July 7, 2006
Carole Lynn Koda died after a long illness at her home
on San Juan Ridge on June 29th. She was born October 3, 1947 in Merced,
California. Her parents were William Koda and Jean Morimoto of Dos Palos.
She was in the third generation of a successful Japanese-American family
noted for its high quality agricultural production, particularly rice.
William Koda graduated from the U.C. College of Agriculture, now UC Davis,
She attended grade school in South Dos Palos, the home
base of the Koda Farms, and she and her older sister Mary Anne attended high
school at Dos Palos Joint Union. Her father died in 1961.
She attended Stanford, majoring in psychology and
graduating in 1968. For much of 1969 she travelled in Japan. Soon after her
return to California she married Dennis Steffensen of Fresno. The two of
them worked as primary school teachers in Livingston for several years.
Carole then joined in the Livingston Community
Clinic, initially writing grants and doing
administration. She entered the UC Davis Medical School Certification
Program for Physicians Assistants, and became a P.A. at the Clinic. At the
same time she was managing a working almond orchard. She regularly hiked and
climbed in the Sierra Nevada and was an early woman rock climber in
Yosemite. At one time she walked the entire John Muir trail.
Her daughter Mika was born in 1978, and a second
daughter, Kyung-jin Robin, was adopted from South Korea in 1985. In 1986 her
first marriage ended. In April of 1991 she married Gary Snyder of San Juan
Ridge. She soon became active in Nevada County community and environmental
affairs. She researched, wrote, and published
a history of her large extended family titled Homegrown
“Thirteen Brothers and Sisters, A Century in America”. She was also noted
for essay “Dancing in the Borderlands.” Carole was a fine naturalist and
expert birder. For a while she was licensed to do mist-netting and release
of migratory songbirds, putting their information into the western
She and her husband traveled together to Japan, Taiwan,
Alaska, Nepal and the Mt. Everest region; France (where they studied cave
art), and Italy over the years. She trekked to Base Camp of Sagarmatha (Mt.
Everest) and kayaked with her husband the length of Muir Inlet in Alaska.
She was diagnosed with a rare cancer in late 1991 and
went through six surgeries and a variety of treatment. She outlived her
doctors predictions by almost ten years. All who knew her, loved and admired
her boldness, humor, fortitude, insight, and transcendently selfless
spirit... She was a follower of Buddhism, both of the Pure
Land and the Zen schools. She studied for several years
with orthodox Zen teachers. During the last years of her life she turned her
creative energy to quilt-making, knitting for children, sketching and
Carole Koda is survived by her Mother Jean Koda of
Turlock, her sister Mary Anne Kimble of San Francisco (Dean of the School of
Pharmacy at U.C. San Francisco); her daughters Mika Reynolds of Portland,
Maine, Robin Koda-Steffensen of Grass Valley, and husband Gary Snyder. Such
a hugely sweet and big-hearted person.
We all loved her dearly.
A private Memorial Service will be held in August.
Donations in her memory may be made to the North
Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center.
Arrangements in care of Chapel of
the Angels Mortuary Grass Valley, CA, 273-2446