Carol Beatrice Hoffman DeCanio Abeles
Carol was the daughter of George and Sophie Hoffman—people who believed in compassion, activism, creativity, family, and their Jewish religion. She grew up in San Francisco when September was the month for tourists and where going downtown required wearing gloves, but never white shoes.
Throughout Carol’s life, she wrote poetry. In fourth grade she wrote a poem with the line “finding love in the bushes of sin.” After a grueling–What did you mean by that?–interrogation by her lawyer father, she surmised that words must have a lot of power.
Her poems appeared in literary journals, anthologies, and broadsides. She was invited to give many poetry readings and was the recipient of the Individual Award in Poetry from the Santa Barbara Arts Fund.
In the exciting 1960’s, she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where her first poetry publication was in the Harvard Hillel newspaper in 1969. Her poems were displayed in the windows of her favorite bookstores— Cambridge’s Grolier’s Bookshop and San Francisco’s City Lights.
While in Cambridge, she was involved in social science research. She helped develop a study design for Head Start, a then new federal program. At a consulting company, she worked on patterns of residential crime and on the effects of living in low-income housing upon children’s health. For five years, she assisted in organizing and implementing a large introductory course at Harvard’s interdisciplinary Department of Social Relations.
After her marriage in 1972, she lived in New Haven, Connecticut where she was on a committee of Yale faculty wives to establish the first hospice in the USA. Her research work was at the Yale-New Haven Department of Epidemiology and Public Health and at the Yale School of Nursing.
Carol happily moved to Santa Barbara in 1978, where she worked at Ellwood Elementary School with learning disability students and also at UCSB for 12 years in the departments of education, psychology, and chemical engineering.
During her 42 years in Santa Barbara, Carol held art shows of her photography paired with her poetry at the UCSB Faculty Club, the Sojourner Café, and at First Thursday venues. She was the poetry columnist for six years at VOICE Casa Magazine and organized poetry events, workshops, and the Santa Barbara Poetry Series. For National Poetry Month, she created displays at the Santa Barbara Public Library. Working with Mayor Marty Blum in 2005, she initiated the position of Santa Barbara Poet Laureate.
Carol always loved working and being with children. She was an invited judge at many poetry competitions such as Poetry Out Loud and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. From 2007 to 2019, to celebrate National Poetry Month, she solicited and selected elementary school students’ poems for display at Chaucer’s Bookstore as well as designed, printed, and distributed posters for display at elementary schools. At Congregation B’nai B’rith, where she was an enthusiastic member, she was the Children’s Librarian for 16 years.
In a life of many accomplishments, Carol was above all attached to her three sons, her four grandchildren, and the love-of-her- life—her husband Ronald Abeles. “I don’t care what the size of my life is— I just care that I make it.”