Carol Lee: 1953-2022


On a sunny Saturday afternoon as she visited with a friend in the sunroom at Eureka’s Hospice, Carol said, “I’ve had a good life!”  She died Tuesday morning, Feb. 8, 2022, of ovarian cancer peacefully with Jody and Vickie Victorine by her side.

Carol was born on June 2, 1953, in Eureka to Glen and Evelyn Lee of Ferndale. She grew up in the hills above Ferndale, exploring the forests and creeks with her siblings and many cousins. She loved to sit under the willow tree beside the house to read about far-off places she hoped to see someday. Carol’s father built a special room for her out in the family’s garage so she could read and no one would bother her.  When airplanes flew overhead, she dreamed of traveling to faraway places. As a small child, she showed an early penchant for reading. When her father finished reading his newspaper, Carol would pick it up carefully, fold it just so, and then proceed to read it. Her Aunt Margie often commented, “That Carol is one smart cookie!”

Carol’s formal education began at Ferndale Elementary School and continued at Ferndale High School.  At Ferndale High, one of Carol’s tasks was to help the high school counselor.  One day, she noticed that a pamphlet from Pepperdine University had been tossed in the wastebasket.  She retrieved it, read it, and decided she was the type of student they were looking for. She applied for entrance.

After graduation from Ferndale High in 1971, Carol found herself in Southern California as a Pepperdine co-ed. A highlight of life there was her appearance on the game show Card Sharks. She won $10,000 which certainly helped with tuition. Carol also appeared on Jeopardy during her college days. She graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude degree.  She then began the study of law at University of Southern California Law School.  She received her Juris Doctorate in 1980 and passed the Bar Exam on her first try.  In 1982, she earned a Master’s Degree from Humboldt State University.

It was then that her childhood dreams of traveling came true. She accepted a job with the small Pacific nation of Saipan as the legal counsel to its House of Representatives. She was instrumental in developing the island nation’s constitution. While there, she and a group hired a guide to travel to China. Unfortunately, a few days after they arrived, the guide was unable to continue. As all arrangements for the trip had been made and paid, the group, with the guide’s input, decided Carol, the youngest member of the group, should become their leader. She agreed. The trip was a success. Another memorable journey was to the Pacific Island of Guam. Several years later, she had her European experience living in Heidelberg, Germany. Carol loved to travel the world revisiting her favorite countries with her mother. With the travel bug at least partially satisfied, Carol returned to California to accept a position working as a lobbyist in the state capital. She was very proud that her lobbying efforts led to California’s passage of the mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists and their passengers. She also met with national leaders, including several presidents in Washington, D.C., to advise them on issues important to Californians. Carol's final position was as president and CEO of the California Medical Association headquartered in Sacramento. She spent 20 years in that position.

Her heart was never far from her real home up Williams Creek in Ferndale. When she was working, she would come home to her cabin every chance she got. On these visits home, she would host family reunions. The aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews plus many others would gather to roast hot dogs and to roast S’mores at Carol’s cabin. She enjoyed taking all the young kids to “root beer” pond to cool off on hot summer days. She loved her family very much. She was quick to lend a hand when someone needed it.

Upon her retirement, Carol returned to Ferndale. She designed a beautiful two-story log house and had it built on the site where her family had lived for many years. Her favorite flowers, daffodils and rhododendrons, dotted the nearby hillsides. Her goal to plant 300 daffodils bulbs every year was accomplished. The old fruit trees blossomed among them as did wildflowers. For entertainment, Carol drove her mother and Aunt Margie to the nearby Bear River Casino. They’d enjoy dinner as well as test to see if their usual luck would hold. Carol’s luck did hold as she won a car and a 4 x 4 Gator as well as generous slot machine pay-outs.

To keep her mind active, Carol served two terms on the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury. Her commitment to the betterment of the Ferndale community was shown by her board membership on the Salt River Watershed Council. With her legal background, she was a very valuable member of both groups. Carol planned to live a long and happy life up Williams Creek Road, but it was not to be. She left these messages to her family and friends:

I hate to leave you all behind, but we’ll meet again one day.
 – Carol’s final message

Life’s race well run, Life’s work well done. Life’s victory won, Now cometh rest. 
 – Edward Parker

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.  
 – Margaret Mead.

Carol was preceded in death by her father Glen Lee, her brother Ronnie Lee and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.Among those surviving her are her loving mother, Evelyn Lee; her sister Cindi Ambrosini and her husband Richard; nieces and nephews Toby Ambrosini, Mandy Dowden and husband Greg, Tyler Ambrosini, Lorilee Ambrosini and Michael Sandford; her great nieces and nephews Abigal Ambrosini, Macy Gomes, Nicholas Gomes and Mylah Ambrosini. Her faithful canine companion “A Dog Named Sue” brought her much love, companionship, and happiness.

Pall bearers will be Tyler Ambrosini, Rocky Crowl, Nicholas Gomes, Jose Ibarra, Robert Wilson, and Steve Wilson. Honorary pallbearers are Toby Ambrosini, Hazen Crowl, and Jody Victorine.

Carol was especially thankful to her amazing cancer support group who helped her through difficult times.

The family would like to thank the following for their friendship and help during Carol’s illness: Gary Crowl, Rocky Crowl, Steve Wilson, Annie Martin, Shirley Foster, Tracy and Jose Ibarra, John Vernon, Vickie, Jody and Brittney Victorine, Elva Daily and her many doctors and nurses at Redwood Memorial Hospital, Providence St. Joseph Hospital, Stanford University Hospital, and Hospice of Humboldt. A special thanks goes to her little friend Alison Dayton for playing Barbie Dolls, silly games and baking cupcakes with Carol when she needed it the most!

There will be a viewing on Thursday, February 17, 2022, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Goble’s Mortuary in Fortuna. The graveside services will be on Friday, February 18, 2022, at 2 P.M. at the Ferndale Cemetery. 

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