Died in Palo Alto after a brief illness on April 3, 2018. A Palo
Alto resident since 1973, she was for several decades a dynamo
of the Silicon Valley residential real estate industry.
The daughter of Frank
R. Mayo and Eleanor P. Mayo, Carolyn was born in Chicago in 1937
when her father, having earned his PhD in Chemistry at the University
of Chicago, was teaching there. Already doing cutting-edge research,
Dr. Mayo became an internationally recognized polymer chemist,
ending his career with three decades at the Stanford Research
Carolyn was educated at the Lab School, Northfield School for
Girls, and Brown University, where she earned her bachelors
degree in history.
Her freshman year she met Roger
Mansell, an engineering student at Brown. He asked her to
marry him on their first date; after four years, she finally
agreed, and they were married in the chapel at Brown University.
In their first year of marriage, Roger, a U.S. Army Artillery
officer, was stationed at a forward fire base on the South Korean
DMZ. Carolyn was obliged to remain to remain in the US, where
she took a position as a social worker at Deaconness Hospital
in Boston. Informed by the U.S. Army that it was impossible to
travel to Korea as a tourist, with the help of a Japanese friend,
she arranged to get a tourist visa-on-demand at the South Korean
Embassy in Tokyo. She arrived in Seoul before Christmas 1959
to find an airport with one building, one light bulb, and one
person in sight: her husband with a rifle, bundled up against
the intense cold, in an open Jeep. After a brief stay in an army
tent, they celebrated a delayed honeymoon at the Imperial Hotel
Roger was subsequently stationed stateside, and their first child,
Catherine, was born at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas in 1961.
Because Carolyns parents had moved to California for her
fathers work at SRI, when Roger decided make a career in
business, they relocated to the Bay Area. Roger took a job in
San Francisco in printing sales; Carolyn joined her mothers
PEO chapter, and they bought a new house surrounded by cherry
orchards in Sunnyvale. Their second child, Alice, was born in
1963. Carolyn was a hard-working and creative stay-at-home mom,
organizing babysitting coops and neighborhood Fourth of July
parties, leading a troop of Brownies and various Girl Scout activities,
and for her girls iceskating club shows, designing and
sewing costumes, ranging from a Martian to a glittering Chinese
dragon to be carried aloft by a half dozen children.
When Carolyn decided
to make a career outside the home, it was Roger who encouraged
her to go into real estate. In 1972 she began work as a realtor
with Wright & Co. and quickly became the top producer in
Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. This was a time when most agents
were men and overt discrimination against women was not uncommon.
In 1984 she founded Mansell & Co. During this decade she
was recognized by the Los Altos Board of Realtors as Top
Achiever for 10 Consecutive Years.
Over the decades with Mansell & Co. Carolyn mentored many
other agents, most of them women, and including her own daughter,
Alice, who, after earning her law degree, came to work with her
as a broker.
Carolyn pioneered or
was a pioneer in many practices that are now considered standard
in the industry. For example, with Rogers help, she had
the first brochures printed for houses listed in the area. She
also did some of the first house staging and seller-financing
deals. In other respects, however, she was unusual for a real
estate agent of her time and place. She never allowed her photograph
to be used in advertisements, and she refused to launch a website
for her company, as she preferred to work with clients who came
to her as personal referrals.
Carolyn loved helping her clients, many of whom also became good
friends. She relished not only finding homes for them, or as
was the case, selling their homes, but negotiating contracts.
Real estate was such a passion for her that even in her last
days, from her hospital bed, she wanted to know every detail
of the deals-in-progress, and that her clients were taken care
At the time of her
passing Mansell & Co. was the oldest female-owned real estate
company in Silicon Valley.
Roger Mansell died
in 2010, one year after celebrating their 50th anniversary. Carolyn
is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Jean and Jack Howell;
daughter Catherine and son-in-law Agustín G. Carstens,
and daughter Alice Mansell.