By Mary Carnell
Mazie Lou Walker Carnell, 96, was the ultimate survivor and matriarch of Tahoe City, having touched the lives of countless children beyond her own seven kids, 11 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren since the ’40s. She was the Tahoe pioneer ranch woman of the century with family going back more than six generations. Any and all old Tahoe City locals were the beneficiaries of her hands-on library science classes if they went to Tahoe Lake School. No one could forget the tarantula, scorpion, and snakes, to name just a few critters, that took up residence there. There was even Mazie Day at the school. She orchestrated the children’s choir at the Corpus Christi Catholic Church and at graduations. Her impact shaped lives and character, bringing us back to a time in America that was truly iconic. Mazie, an incredible storyteller, relished in teaching us about the good ol’ days, about every flower, about growing and canning food, and about pretty much everything God made.
Born in her grandmother’s home in Clarksville, California, on May 12, 1927, she survived losing her mother at three, being separated from three of her four siblings, and spending most of her life working hard to make ends meet. She was a dead-eye sharp shooter, a lover of horses, sheep, and babies. Mazie was married to Dick Carnell for 70 years until he passed in 2018. They had a wonderful life with many years spent in Sierraville after the children were raised, where they led a posse and built a school library, of course, and Mazie established Angel Wings, which successfully provided for children who were victims of abuse and neglect. The whole family made it to Thanksgiving each year with mom still cooking for 40 people at age 95. She was canning jalapeno cowboy candy and raspberry jam two days before a stroke signaled it was time to go home.
She asked our Lord to take her to heaven and was anxious to care for her two children, Tom and Teria, who preceded her in death. She was adored by her family and surrounded by her remaining children, John, Mike, Tim, Patti, and Joe, as well as daughters-in-law and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, at St. Mary’s in Reno with a whole community calling to say goodbye. Her passing was peaceful, painless, and covered in love.
A celebration of her life and birthday will be held at Granlibakken next May. Donations in her remembrance can be made to St. Mary’s Hospice at 6490 S. McCarran Blvd., Ste. B13, Reno, NV 89509.