Carlynn Ann (Wood) Dutton
August 2, 1951 – November 3, 2022
Carlynn Ann Dutton, of Mammoth Lakes, California, passed away peacefully on November 3. She was 71 years old.
Carlynn was born August 2, 1951, in Lynwood, California, to Doyle and Latha Wood. She was the middle sister to Ron and Leonard Wood. She graduated from West High in Torrance, California, in 1969. Carlynn earned her Associate’s Degree from El Camino Community College before transferring to San Diego State University, graduating in 1973, then continuing her post-graduate education.
Carlynn was passionate about anything and everything she took on. She did not waste a day. She had a great sense of humor and a quick wit. Passionate, caring, committed. If you met Carlynn, you remembered her.
Carlynn was with the Athletic Medicine Program at San Diego State from 1973 to 1986, working with all men’s and women’s teams and the Athletic Training Internship Program. For half her tenure she was the Assistant Head Trainer and she spent one year as the Acting Head Trainer for this Division I program. She was one of the first group of women certified as Athletic Trainers (AT, C) in the State of California. Many coworkers and students went on to long careers in the field, with universities and professional teams. Jerry Hines, SDSU athlete and former Army Ranger, said: “Carlynn was Head Trainer for San Diego State football and her work and presence there are legendary. If you played football, you knew Carlynn and there was a level of trust always there, on and off the field. If you went down on the field, she was the first one there holding your hand, talking to you. We all knew Carlynn would make it better. Like a big sister, she took care of all of us. She took her job seriously and had the fire in her eyes and presence to back it up. Everyone knew not to mess with Carlynn, and we did what she told us to do from therapy through being back on the field, with a high level of trust – that was her job. I had the pleasure of knowing Carlynn and being friends for 38 years. She was a true force of nature and a warrior. Truly a big sister to me. Love you Carlynn.”
She later obtained her Physical Therapy Assistant license and worked in a wide variety of physical therapy positions. Her career in athletic training and physical therapy spanned 1972 to 2018. Her most recent position was part time at Bishop Care Center, which allowed her to schedule her time so she could volunteer with Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. She taught CPR for many years and coached AYSO soccer. She did all the coursework necessary to earn her teaching credential. She also attended Pacific College of Oriental Medicine for a full year of Traditional Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture.
From the mid-1980s through 2018, she was active as a trainer in volunteer organizations and various athletic teams. In San Diego, this included high schools, and minor league hockey. She worked as an athletic trainer for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. One of her favorite trips was traveling to New Orleans with USA Women’s Rugby. Carlynn devoted time to Veteran’s Organizations. Her father was a WWII dive bomber and her older brother served in Vietnam. She worked with the annual Veteran’s Summer Games in San Diego and traveled to Veteran’s events in Salt Lake City, Utah and Omaha, Nebraska, along with Durango and Snowmass in Colorado. One trip to Snowmass for the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic included a fun drive down the mountain. Just as happens in our Mammoth area, the airport in Aspen was closed due to a storm. She and five athletes decided to rent a vehicle and make the 200-mile drive to Denver, in the storm. After a couple of hours of driving, she asked if everyone was okay with the snow, the road conditions, and her driving. They all just laughed, as all were visually impaired athletes.
Carlynn and Grady lived for over 25 years in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego. Lucas came along during that time, as did a major home addition, gardens, and, for many years, Carlynn instigated 'Olive Street Friday Night' - a time for neighbors and friend to just hang out. Many great friends and great memories came out of those years. AYSO, Little League, High Schools, plenty of food and frivolity. Every neighborhood needs an instigator, someone to keep things moving. Carlynn was that. Never 'in charge', never the 'planner', just someone who by force of will made things happen.
Carlynn’s first trip to Mammoth Mountain was in 1976 and she continued to make the 400-mile trek many dozens of times. In 2014 she and her husband, Grady, moved to Mammoth Lakes. She had been volunteering with DSES for years, spending some full winters in Mammoth. She has been recognized by DSES as a Frequent Flyer, she was given their Terry Smutney Inspiration award and, more recently, Instructor of the Year.
Wendi Ota Eusebio, mother of Evan, one of Carlynn’s DSES students; “When I first met Carlynn, my son, Evan, and I were only a couple of years into his autism journey. I was frantically navigating the confusing and foreboding world of autism that our family had been unwillingly catapulted into. It was a time where more often than not, I felt lost, overwhelmed, and in a constant state of searching for something stable to cling to. It was during that period that Evan and I crossed paths with Carlynn. As I reflect back, I realize Carlynn was dropped into our family universe at literally just the right time. With her kind heart and her larger-than-life personality, she quickly became and has always been one of our family’s towers of strength. She was a person who told you like it was, even if it was different from what you “needed” to hear. There was no sugar coating, no beating around the bush, just pure honesty, but you always knew it came from a place of love, affection, and kindness. One of my favorite conversations with Carlynn took place during one of the many ski lessons she had with Evan. Evan was probably 6 years old and we were downstairs in the DSES office getting him ready to head out to the lesson. Carlynn asked Evan if he was ready to go, he said “yes!” and I picked up his equipment and started walking out to the lift. Suddenly, I heard Carlynn say to Evan, “Hey Evan! YOUR MOM IS NOT YOUR SHERPA! You can carry your own skis!” She took the skis from me, handed them to Evan, and he carried those skis all the way to the lift line. To be transparent, Evan DID try to hand those skis off to Carlynn a couple of times, but she kept walking next to him, carrying her own skis. and Evan followed her lead. I stood there with my mouth wide open, laughed, and it dawned on me that Carlynn’s goal wasn’t just to teach Evan to ski, she also wanted to teach him how to be independent and how to have confidence in his abilities. She didn’t just THINK Evan was capable of greatness, she KNEW he was! She was determined to see Evan be the best version of himself and she was unwilling to accept anything less. I truly believe that’s why Evan continually asked for Carlynn EVERY TIME we were in Mammoth. Even though he couldn’t articulate to me why he wanted Carlynn, I know it’s because he felt her warmth, he felt the confidence she had in him, and he felt the love Carlynn always gave to people she cared for. Carlynn was a true friend to Evan and their friendship was truly unique, special, and AWESOME!
I am forever grateful to Carlynn because she helped me REALLY see Evan and all that he had to offer the world. She taught me to focus on his potential and the positive because that was all that mattered at the end of the day. That life-changing perspective played a HUGE role in what kind of mom I grew into, and it helped me understand the world of autism was not foreboding and ominous like I first thought, but in fact, it was a beautiful, colorful, and incredibly amazing place to be! Thank you Carlynn…the lessons you have taught Evan and I have far transcended the slopes of Mammoth. You taught us to appreciate ALL the victories, big or small, and you showed us how to find and focus on the amazing parts of ourselves. We will miss your brave spirit and the sound of your voice calling out Evan’s name as the two of you ski the Mammoth slopes together. We love you, we will always think of you, and we are forever grateful that we were a part of your incredible life journey.”
Evan Eusebio, DSES student; “This is my story of Ms. Carlynn. I loved skiing the mountains and hills, speeding through the gates, and riding the chairlift with Ms. Carlynn. We had conversations and we chatted and talked about our favorite places and restaurants. I loved going on gondola rides, having lunch and dinner with her, and visiting Ms. Carlynn, her husband Grady, and her cats. Some of my favorite times were sitting in the DSES waiting room with Ms. Carlynn before and after my ski lesson. When I wasn’t in Mammoth, my mom and I would FaceTime together with Ms. Carlynn and Grady and that was fun. Ms. Carlynn and Grady gave me the book, Squirrels on Skis. We would read it together. It is my favorite book! I love Ms. Carlynn because she was my friend and she will always be the best skiing teacher in the whole WORLD! I will miss her so much.
Kathy Copeland of DSES offered: “Carlynn was a force of nature…. her exuberance for life was unparalleled! With her skills as a physical therapist and her zest for skiing, she was one of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra’s top instructors. Her no bullshit approach coupled with her compassion and experience for people with special needs made her an incredible asset to the organization! She raised funds, cooked meals, and so much more… she was fully involved along with her husband Grady and son Lucas. We miss her so much and will always remember her with so much love.”
Carlynn tried everything, including gymnastics, diving, cheerleading (to her great surprise), basketball, tennis, softball, volleyball, over the line, horseback riding (wrangling in Idaho), golf, croquet, petanque, ping pong, badminton, kayaking, hiking, running, paddle boarding, skeet/trap shooting and much more. She worked at a trap range in LA and was handed a stick of Beamon's by Chuck Yeager. As a spectator, she attended the World Series (Padres only victory 1984) and Women's World Cup. She visited three America's Cup Harbors in three different countries (San Diego, Fremantle, Auklsnd). Her favorite participant sports were cycling, soccer, and skiing. Carlynn rode in the DSES Sierra Cycling Challenge multiple times, raising thousands for the organization. She rode in Mammoth’s Fondo with her DSES students. Carlynn played adult soccer for over 25 years; indoor, outdoor, coed and women. It was not unusual to have four games in one week, indoor and outdoor. One year her Saturday women’s team (Sundance) was matched against her Sunday women’s team (WGASA?) in what was then the San Diego County Cup. She played with Saturday, who won. Soccer took her to tournaments in Las Vegas, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo and a special trip to Tahiti for a Bastille Day tournament. Carlynn skied off and on from the mid-70s, with visits to Colorado, Utah, Idaho, the Eastern Sierra and New Zealand.
Carlynn was politically active, joining rallies in support of health care in 2009 and making thousands of phone calls for Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. She was rarely at a loss for an opinion, but she would not offer one unless she could back it up. In 1972 she went to Hollywood and appeared on The Dating Game. The prize was a trip to the Eufala Pilgrimage in Eufala, Alabama. While there, the governor called to welcome the winners to the great State of Alabama. So, what did Carlynn say to the infamous George Wallace? “Hey, thanks for calling. I have to say, though, I don’t agree with a thing you stand for, but you still didn’t deserve to get shot.”
Carlynn enjoyed music, from classical to rock. Somehow she found time to learn to play violin and guitar. She loved seeing her son Lucas open his own recording studio and enjoyed every piece he recorded, produced, wrote and played. She was fortunate to see many live performances such as Chicago, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Moody Blues, Trini Lopez, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Bob Dylan (in Perth, Australia), Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Tom Petty, Beck, Fleetwood Mac, Roger Waters’ The Wall, R.E.M., Weezer, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Emmy Lou Harris, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Chris Isaak, Opera (at La Strada in Milan), San Diego Philharmonic, Dixie Chicks, Neil Young, the list goes on…. She was a season ticket holder at The Olde Globe in San Diego’s Balboa Park. She and Grady were also members at the San Diego Zoo and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Carlynn's favorite play? The Book of Mormon.
Carlynn loved to travel, typically venturing to warmer climes, with trips to Tahiti, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand. Her last big trip was three weeks in Italy in 2018. She immersed herself in the people and culture everywhere they went, always spending time with locals and trying every food and drink she could find. Wine, beer, kava, lovos; if it could be found, she would try it. Sushi was a favorite, from the first time she tried it, in Japan with a San Diego State Aztec football trip in the early 80s, to her last at her friend Shin’s restaurant in June of this year in Westwood.
Throughout numerous injuries resulting in orthopedic surgery and rehab and her more recent bouts with cancer, Carlynn has remained an inspiration. A couple of metal plates, bilateral hip replacements and various other surgeries were only temporary setbacks. Diagnosed with abdominal lymphoma in late 2017, she attacked the treatment. Her oncologist, who taught skiing long ago and is a Mammoth visitor, was duly impressed. Carlynn would go to Santa Monica for five days of aggressive inpatient chemotherapy, return home, rest for five days, ski for three or four, rest, then return to Santa Monica for the next round, through all five rounds. When another cancer hit her in late 2018, she began a treatment course that ran through August of the next year. Her last day on skis was April 14, 2019. After a difficult autumn of 2019, she spent a few months in a rehab facility in Santa Monica, during the height of Covid. It must be said that the therapy staff there also considered her an inspiration and remain great friends of the family. The three key therapists (physical, occupational, speech) even created a “Team Dutton” approach to her care. Allison Willits, the PT of the group, said “Accepting the opportunity to evaluate and begin treating Carlynn in late 2019 was one of the best things I ever did. Working with her has been a career- and life-changing experience. She has been an inspiration to us all.”
Carlynn was recently hit with long-delayed, rare side effects of the previous cancer treatments. She received great care from Mammoth Hospital and her UCLA Medical Team. Carlynn and her support group made every effort, but the complications proved too complex, too numerous. For those who would like a bit more detail, Carlynn was beset with a form of myelodysplastic sundrome (MDS), where the body no longer makes enough healthy, normal blood cells in the bone marrow.
She passed away peacefully in Santa Monica on November 3 with her husband Grady by her side. She was comforted by many visitors, texts, phone calls and FaceTime chats with friends and family. Grady and a couple of close friends celebrated Grady and Carlynn’s 33rd Wedding Anniversary on November 11, 2022, with all the energy and enthusiasm they could muster, as Carlynn would have wanted. Her ashes will be spread in accordance with her wishes.
Carlynn has a son, Errol Smith, currently of Oregon, soon to be San Diego, and two grandchildren, Ryann and Aiden. Carlynn and Grady have a son, Lucas, in Mammoth Lakes. She is also survived by her older brother Ron (Diane) in Filer, Idaho, and her younger brother, Leonard (Jean) of Chico, California.
A Celebration of All Things Carlynn was held on January 19 in Mammoth Lakes. Celebration of All Things Carlynn II will be held in mid-February in San Diego. Carlynn has always insisted on an upbeat approach. The Mammoth gathering was a true celebration, with friends and family sharing stories and having a good time, as difficult as that may seem. The folks in North Park will be challenged to do the same!!
Lastly, in accordance with her wishes, everyone is encouraged to make a donation in her memory to Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra.
Donate to DSES Website Donation Page (disabledsportseasternsierra.org)
|Carlynn Ann Dutton
|Date of Birth
|August 2nd, 1951
|Date of Death
|November 3rd, 2022
|Lynwood, CA, US
|Well, fuck me running
|In Memoriam Donation
|Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra
|1965 - 1969
|West High, High School
|1969 - 1971
|El Camino Community College, Associate's Degree
|1971 - 1973
|San Diego State University, Bachelor's Degree
|1973 - 1984
|San Diego State University, Post Grad Studies
|1973 - 1986
|Athletic Trainer, San Diego State University
|Gave birth to Errol Smith
|1986 - 2018
|Physical Therapy Assistant, Various Outpatient and Inpatient
|Married Grady Dutton
|Gave birth to Lucas Dutton
|2011 - 2017
|Adaptive Ski Instructor, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra
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published a tribute .
Carlynn, and Grady, were instant friends when I became their neighbor in Mammoth! Carlynn shared her love of DSES with me, and although my time with DSES was very short-lived, I became a fan for life!
Carlynn and I enjoyed talking about politics, world events, differently-abled athletes, etc… and she was never short of an opinion! I think 2 times stand out in remembering her~ we twisted off together to ski when we were both “under doctors care/orders” to not be on the hill… we headed to Eagle Lodge for the longest green run and had a blast… watching each other’s back, running defense to protect each other, and the other was a cocktail she made for me and brought over while I was painting my balcony railings…. Almost killed me…. I’m highly allergic to mango.. and the drink was made with mango juice! We laughed so hard about it!
Anyway, Carlynn was an inspiration to me… she lived her life, her way! Mammoth has lost an angel… my deeply felt sympathies to Grady and all her family and friends.
published a tribute .
Grady so sorry to hear of her passing! What can I say? She made me laugh all the time, she was fun to spend time with and always spoke her mind. When she taped my ankles for all of those Ludes games at SDSU, she made me feel invincible!!! Love Greg and Eileen Pater
published a tribute .
Miss you so much Carlynn! Will always remember all the fun we had on and off the slopes when I was getting back on the twin planks. ❤️❤️❤️
published a tribute .
Thank you for allowing me and my staff take care of you and putting up
with us, Carlynn. Grady, you were a devoted care taker.