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Local News

Carolyn Ruddell Samuels, 1942-2008

The lifelong volunteer and world traveler is remembered by friends and family as regal, elegant and intelligent.

Carolyn Ruddell Samuels died suddenly and tragically on Saturday of injuries sustained after being struck by a drunken driver while running with a training group.

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Carolyn Ruddell Samuels (Samuels family photo)
Samuels is survived by her children: Jane Samuels of Portland, Ore., Jeff Samuels of Girdwood, Alaska, and Jill Allen and grandchildren Sophie, Molly and Lucy Allen of St. Louis, Mo. She is also survived by a half-brother, David Ruddell of Las Vegas, Nev. Her parents were Hazel Gruver Ruddell and David Ruddell, both deceased.

She was born May 22, 1942, at Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto. After marrying Robert Samuels in 1960, they made their home in Woodside. While her children were still young, she graduated with an associate of arts degree from Canada College in Redwood City before transferring to Stanford University to complete a bachelor of arts degree in art history, graduating in 1983. She later completed a master of arts degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.

Samuels was a lifelong volunteer. As a mother, she devoted her time to raising her children and found time to volunteer with the Children’s Health Council of Palo Alto. She continued to volunteer with the organization throughout her life, most recently as Auxiliary president from 2004-05.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Samuels worked for Language Pacifica in Menlo Park as a teacher of English as a second language. At the time of her death, she was a docent at the Santa Barbara Courthouse, cared for the Marilyn Monroe roses at the Santa Barbara Mission and eagerly anticipated volunteering for Americorps, a national work-service organization, where she was to be working with children developing their reading skills.

She was always health conscious and enjoyed running and swimming several times a week. In 1993, she signed up with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training to train for her first marathon, at age 51. Since that time, she completed more than a dozen marathons and many half-marathons, raising thousands of dollars for leukemia research and patient support through the donations and sponsorships she received. On Saturday, at the time of the incident, she was doing what she loved: training with a group of about 35 other runners for the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco next month.

Her favorite hobby was traveling to foreign countries. She usually made at least one lengthy trip abroad every year. She and her dear friend Betsy Denison created a business, Caravan. They purchased textiles and fabrics from small local cooperatives in developing countries such as Peru, Ecuador and Laos. They brought the fabrics home and created clothing, selling the clothing at small shows to fund their next adventure and to purchase supplies to bring back to the artists with whom they partnered. Through this business partnership and friendship, Samuels traveled to many off-the-beaten-path destinations around the world, such as Burma, Iceland, Nepal, Jerusalem and Africa.

Samuels was often described by family and friends as a regal, elegant and intelligent woman who showed true compassion and honesty in the actions of her life. She will be greatly missed by her family and the broad network of friends whose lives she touched.

A memorial service in her honor will be held at All Saints By-The-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito at 11 a.m. Saturday. It will be followed by another memorial service later this month at Christ Church in Portola Valley.

The family requests that any donations in her honor be made to one of the two organizations that she felt most strongly about: the Children’s Health Council of Palo Alto or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America.

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