Carol Shirley Gavce

March 13, 1926 ~ March 23, 2022 (age 96)


            Carol Shirley Johnson Gavce was born March 13, 1926 in San Jose, CA to Neil Johnson and Pearl Gimre Johnson, both of Norwegian ancestry. The older sister of Donald, Carol was raised in San Jose and attended San Jose State University, where she was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and was on the Homecoming Court. During college, Carol modeled and did pageants, and she was a gifted artist and talented ice skater.

            After graduating from SJSU, she became a pioneer in world travel working for Pan American Airlines and opening the first of their bases in Asia. Carol lived an exciting six years in Japan before moving back to California, where she continued her passion for travel working in a San Francisco travel agency. It was while arranging for a trip to Russia for a couple of doctors that she met Dr. Jerry Gavce. Taken by her exceptional beauty, intelligence and charming personality, Jerry soon proposed, and they married in November 1960.

            After moving to Orinda, they welcomed their son William in 1961 and their daughter Karen in 1962. In 1966, the Gavce family moved to Lafayette, CA where Carol resided the next 56 years. Carol took great joy in raising her young children with fun and fascinating stories and stimulating their imaginations with tales of “Mr. Owl,” tooth fairies with fantastical names, and magical gnomes and elves who wrote long notes on scrolls hung in surprising places.

            After Bill and Karen went off to college at University of Oregon in 1979 and 1980, Carol often took car trips with Jerry, or on her own, to visit them and to see family in Astoria, Oregon. It was in Astoria where Carol spent many summers in her youth visiting her Aunt Ruby, Grandparents Josephine and Peder Gimre, and learning about the Norwegian heritage she cherished, while staying in the home her grandfather built overlooking the Columbia River.

            In the 1990s, Carol spent a great deal of her time with her four grandchildren, often taking them to the park, the zoo and the library to read stories. She and Jerry, who had retired in 1989, took many trips abroad. On some of those trips they visited Bill and Karen living in England, and Karen living in Japan. At home they were often entertaining friends and family, with Carol always the most gracious hostess and life of the party. Jerry and Carol also spent much of their time hiking the Lafayette reservoir area, especially after Jerry retired.

            Carol was not only outwardly beautiful -- she also had such a good nature, always accentuating the positive and never complaining. She was a music lover all her life, an avid Frank Sinatra fan, a huge movie buff (there was hardly a good movie she had not seen and she knew nearly all of the actors and actresses of every era), and she would often stay up late at night reading (often multiple books simultaneously). She enjoyed cooking and had quite a sweet tooth, particularly for Loards ice cream and chocolate. A bowl of popcorn was frequently in her lap as she watched her favorite films and TV shows. She was keenly interested in world events and stayed current with the news in print and on television. She was a sky watcher, fascinated by astronomy and clouds, watching planes take off and land; a nature lover and not afraid to be known as a people watcher.

            As she became older, she dedicated much of her time to her family, which was her greatest joy.  She was blessed to live the last two decades of her life with Karen and Andy.  Bill rarely missed a goodnight call to his Mom each night, and Grandma saw and spoke to the grandchildren almost daily. She was an animal lover, cherishing the family dogs and cats, and they all loved her.

            Carol was always a great friend not only to those in her family but to all -- a deep but playful conversationalist, blessed with an incredible memory which she loved to share, much to the happiness of all those around her. She always went with the flow, and all that knew her cherished her sweetness and gentleness. She will be so missed.

            Carol passed away peacefully at home on March 23, 2022 at the age of 96, surrounded by loving family. She was comforted  greatly in the last days of her life to spend time with those closest to her, talking about the past, telling her how much they loved her, and how grateful they were to have had her in their lives. We are consoled that she and her beloved Jerry, who passed in 2012, are reunited. She is survived by her son William, daughter Karen, daughter-in-law Francesca, son-in-law Andrew, and four grandchildren Madeline, Kyle, Marie and Eden, in addition to five step-grandchildren Jesse, Henry, Maritza, Adrian and Alison.

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