Caroline Anker Duhem, a longtime member of Strawberry Creek Meeting, died on May 31st, 2012. She became a member of our Meeting in 1991. She served in a pivotal role in the First Day school program and the Oversight committee. For many years she was the heart and soul of the Loaves and Fishes committee. Caroline was a dear and constant presence. She brought love and tenderness to our children in their First Day School activities.
Caroline was born in Albany, New York, May 16, 1942. She was the oldest of four children. She grew up in a country farmhouse, north of Albany, where her parents had flower and vegetable gardens along with a goat, chickens, cats and dogs.
She began her education in a three-room schoolhouse a short walk from home. She played in the woods and listened to stories on the radio with her siblings. The family spent summer vacations in the Adirondack Mountains, near Lake George, out in nature, camping, boating, swimming and hiking.
At age 21, with a year left in college, she married Hal Noakes, the son of her mother’s best friend Roama. A year later, Caroline received her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Russell Sage College. After Hal graduated from college, the young couple moved west to Utah. Caroline found work at the Medical Center on campus. When Caroline and Hal’s marriage ended, she moved farther west to San Francisco. After a short teaching job, she found work as a microbiologist at UCSF.
Caroline was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 39 years old. She had already met Roger Duhem at a singles gathering, and he would prove to be her greatest support during surgery and chemotherapy. Doctors told her she couldn’t have any children because it might cause her cancer to return. Roger nursed her back to health and a full recovery. Caroline and Roger were married under the care of the San Francisco Meeting in 1981.
They bought a home in El Cerrito and Caroline started a tradition of Christmas Day brunch at her house, inviting her extended family and friends. She would present delicious foods including bagels, lox & cream cheese, to honor her friends’ other traditions.
Caroline was a wonderful Aunt and also greatly enjoyed interactions with friends’ children. As an adult she continued to take summer vacations at Lake George and to visit with her mother, brothers and nephews.
Caroline loved education and went back to school to become a nurse while working computer programming jobs. She became an RN at age 55 and enjoyed the requirement to continue taking courses every year to keep her license current. She did foot care at the El Cerrito Senior Center and got to listen to many life stories while she worked.
She had a passion for driving. At age 61 she bought a new yellow standard shift Mini Cooper. She loved to drive up to the wine country with a friend or visiting family members when they were in town. When her mother died in 2004, Caroline used the money from the sale of her mother’s house to go back to school again. This time, she got a special certificate for teaching math, allowing her to tutor children, both privately and at elementary schools; also working with young adults who were trying to get their G.E.D.
After almost 30 years of being cancer free, Caroline was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer in August, 2010. It was then that she decided to take lessons on a Dulcimer which had been made for her in the 1960s. Playing the dulcimer brought her joy. She also loved to read and she collected many books, including treasured children’s stories and young adult literature.
Strawberry Creek Meeting held a memorial meeting for her on July 28, 2012.
Strawberry Friends will remember Caroline with appreciation for her warmth and for the many ways she served our Meeting community with tender care, especially our children.