Obituary for Carolyn Olinger
Carolyn Florinda Medina was born January 17,1948 in San Diego,
California to Carl and Clotilda Medina. She grew up in Point Loma with all
of her Portuguese family. Her Portuguese family and heritage was very
special to Carolyn. She learned to cook Portuguese dishes with her mom
and could understand most of the language although her parents never
taught her how to speak it. Carolyn was the Queen of the Portuguese
Festa annual celebration when she was 14 years old which was a great
honor for her. She made sure to carry on the Festa traditions having her
own children later in life be a part of it and then passed the honor on to her
grandchildren for the last 10 years.
Many of her cousins have special childhood memories of Carolyn. They
remember how Carolyn always knew the latest dance moves and would
teach them how to do the locomotion, the stroll, and mashed potato just to
name a few. Dancing was one of Carolyn’s favorite things to do and she
danced anytime she could. They also remember her showing them how to
style their hair. Carolyn loved to style hair and went to school to become a
beautician. She also had an extraordinary talent for making many beautiful
wedding and birthday cakes for family. She never said no to anything or
anyone. Another love of Carolyn’s was her 66 red mustang with black
leather interior. She washed and waxed her car every weekend and took
immaculate care of it. Janene remembers riding in her mustang to high
school football games together to watch Carolyn’s brother Carl play
Carolyn met the love her life, Frank Olinger, in high school in 1965. When
Frank first met Carolyn he couldn’t help but notice her contagious smile and
a happiness that beamed bright. On their first date Frank and Carolyn went
to a theater to see one of her favorite movies “The Sound of Music”. When
Frank would come to see her while they were dating, Carolyn’s father
would answer the door and then immediately slam it shut. Haha. Even
though Frank did not receive a warm welcome he continued to court
Carolyn until the day she accepted his hand in marriage. Frank and
Carolyn were married on December 23, 1967.
Frank and Carolyn had 3 children: Heidi, Gretel, and Sam. Carolyn above
all else loved her family. She loved her children and never once asked for
anything in return. Some of their treasured memories as a family were
baking cakes with their mom getting to eat the frosting, camping
adventures like their tent surrounded by bears or getting rained out or
Frank lighting himself on fire, hiking all over, family game night, and
everything that fell in between. She had a way of making anything fun. She
supported each of their children through the difficult times in life and
celebrated all of their successes. She loved each of them the same but
each of them felt like the favorite. Carolyn taught her children to be honest,
treat others they way you want to be treated, and the value of family.
Although she was as sweet as could be she was no pushover. Her son,
Sam, remembers a day as a teenager when he decided to playfully start
poking her and continue poking her even after she warned him to stop.
Once she had enough she gingerly did a leg sweep on her precious little
son, haha, and took him to the ground. He found himself staring up at her
when she then calmly said, “I told you not to poke me”.
Carolyn was a beautiful person. She touched the hearts of all whom she
met and gave her love freely. Her infectious energy, positive spirit, and
unending kindness made a lasting impression on all her family and friends.
She opened her heart and home to all. Even her daughter Gretel’s dog
would run away from his own home to go to grandma’s house. She would
often find him sitting on the front porch waiting for her to get home.
One of her most favorite things was hosting family gatherings. From
birthday celebrations with her delicious and creative cakes, to Easter
brunch and egg hunts for the grandkids, to Thanksgiving and Christmas
dinners. Nothing made her happier than having all those she loved having
fun and laughing together. Even the infamous Thanksgiving when she
accidentally set the oven on fire and 911 was called, she was determined
that Thanksgiving must go on. Even trying to put out the fire herself and
saying “everything is fine”.
Carolyn also had fun times with friends and cousins too. Patti remembers
going to Christmas Parades, playing pool, and having a few drinks. Haha.
Carolyn met her lifetime best friend, Vicki Gomez, at Kempton Elementary,
her children’s school, where she worked as a teacher’s aid. Vicki and
Carolyn became friends right away. They enjoyed many special times
getting together often just for fun at Vicki’s home in Spring Valley and
making a tradition of celebrating 4th of July and St. Patrick’s Day. Vicki’s
husband, Al Gomez, was soon discovered to be a childhood friend of
Carolyn’s brother Carl. Al remembers Carolyn as a little girl always trying
to play with him and Carl.
Carolyn also worked in special education as a teacher’s aid and then as a
Quality Assurance/Assistant Administrator in skilled nursing facilities. Her
career in helping children and the elderly was important to her. She always
used to tell of the story how she got her special needs children to line up
after recess time. When she first arrived she would have to chase down
each child and bring them to the line but one day she had the idea to give
them popcorn each time they would line up on their own. Ever since that
day she would come out to a perfectly lined up class. Working in the skilled
nursing facility was more to her then managing the office and records.
Carolyn gave her love, time, and showed kindness to all of the residents.
She was very popular with the residents and as with everyone she knew
she made their life more special. She was devoted to the residents care
and happiness and is the reason she worked long and hard hours to
ensure they were being taken care of. She also made many good friends
who loved her and supported her. A few co-workers describe her as their
mentor, “little buddy”, and was like a mom to them.
Carolyn was blessed with 5 grandchildren: Courtney, Isaiah, and Leilani
Olinger, Gabriel Parks, and Tiffany Cortel. When her grandchildren came
Carolyn was over the moon. And with the marriage of Sam and Christina
she gained 2 more beautiful grandchildren, Zane and Tyler Langer. Her
time spent with her grandchildren are some of her most precious memories
of all. They enjoyed many sleepovers at grandma’s house and went on
more adventures than you can count. Recently, her daughter Gretel was
talking with her mom about their adventures and had been looking in the
100 Things to do in San Diego magazine and realized that they had gone
on almost every adventure in the magazine and more with all of the
grandkids. You couldn’t have asked for a sweeter, more energetic, fun
loving grandma. As with her own children, she made fun out of everything.
One special memory was New Year’s Eve at grandma’s. She would set up
a treat bag for every hour until midnight and they would celebrate and have
fun each hour that passed. There were no rules at grandma’s just fun and
Even though Carolyn faced many challenges and difficulties in her battle
with cancer she always had a smile on her face and a laugh to go with it.
Even when she couldn’t walk as well as before she still wanted to get out of
the house and go. There was nothing that could stop her from having fun
with her family.
Today the world lost an “angel”. The positive impact she made on all those
she knew will be remembered forever. You could never forget a woman
like Carolyn. A heart of gold and a zest for life that was unmatchable.
There wasn’t a day that went by that she did not take the time to enjoy
every moment of it. So please take with you today all of your memories of
Carolyn and enjoy every moment of life.