Community Engagement Nutrition

Extension loses beloved food and nutrition specialist Carolyn Raab

Carolyn was the “go-to” faculty member at OSU for any consumer question on food safety and food preservation.

Carolyn Raab

By Theresa Hogue

Carolyn Raab, an Oregon State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor with the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, died Thursday, Dec. 6 at 3:15 p.m., at her home. She was 64.

A graduate of UC Berkeley, UC Davis and State University, she worked for the Society for Nutrition Education before beginning her career as an Extension food and nutrition specialist for the Wyoming Agricultural Extension Service. She came to OSU in 1975, and retired in 2006. However she continued to work part-time for OSU Extension after her retirement.

“Carolyn was the “go-to” faculty member at OSU for any consumer question on food safety and food preservation,” said Sally Bowman, program leader for Extension Family and Community Health. “She had the fastest response time of any Extension faculty member who participates in Ask An Expert.”

“Carolyn took her work and life seriously and I enjoyed it when I could get a laugh and smile from her,” said Janice Gregg, an Extension faculty member. “She was constantly contributing to others and giving her skills and abilities in abundance.  Carolyn was a treasure of knowledge when asked a question, but just didn’t depend on her own memory but looked up the answer.  Only she knew where to find the answer in the files or stacks that graced her office.”

Raab was part of the team that hired Lynn Steele, an Extension faculty member, 20 years ago. Raab often helped Steele provide timely and culturally relevant food safety information for Extension programs targeting Latino families in the Metro area.

“Carolyn was a dedicated specialist believing in the true mission of Extension,” Steele said. “She had a special place in her heart for our immigrant audiences, was a down-to-earth colleague and friend to us all.”

Janice Smiley, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Coordinator, said Raab was practically a historian when it came to Extension. She could remember details no one else could. She was also a helpful and attentive editor.

“It was Carolyn who was sought out to take the last look at documents that went on to become Oregon or Pacific Northwest Extension publications.  She would offer suggestions in such a gracious way and she helped us become better writers,” Smiley said. “She was a scholar in nutrition and food safety.  She trained us well, and kept us current and up-to-date.  She answered questions that no one else could answer.  If she couldn’t find the information right away, she would say, “Give me a minute. I’ll get right back to you.” And she did, every single time.”

Nellie Oehler, a Family Community Health faculty member, worked with Raab from the time she arrived in Oregon. Together they developed the Master Food Preserver Program, which is still active today. They also worked together on a series of television programs called “Food for Later” which aired for years on PBS.

Oehler said Raab was dedicated to food safety and was an inspiration to other Extension faculty.

“I don’t know of an Extension Specialist more dedicated to OSU Extension than Carolyn,” Oehler said. “Her job was her life right up until the end.  She will be missed and I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with her and glean so much from her all these years.

Jeanne Brandt, with OSU Extension Family and Community Health, said Raab had a keen understanding of who her audience was, and was able to tailor presentations and information to a variety of different groups.

“Carolyn set the standard for what an Extension Specialist should be — the mission of OSU Extension is to bring current, research-based information to the people and Carolyn was vigilant about keeping up on emerging and important issues and providing field faculty with the background to adequately address them,” Brandt said. “She was a prolific and effective writer, preparing numerous fact sheets, news tips and news releases for use by local and state media and faculty.”

Brandt said Raab was a huge fan of peanut butter, and suggested that those who knew her should donate peanut butter to the OSU Food Bank in her memory.

Raab was a registered dietitian, and received an Award of Merit from the Oregon Dietetic Association in 2007. She also received an OSU Extended Education Award in 2005.

In addition to her work in Extension, Raab was a pianist and singer, and enjoyed creative writing.

An organ concert in her memory will be scheduled in January. Donations to continue her work may be made to the OSU Foundation – Dean’s Excellence Fund in CPHHS and indicate in the notes section that they are in memory of Carolyn Raab.