A Seattle native of Ashkenazic-German descent, Carolyn Danz grew up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. She was a lifelong member of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, the oldest Reform Congregation in the Pacific Northwest. Carolyn graduated in 1939 from the University of Washington with a BA in Fine Arts, married Jerry Taylor in 1940, and had two children. Jerry, diagnosed with MS early in their marriage, died in 1959. Carolyn supported her family by opening and running a dressmaking business. A skilled seamstress, she and her talented African American assistant, Maude, made beautiful clothing. Long after the business closed, Carolyn remained an avid sewer, needleworker, and award winning cross stitcher. She married Bill Danz in 1959. It was a second marriage for him, too, and their families blended easily. The couple enjoyed more than 50 years together. Passionate in her work on behalf of those in need, Carolyn served on the boards of many Jewish and civic organizations in Seattle. She had boundless energy and joy. Two of her many long standing interests were croquet and opera. She helped to found the Northwest Croquet Association, competed in U.S. tournaments, and supported the Lakeside Opera Guild for many years. Above all, she delighted in family and was a loving matriarch: this, her family felt, is what truly defined her. Carolyn died on March 27, 2012 at the age of 94.
“I was born in Seattle, Washington on July 30, 1918 at Providence Hospital during the influenza epidemic. Only my father was allowed to come see me. My parents bought the home at 1020 15th Avenue East across the street from Volunteer Park, just about a month before I was born. And I lived there for 21 and a half years until I got married, and my parents lived there for about 31 years. It was a wonderful place to live. We always thought Volunteer Park was our front yard.
“As far as our neighborhood is concerned, we were brought up so lovingly and naturally that nothing affected us. We never felt any antisemitism. The only time I felt different—it didn’t bother me but I knew I was different—was when I went to the university in 1935 and was going to pledge a sorority. But I knew that there was only one sorority I could pledge and that was Alpha Epsilon Phi. I had some friends that that really did bother so they did not want to join this sorority. I think I felt secure in my way which, of course, comes from the fact that I was brought up properly.
“When I was a little girl my mother used to volunteer at the Caroline Kline Galland Home for the Jewish aged. And my mother’s friends, they formed a group, and when we were young my sister and I used to go out there with her. That’s how I got started there. I enjoyed it very much, because I could use some of my skills, and these ladies were just darling ladies. It’s had a wonderful history, and I could go into that history, but that’s another story.”
“I went looking for a job in the fall of 1948. Nobody wanted to hire me. I didn’t know anything. My brother-in-law said, ‘Well, why don’t you open your own dressmaking shop?’ And I said, ‘I can’t do that.’ He says,‘Sure, you can.’ So he backed me and I opened a shop in the Shafer Building, which is at Sixth and Pine. There were quite a few dressmakers and milliners and also in that building there were two or three abortionists. I was only to do original work, design and make clothes, but the first week,I started alterations because you have to take in some money. And I did both. I did not make a lot of money in the dressmaking business but I made enough to take care of everything for myself and for part of the household.”
© 2004 Jewish Women’s Archive. Photographs by Joan Roth.