Palo Alto hiker dies after fall

Carol Hyde is remembered for her joy in life, loving and generous spirit

Right until she stumbled and fell from a ledge during a hike on April 2, Palo Alto resident Carol Hyde's love and enthusiasm for life and people affected everyone she met. She was the kind of person who instantly made people feel they were the most special person in the room, her friend, Julie Bitler, said.

Hyde, 53, was hiking with her husband and daughter near the Devil's Bridge, north of Sedona, Ariz., in an area known for its rock formations when she fell about 75 feet in a freak accident, her husband Larry said. She was sitting on a nearby rock while he took photos of their 13-year-old daughter, Melanie. For some reason, she stood up and tripped, and the momentum caused her to fall head-first into the ravine, he said.

A trauma nurse and several other people immediately went to her aid. Winds of more than 20 miles per hour and gusts exceeding 35 miles per hour prevented her evacuation by air ambulance, he said. With precious minutes turning into hours, rescue personnel carried her about a quarter mile to an off-road vehicle, and she was taken by ambulance to the Flagstaff Medical Center, where she succumbed to her extensive injuries several hours later.

Hyde loved to travel and to plan vacations. She would plan the trips and pull out maps, and she loved the American Southwest in general, visiting Anasazi ruins and hiking in Utah, according to her husband.

"She spent endless hours researching the very best place to stay and the very best things to do," Larry Hyde said. "She had been looking forward to going to Sedona for the last year or so. Even despite this tragedy, she was doing something she wanted to do and she was where she wanted to be."

Carol Hyde had a way that affected people deeply, even those who barely knew her. Persons who had encountered her on the trail that day said they immediately felt her warmth and caring spirit.

"In just the few moments we shared at the bridge, Carol made us smile with her friendly, caring way. I can only imagine how amazing she was in life," Alisa Hoover, who was also hiking in the same area, said in a posting below a story about the tragedy by the Verde Independent newspaper in Cottonwood, Ariz.

"Everybody had the same impression of her and feeling about her -- her compassion, her friendliness, the smile. She always made children feel very special. She made you feel like you were the most special person when she met you," Bitler said.

Hyde was loving, gentle, bright, generous and warm, she said.

"I've never heard her utter a negative word about somebody. I never heard her complain. She just had a positive, joyful outlook about life. She made you happier when you were around her," Bitler said.

Hyde was a Palo Alto native. She graduated from Cubberley High School in 1978 and from U.C. Santa Barbara in 1983. She worked at Kidder, Peabody & Co. in Palo Alto from 1984 to 1985 as an assistant to a broker. She met her husband at the firm, he said. The couple moved to New York where she worked as a graduate career counselor at Pace University from 1987 to 1990. They returned to Palo Alto that year, and she worked as the office manager at Crate and Barrel for 10 years.

Hyde loved hiking, camping, and the outdoors in general. She was an accomplished runner, having twice competed in the New York City Marathon, her husband said. She was a member of Palo Alto's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Hyde was an avid Stanford football and San Jose Sharks fan, and she always made efforts to arrive before the gates opened to maximize family time at the fun events, he said. She loved studying her family lineage, making a trip to Norway where she visited the town of her ancestors.

But the real profession and joy of her life was her family, her husband said. It was a role she poured her soul and creativity into, he said.

Halloween was her favorite holiday and she used her creativity on costumes for Melanie, he said. She spent countless hours with her daughter at the Christian Music Theater at Grace Lutheran Church.

"She was a wonderful wife and mother. She was thoughtful. She would think about how she said things. She was very thoughtful about the way she approached people," her husband said.

Hyde also found great love and value in tradition, even in the smallest event, Bitler said. It wasn't about grand adventures. It was the little things -- a sandwich or a walk of a ball game -- the shared events that make up a life. And she turned those events into part of her personal and family narrative.

"She really valued her history in Palo Alto and growing up here. She enjoyed running into people in town with their kids that she grew up with, and now her kid's playing with their children," she said.

Hyde is survived by her husband, Larry; her daughter, Melanie; her father, Leland Stewart, all of Palo Alto; and her sister, Louise Stewart (Craig) and niece and nephew Alison and Jason of Santa Barbara. She was preceded in death by her mother, Mary Stewart, a Palo Alto art teacher.

A memorial service will be held at on Saturday, May 17, at 1 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 3149 Waverley St., Palo Alto.

Condolences may be sent to the family at

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of choice or to: Melanie M. Hyde (Memo: Education Donation Fund) c/o Wells Fargo Bank, 400 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 100, Palo Alto, Calif. 94301 Attn: Brett Levy.


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Posted by Friend of Carol
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 8, 2014 at 11:17 am

Carol touched so many lives with her gentle spirit and incredible compassion. She is so missed by so many. The memory of her beautiful smile is a comfort as I try to comprehend this tragic accident.

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Posted by So Sorry...
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2014 at 11:26 am

I am so sorry to hear this news. I did not know Carol very well but enough to know she was a very kind and generous person who will be terribly missed.

I wish the Weekly had included more information about her and the impact she had on Palo Alto. Not only does she leave behind a wonderful husband and teenage daughter, but was also the Executive Director of the Palo Alto Humane Society.

My thoughts and prayers go out to her family as they mourn her loss.

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Posted by I Knew Carol
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I am deeply saddened by this news as Carol was a very warm and caring person. My condolences to her family, especially her husband and daughter.

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Posted by Carole Hyde
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm

To clarify for a commenter above, this sad situation did not involve the director of the Palo Alto Humane Society. I feel fortunate to be alive and well and carrying on PAHS' work for the animals. --Carole Hyde, Executive Director, Palo Alto Humane Society

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I am so sorry for this terrible loss. Condolences to her family and other loved ones.

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Posted by Martha
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm

So sad and tragic. Condolences to her family.

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Posted by helena
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Carol was one of the most compassionate person I've known. When meeting her, she immediately made you feel comfortable and loved. She was an amazing wife, mother and friend. Her loss is very hard to comprehend. Our love and strength go to her husband and beautiful daughter.

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Posted by Eric
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Carol was a close neighbor and was the most outgoing, positive and friendly person on our entire block. So sorry that she has left us. We give our best to her family.

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Posted by She was my friends mom
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 8, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I am very sad about this event. She would visit our school and was an amazing woman. We will miss her and keep her and her family in our prayers.

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Posted by a friend
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm

We are so sorry to hear about this tragic accident. Carol was a wonderful woman and she will be missed. Condolences to her husband, daughter and family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

This is terribly sad and tragic. I am so sorry for her family and friends.

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Posted by Catherine
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Community friends,

I'm posting this hoping to sniff out anyone who is leading any coordinated support effort for her surviving spouse/daughter. If such an one exists, please identify them to me or me to them so I can pass through members of the Eichler Swim & Tennis Club/Palo Verde Elementary and JLS Middle School/Christian Musical Theatre/Emergency Services CERT community who are keen to lend hands amidst the challenge of the circumstances.

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Posted by Will miss her smile
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Carol's smile and good nature will be missed by so many in Palo Alto. She always had a kind or encouraging word for you. Carol was also very likely to jump in and roll up her sleeves to help what you were doing.

So many of our friends have commented that she was involved in many activities, seen at the Dish, with her dog or on her scooter - it takes my breath away that she isn't coming around that corner.

My love for her family as they move through this challenging time.

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Posted by Lynn F.
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I'm heartbroken. Carol and I walked the Dish every Monday morning with a group of friends so I know what a lovely, intelligent and gentle person she was. She was so proud of her daughter and adored her husband. I'm writing down every single thing I can remember about Carol to send to Larry for their daughter to read when he thinks the time is right. It's an easy thing to do because there are boatloads of incredible things to say about Carol.

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Posted by Andrew
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm

What absolutely tragic news. I knew Carol through outings with her dog Jasper every Sunday morning. She was a very bright, generous and warm person who made me feel so welcomed as I recently moved to the area. My thoughts are with her husband and daughter during this very difficult time.

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Posted by Cam
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 8, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Carol was a dear friend who I met walking our children to and from preschool—she with her’s in her jogstroller and me with mine on foot, until we reached the creek where the kids would want to be lifted up to look for ducks and fish. Over the years, we continued to enjoy spending time chatting about the day to day and upcoming adventures. She had the most generous spirit—authentic, loving, kind, and fun—and a great sense of humor.

Carol was an amazing mom who enjoyed her family, was so proud of her daughter and husband and valued a close relationship with her father and sister. She would go way out of her way to help her friends and would do an amazing job at whatever she was undertaking. She gave abundantly in her quiet, self-deprecating way and reached so many of us in the process.

We will miss Carol and know that her loss will be particularly difficult for her loving family. During this time of sadness, I will try to honor Carol’s amazing spirit by remembering all of the fun times we shared, prioritizing quality time spent with family and friends and continuing to appreciate the beauty of nature every day.

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Posted by Friend of Carol
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2014 at 9:22 pm

There are no words capable of expressing the profound sense of loss I feel at the news of Carol's death. I treasured her friendship and her way of celebrating small things of beauty. Her love for her family was inspirational and genuine. I will miss her every day, and think often of the places we explored together. The joy she held in watching her daughter mature and grow was something that rubbed off on me. She saw the good in people, and often helped me see multi-dimensional sides of situations. Love to her family during this time of mourning.

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Posted by Friend of Carol & Family
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2014 at 11:59 pm

My heart goes out to Carol's young daughter and husband. She obviously loved them both very much and was a terrific and devoted wife and mother. I have never met a closer or more caring family. Carol's warm, friendly and caring personality were a gift to everyone she came into contact with. If there is anything we all can do for her family, I hope Palo Alto Online will help spread the word.

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Posted by Ian
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 8:52 am

Carol and Larry are both classic examples of thinking of others first in life. I will miss Carol's smile, her laugh, her constantly positive attitude, and her modeling gracious and loving behavior every day. I will miss seeing her at Stanford football games, as she and Larry would arrive early and save seats for her many friends in the Stanford/Palo Alto community. I will also miss the frequent laughs we shared as we cheered on Stanford. God bless you Carol, and may you rest in peace. XXOO.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2014 at 9:19 am

This is such a sad story, condolences to the family and also the friends who are grieving.

Delighted to hear the way the community is willing to help this family in this sad time. Here in Palo Alto we are a great community and it is times like this that we see just what it means to live here.

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Posted by Friend
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 9, 2014 at 10:33 am

It is hard not to feel saddened but knowing Carol she would be the first to find the positive. The positive for me is having the "Gift of Carol". Everything about Carol, her smile, her humor, her love for family had all been a gift. One that will not be forgotten but remembered for the beautiful person that she was and is in our hearts.

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Posted by Cindy
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 11:30 am

Carol was a beautiful woman inside and out. I loved her smile, her laugh and her warm spirit. Our children were in preschool together and although we didn’t see each other daily during those elementary school years, we always would have a good chat at Safeway, the farmer’s market or give big waves to each other on Louis road. I’ll miss those simple exchanges.

A favorite memory of mine is training for my first marathon and Carol (and Larry) always cheering me on when they would see me running along Louis Road.

This loss is reminding me of how precious life is and how one human being can have a tremendous impact on their family, friends and the greater community. Carol, in her delightful, sweet way has left her mark.

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Posted by family friend
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 11:44 am

Carol and her family are one of the most tangible examples of what makes Palo Alto the special community that it is. This family is a jewel; it behooves those of us who know them personally to not only be there for them at this time, but also remind ourselves that we can keep her memory alive by our individual actions as members of this community.

Like this comment
Posted by Irena
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 11:52 am

Carol had that rarest of gifts: the ability to make everyone around her feel important and valued. She took a deep and genuine interest in the people and the community around her, be it her unflagging support for Stanford football or Sharks hockey, cheering on runners training for a race (I, too, was a lucky recipient of Carol's encouragement and sage advice), or making meticulously detailed swim team banners and celebrating the large and small achievements of young swimmers at our local swim and tennis club. She was one of the kindest, gentlest, most unassuming, selfless people I have ever known, and now that she is gone, her absence leaves a gaping hole in the lives of everyone she touched. She was truly, and in every sense of the word, a class act, and will be terribly missed.

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Posted by Wonderful Woman
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2014 at 11:52 am

Carol is a product of Palo Alto and grew up here with her sister and parents who were involved in the school district and local business. Carol adored their mom and shared many wonderful traits from both her parents and the best that our Palo Alto community offers.

Carol is an inspiration for me on how to be friendly, be involved, love their family, and give to others on a daily basis. My pledge to keep her in my heart is to live more in the same way that she approached every day.

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Posted by Lucy F.
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Carol's grace, warmth and wit made my world, and that of others, a better place. Our laughs about our naughty dogs and wonderful daughters are etched in my memory. Carol was the type of person we all aspire to be with her humiity and generosity of spirit. Larry and to Melanie please know you are surrounded by people who love you and are there for you.

Like this comment
Posted by beth
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 9, 2014 at 7:44 pm

I've read all of the above comments and they all mirror so many of the thoughts and feelings I have about Carol whom, I have known since high school.
She was kind, smiling, upbeat and positive
even back then. She will always be remembered...and missed.

Like this comment
Posted by Mia
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 9, 2014 at 8:13 pm

I knew Carol through our doggie play dates on Sunday mornings. She would always listen to my stories and was a very nice person.

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Posted by friend
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2014 at 8:51 am

she was very touching to me

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Posted by o'brien's
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2014 at 4:39 pm

It is with shock and deep, deep sadness we receive this news. As everyone has said, Carol was unique and amazing in her bottomless generosity, kindness to others and truly brought so much joy to us. She was funny and really treasured her family and what was important in life. I cannot say how sad we are for Larry and Melanie. But we know she will always be with you. Someone like Carol always will be. I am so grateful that we got to enjoy her company while she was here on earth. I know you will have lots of support from the amazing community you have built for yourselves. Please know we are all thinking of you.

Like this comment
Posted by Jody Berry Miller
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Carol and I were both Pi Phis at UCSB at the same time and lived in the house. I loved Carol. We had many late night chats in our nightgowns while writing papers and eating popcorn. Carol was the sweetest person and a close sorority friend. I will miss her wonderful smile and kind nature. I am in shock to say the least. God Bless her in heaven, and bless her husband, daughter and extended family.
Jody Berry Miller

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Posted by Mary Ann Carmack
a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm

I just learned of Carol's tragic accident today when reading the Palo Alto Weekly.
I have been honored to know Carol, Larry, and Melanie as their pediatrician.
In addition to the many tributes already written about Carol, I can add that she was one of the most wonderful, caring, authentic human beings I have ever been privileged to know in my career as a pediatrician. I will always remember the day I met Larry and Carol, holding their precious daughter for her first check up. I knew immediately what wonderful parents they would be! Always so positive, gentle, caring, and enthused about life!. Over the years, it was a joy to be a part of their lives and to watch Melanie reflect the radiant qualities of her parents. My heart goes out to Larry and Melanie. Carol made the world a better place, and I am grateful to have known her.

Like this comment
Posted by Charley & Rosemarie Moore
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm

We both are so sad to learn of Carol's accident. Living nearby and being friends with her and Larry was often having a shared pizza, hiking talks, or seats at a Stanford football game. She enjoyed small and big adventures, most richly her times with her family. We miss her.

Like this comment
Posted by lahellec-le mouel
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Carol reste dans notre coeur a tout jamais.
Nous sommes une famille française, de la Bretagne qu'elle a aimée au cours de ses voyages en France, avec larry et Melanie.
Beaucoup de très beaux souvenirs resteront très vifs pour notre famille et nos amis, son sourire et sa bonne humeur toujours si communicatifs ...
Carol, we miss you !
Denis, Claudie, Gabriel, Léandre.

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Posted by Cubberley Classmate
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I remember Carol mostly as a cheer leader at Cubberley. She looked great in the gold and black kit and had the best enthusiasm and smile of all the cheer leaders. She was a senior my freshman year and was so nice to eveyone. I recall she also had a reputation of working hard and getting all A's. She was Cubberley's All American Girl.

Like this comment
Posted by Still missing Carol
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2015 at 7:43 am

As this year has rolled by, our family would like to remember Carol for all the love that she shared. She was such a positive and friendly person. We have tried to keep her alive in our hearts and welcome others in a way that she did.

We miss her smile and hugs. We know that it has been a year of adjustment for her family. Hoping that we can make each day lighter for you with our friendship.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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