellen Woodward, formerly of San Clemente and now a resident of Santa Rosa. “Travel and painting were definitely her things.”
A prolific artist, Carney had studied for years with late Santa Rosa Junior College art instructor Maurice Lapp. In retirement, she painted, visited Hawaii and other exotic locations and served as a member of the Sonoma County Juvenile Justice Commission.
Her eyesight failed in recent years, a harsh blow to a woman who loved to create art and cherished her independence and mobility. But longtime friend and fellow Treasure House volunteer Jeannine Park said Carney preferred always to look on the bright side.
“She did not complain,” said Park. “She was one of the most positive people I ever met. She always said to people, ‘How you doing, kiddo?’ ”
She was born Bobette Parker in Los Angeles in 1922. She studied journalism in Los Angeles City College, then wrote for the former Los Angeles Examiner and the Desert Sun of Palm Springs as a fashion and life-of-the-town columnist.
Shortly after World War II, her taste for travel and adventure drew her to Hawaii for a vacation. Loving it, she returned to Honolulu and found work as a writer for an in-house publication of Hawaiian Telephone.
Soon, she fell in love with Robert Carney, a chief of Oahu’s PepsiCo bottling plant.
“They met on a blind date at a baseball game,” Woodward said. The couple married in 1949.
The Carneys left Hawaii for Portland, Ore., where Bobbie Carney wrote for shopper newspapers. In 1962, an opportunity for Bob Carney to take a job as a sales rep for a home appliance manufacturer brought the family to Santa Rosa.
Bobbie Carney obtained a desk job in the Republican Party headquarters, located at the time on Santa Rosa’s Exchange Avenue. That work introduced her to Don Clausen, a former Del Norte County Supervisor who served in Congress from 1963 to 1983.
Clausen hired her onto the staff of his Santa Rosa office. Woodward said that through the several years that her mother worked as a secretary for the congressman, she felt fortunate to attend the inauguration of Ronald Reagan as governor of California and to meet Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon.
Carney left government service in 1969 to become executive director of the Sonoma County chapter of the American Cancer Society. For the next 25 years, she served the organization in a number of regional positions.
Woodward said Carney deeply enjoyed working with board members, volunteers and also with people dealing with cancer.
In retirement, Carney was active in the Red Hat Society and she served more than once as president of the Treasure House, whose volunteers operate a consignment shop on Santa Rosa’s Wilson Street and donate the sales proceeds to nonprofits such as the YWCA, Redwood Gospel Mission and St. Vincent de Paul kitchen.