Carolyn Mae Welch Grimditch
On Thursday, May 7, 2020, Carolyn Welch Grimditch passed away peacefully in Vero Beach, Florida, at the age of 97.
She was born in San Francisco on Sept. 11, 1922, the youngest of three girls of Violet M. Oberton and Walter H. Welch. This “little brown-eyed girl,” as her father referred to her, grew up mostly in the San Francisco Bay area but also enjoyed summers with sisters and cousins at cabins built by her father and grandfather in Twin Bridges, El Dorado County, California. Carolyn’s life personified that of an artist and an athlete.
Through the decades her natural eye for design and movement expressed itself in a myriad of ways — figure skating, sewing, decoupage and interior design. Figure skating, with its inherent blend of artistry and athleticism, caught Carolyn’s eye as a young teenager and became the driving force in her life. Representing the St. Moritz Ice Skating Club of Oakland, California, Carolyn Welch became the Pacific Coast Ladies Singles Champion.
While supporting herself through mechanical drawing and dental assistant work, she continued to train hard. Under the guidance and inspiration of Maribel Vinson Owen (nine times U.S. ladies national champion) and Guy Owen (Canadian champion), Carolyn won a bronze medal in the 1947 U.S. National Pairs Competition with Charles “Lefty” Brinkman.
In the late 1940s, Carolyn’s amateur career ended, and she became a figure skating teaching professional at the prestigious Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society arena. While creating and performing ice skating shows and helping students of all levels develop their abilities, she met her future husband William H. Grimditch Jr. (formerly the 1940 U.S. national novice men’s singles champion and 1941 U.S. national junior men’s singles champion).
Following his honorable discharge as a World War II Army officer, Bill was practicing law in Philadelphia, and it was at the skating rink that Carolyn caught his eye. They were married for almost 63 years and lived principally in two unique properties discovered by Carolyn — one in Lake Placid, where they both trained and competed in skating, and the other in Hillsboro Beach, Florida. Along with Bill’s deep love, support and passion for landscaping and orchids, Carolyn’s imagination flourished at these properties. The Hillsboro and Lake Placid homes evolved into warm and exquisite places where a positive and creative atmosphere helped nurture their children and stepchildren in their diverse interests (skating, sailing, water skiing, tennis, snow skiing, flying and the arts). As a devoted mother, Carolyn helped schedule, coach, and drive her children to an assortment of activities and countless competitive events. In the 1960s, Carolyn and Bill started the Skating Club of Florida Inc., which still remains the oldest skating club in Florida. While Bill’s career grew as an attorney, banker and chairman of the board of Pine Crest School for almost two decades, Carolyn donated her time towards the Pine Crest School Mothers Club, Boca Raton Antique Club, various historical societies and other philanthropic endeavors. Meanwhile, she was improving her own skating — achieving a Gold Level Pair Dance accreditation. In her later years and until the age of 90, she was an active figure skating Gold Level judge. Within these vast communities and associations, Carolyn’s style and elegance permeated all she did and all she touched. Her smile and zest for life remained quite evident as a senior.
Whether she was watching a young athlete compete or herself sink a putt, Carolyn was fully engaged as you could see that glint in her eye! This was especially so when she was with her German shepherd dog, Trinny. Carolyn had a renowned love for dogs, and in her early 80s adopted Trinny — a gift from her stepson’s daughter. A deep, enduring bond developed between the two that lasted for over 14 years. She was very proud of the canine obedience training certificate they achieved together.
Carolyn’s indomitable spirit made her quite the competitor, whether as teen on the ice or as a 97-year-old in the club’s exercise class. With a fun and engaging personality, she gave sage advice and influenced many along her path. This is her legacy.
Now that her spirit has taken flight and her chapter ends on this earth, she rests in peace alongside her loving husband Bill, who predeceased her on Dec. 20, 2013. She is survived by her daughter C. Lynn Grimditch Roda and husband Joseph J. Roda of Manchester, Vermont; her son Wayne H. Grimditch of Jupiter, Florida; her stepdaughter Gloria G. Grimditch of Prescott, Arizona; and her grandchildren Hayley Anne Chomic-Roda of London, England, and Weston C. Roda of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Carolyn will be entombed in East Lawn Memorial Park, 4300 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95819. In lieu of flowers, and if desired, please make any contributions in Carolyn’s memory to American Cancer Society, the Humane Society of the United States, or the United States Figure Skating Association.