Carlstead was born in Quincy, Illinois, to Milton John and Marie Louise Braxmeier. She moved to California in 1957, where she met her husband, Robert, while working at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company. The couple settled in Palo Alto, where they raised three children and she carved out a career as a research contracts administrator at Stanford University.
Prior to moving to California, Carlstead received a bachelor's degree in history from Quincy University in 1951. After graduation, she worked as a hostess on the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad (GM&O), traveling routes between Mobile and Chicago. She loved to share humorous stories about meeting famous celebrities, baseball players and unusual incidents on board.
She later received a master's degree in education from Marquette University in 1955 and taught high school in the Milwaukee area.
After her retirement from Stanford in 1997, she became a docent at Filoli in Woodside, sharing her love of art, history and gardening with visitors. She and her husband also spent much time traveling the world, touring Europe and visiting historic sites and battlefields.
Carlstead is survived by her husband of 58 years, Robert Carlstead; and two daughters, Martha Carlstead of Seattle and Carrie Carlstead of Mountlake Terrace, Washington. She was preceded in death by her son, William Carlstead in 1997.
Memorial services have been held, and a private burial took place at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos.
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