March 14, 1924 - February 1, 2019
Born in Paris, France
Resided in Salinas, California
Born in Paris in 1924, Renee’s childhood was often isolated. She was raised by a strict grandmother who kept her from many childhood niceties and social gatherings. She gained independence in her late teens and others began to take notice of her beauty, opening the door to modeling and acting opportunities in Paris that she pursued until war struck France in 1940.
As a young woman, Renee lived through the fall of Paris, the Nazi occupation, and its ultimate liberation by Allied forces in 1945. This time in her life undoubtedly helped forge the fearlessness, resilience, and toughness that became her signature.
Near the end of the war, Renee met an American GI stationed in Paris, Steven McCarter, who quickly became her husband. With his deployment complete, Steven returned home to Boise, Idaho leaving Renee in France waiting for her immigration paperwork to process. With documents in hand, she began the arduous solo journey from Paris to a rural outpost in Idaho with only a fur coat, suitcase, and a handful of English words at her disposal.
Renee lived for adventure and Steven exposed her to many new pursuits: hiking, hunting, and most notably fly-fishing. While unconventional for women of the day, Renee mastered fly fishing, bringing a vigor and persistence unmatched by any who set foot in the stream alongside her. At the time, you would have been hard-pressed to find any woman who had fished as many streams or caught as many fish as Renee McCarter. She found no joy in others losing, but possessed an unabashed love for winning that consistently pushed her to always seek out what may lie around the next bend.
Eventually their lives brought them to Salinas, where Steven opened a chain of local pharmacies across the central coast. As a licensed pharmacist Steven managed the prescription business, while Renee crafted an elevated retail experience that made the stores a shopping destination for local residents. Renee’s keen eye for style and elegance reflected in the variety of European inspired items that lined the shelves. She continued to work in the stores late into her 70s, relishing the opportunity to interact with customers on a daily basis.
Renee returned to France many times in her life, where some relatives remain, but she also sought experiences well beyond Europe. Her travels took her around the world multiple times, experiencing dozens of countries across all continents. Her children and grandchildren accompanied her on many of these journeys, creating some of the family’s most cherished memories of Kimma.
Later in life, Renee redirected her energies towards more accessible hobbies such as gardening, exercise classes at the YMCA, and playing cards. She took great pride in her rose garden and continued to nurse them despite multiple knee and hip surgeries. She found companionship after Steven’s passing in her forever puppy golden-doodle, Mimi, who laid by her side until her final breath.
Renee maintained many things as she aged, including a stubborn French accent; her English was a dialect of its own. And while many find themselves slipping mentally with age, Renee retained her wit, something she attributed to her daily sudokus and frequent card playing. It was a rare visit to Kimma’s house that didn't contain the phrase, “shall we play cards?” She participated in a bridge club just a week before her passing.
Renee lived an extraordinary life under extraordinary circumstances. Her spirit served as an inspiration to many and she will be missed.
At Renee's request, there will be no services and a private family celebration of life at a future date.
Donations may be made in Renee's name to: Active Seniors in Salinas at 100 Harvest Street, Salinas, CA or the Salinas YMCA.
Salinas, CA US 93901