Carolyn Buan, editor of Oregon Benchmarks (1985-2002) and The First Duty: a History of the U.S. District Court for Oregon (1993), passed away in her sleep on February 26, 2016. The USDCHS honored her many contributions to our organization at our Annual Dinner in 2013.
Carolyn was born in Gallup, New Mexico and grew up in Alaska, the sole child of Robert and Willetta Matsen. After graduating from West High in Anchorage, she joined the drama program at UCLA for her freshman year of college. She transferred to Lewis & Clark College, where she earned a B.A. in English, and went on to earn her M.A. in English from the University of Washington. She returned to Anchorage to teach high school. In 1966 her teaching took her to Wroxton College, England. Carolyn met and married a Norwegian man, Helge Buan. Their children, daughter Sigfrid and son Robert, were born in a small village across the fjord from Trondheim, Norway, where the Buans lived. Carolyn spent over six years as a housewife. The marriage ended in divorce, and her children were raised in Oregon.
On returning to Oregon Carolyn did writing and editing for the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. She then spent 10 years as associate director of the Oregon Council for the Humanities, a job that allowed her to travel extensively around the state doing outreach work. Carolyn started her own writing and editing service in 1986. Over the years, she wrote and edited an impressive number of publications, many of with historical themes, including The First Oregonians (1992), Nosotros: The Hispanic People of Oregon (1995) and Portland Then and Now (2001). Her last big project was What Made Sammy Run? in 2013, the true story of her friend Sam Silberman’s experience as a teenager in a concentration camp in Nazi Poland. She was able bring forth great stories from the writers with whom she worked.
At the time of her death, Carolyn was retired but very active, writing the newsletter for Northeast Village PDX, researching and writing a mystery novel set in WWII and present-day Norway. She loved theater and helped to costume the actors in numerous productions of her granddaughter’s theater group. Carolyn loved to travel and, in addition to annual trips to Norway and frequent visits to California, she also took a recent Eco-cruise in Alaska and Russia, a tour through Turkey and a trip to Paris.
We thank Carolyn Buan for her many contributions to Oregon’s history.