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1946 Carolyn 2022

Carolyn J. Nelson

June 20, 1946 — July 17, 2022

It is with immense sadness and sorrow that I announce the passing of my beloved wife and Gwendolyn's cherished mother, Carolyn Joanne Nelson.  Carolyn was born to Mauritz L. and Virginia Louise Nelson nee Scheidecker on June 20, 1946 in Sebastopol, CA and passed away on July 17, 2022 at her home in Sacramento, CA.  Carolyn and her older sister, Linnea, grew up on their parent’s 26 acre ranch that was located southwest of Sebastopol.  She received her first horse, Toasty, at age 7, which was the first of several horses.  Eventually, Carolyn and the whole family became involved with horses including show and jumping. While Carolyn’s knowledge of horse and horsemanship increased with time, I do believe the afternoon rides in Western Sonoma County, with Toasty, taught Carolyn a lot about life.

Carolyn graduated from Analy High School in Sebastopol in 1964 and attended University of California at Davis where she received undergraduate degree in textile science in September 1968.  Her lab mates nicknamed her “Klepto Carolyn” because she would pick flowers along her way from home to the lab.  During her undergraduate time, she spent a year in Tokyo, Japan under the Study Abroad Program. 

 Carolyn then enrolled Graduate School where she received her Master’s Degree in Agricultural Chemistry in December 1972.  She and Robert A. Roeske were married in June 1970 and they settled in East Davis.  Gwendolyn L. Roeske, their only child, was born in 1971.  Carolyn began working in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at UC Davis, during the early 1970s, first doing a special project in the Pesticide Residue Laboratory and then with Dr. James N. Seiber, running the natural products segment of the Lab Group. She became an expert in the area of Monarch butterflies and their relationship with milkweed, focusing in on the uptake of the cardiac glycosides by the butterflies from the milkweed.  She became a liaison between Dr. Seiber’s Group and Dr. Lincoln Brower’s Group in collaborative research on Monarch Butterflies.  She held this position from 1973 until 1981.

Carolyn and Bob divorced in 1979 and, two years later, Carolyn and Gwendolyn moved to Sydney, Australia where Carolyn pursued a Ph D in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Sydney.  After obtaining her Ph D, Carolyn worked for St Vincent’s Hospital plus two other hospitals.

Carolyn became an Australian citizen, which meant that she held a dual citizenship status between Australia and The United States.  She joined a dive club called the Shrimps and also discovered second hand stores.  She immersed herself in Australian culture and bought a house in Haberfield, a suburb of Sydney.   She made lifelong lasting relationships. She enjoyed being out on a sailboat in Sydney Harbor, with her friends, on a Sunday afternoon.

Carolyn returned to the United States in 1999 and in January 2002, she received a two line letter, from me, indicating that I would like to have dinner with her.  That dinner turned into 20 years of gardening, photography, travel and woodworking. 

While driving to work one day she noticed a lump in her right breast.  That was the start of a 25 plus year battle with breast cancer.  It was this battle that would take the toll on her and make her come back to the United States in 1999.  In 2001, Carolyn underwent a Mastectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy.  With the aid of certain cancer drugs, Carolyn’s cancer remained under control until 2016.  At that time, the cancer had metastasized and had spread in her body.  During 2016 and 2017, Carolyn underwent another round of intense chemotherapy, which appeared to arrest much of the cancer. In October 2021, signs of the reappearance of cancer while we were on a trip to Northeastern California and were further pronounced during our December 2021 trip to Arizona.

Carolyn has never complained regarding her cancer outcome and I can not believe the resilience, grace and dignity that Carolyn has shown over the last 25 plus years in fighting this disease. 

Carolyn was preceded in death by her parents Mauritz L. and Virginia Louise Nelson and survived by her first husband, Robert A. Roeske of Blythe, CA, her daughter Gwendolyn L Roeske of Sacramento, CA, her sister, Linnea Hall of New Meadows/Boise ID and her current husband Michael M McChesney of Sacramento, CA .

At her request, there will be no services.

My Dear, may you rest in peace and remember, you were/are/and will always be my Sebastopol girl.

"My beloved mother you are my best friend teaching me and guiding me through out my life. You have inspired me and will continue to do so." From your loving daughter Gwendolyn

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