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Carmel Lena Triska
Nov. 26, 1925-March 23, 2019
Menlo Park, California

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Carmel Lena Triska died peacefully in her home on Saturday, March 23, 2019. She was 93 years old.

Carmel was born in Oakland on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1925, the only child of Italian immigrants Eugene and Mary Burastero from Liguria, who operated a produce stand in the old Oakland Wholesale Produce Market. Curious and bright, Carmel loved learning and impressed her teachers, as well as her parents, who themselves had been unable to attend school beyond 3rd grade.

At Oakland High School, Carmel excelled in English literature and writing, and also enjoyed the arts, singing in the school choir, performing in theatre, and playing violin in the orchestra. She graduated in 1943, accepted to Mills College.

At Mills, Carmel majored in English and minored in Music, and in June of 1947, graduated with an AB and a teaching credential. She began teaching English and co-directing the choir at Salinas High School.

While attending a visiting lecture on post-war Europe, Carmel introduced herself to the speaker, Jan Triska, a recent emigre from Czechoslovakia. They fell in love, and were married in Oakland on August 26, 1951.

The young couple spent the next few years pursuing education and career, living and teaching in Saint Louis and then Boston, where Carmel earned her MA in Education at Harvard. They lived briefly in Palo Alto where their first son Mark was born, and then in Ithaca, New York, where John was born, before settling down in Menlo Park in 1960, when Jan joined the faculty at Stanford.

Carmel took time off teaching to support the family at home and in overseas postings in Vienna and Florence, where she also supported appreciative undergraduates in Stanford Abroad programs. In 1970, she returned to her career, teaching in Redwood City middle schools, before eventually “retiring” to volunteer teaching English to recent immigrants, and mentoring challenged youth in the Sequoia Union High School District. Over the years, many students and families expressed their gratitude for Carmel’s unique, positive contribution to their lives.

Throughout her life Carmel was an intrepid traveler, learning Languages and developing communication skills in diverse cultures around the world. Carmel visited numerous countries in North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific islands. She was a longtime parishioner of St. Raymond and St. Denis, and participated in the St. Raymond Church choir for many years. She was a member of the St. Dennis Book Club, and was also a longtime member of the Stanford Italian (language) Club. She was a lifelong learner, loved language, and enjoyed reading, working crossword puzzles, viewing fine and performing arts, watching movies, and engaging in conversation around ideas. She loved all living things, and in the last several years, was happiest in the sunshine of her backyard garden.

Those of us privileged to have known Carmel will remember her wonderful interpersonal skills, intellectual curiosity, selfless generosity, and resilient sense of humor. Time spent with Carmel was refreshing, leaving a lasting impression of hope and possibility. Carmel listened with compassion, and possessed the rare gift of finding the good in everyone. She was a role model and mentor to many. She will be greatly missed.

The family is deeply grateful for the dedication and loving kindness of Carmel’s caregivers, who enabled Carmel to remain at the center of family and friends until the end.

Carmel is survived by her two sons, Mark and his wife Maria of Livermore, and John and his wife Christine of Redwood City; her granddaughters Audra, Chiara, Karis, and Iris; and her great grandchildren Amelie, Trinity, Nolan, and Sloane.

For information about Carmel’s funeral and celebration of life, please contact Funeral Director John O’Connor at (650) 329-8022.

Tags: teacher/educator

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