Carol Petrich Kalapus ’51

Since Carol Petrich Kalapus ’51 turned 94 in May, she’s had to slow down a bit. For her, that means just a daily ride on her three-wheel bicycle along the Tacoma waterfront, regular swims in her pool, and kayaking in lakes instead of in the Puget Sound as she used to.

Kalapus majored in recreation at the then-College of Puget Sound, where she met her future husband. A notice in The Trail at the time said that “Pi Phi Carol Sue Petrich passed chocolates last week to announce her engagement to Len Kalapus.” She and Kalapus ’51, a star football player turned elementary school principal, were married for 67 years until his death in 2018. Kalapus still lives on her own at the home on 10 acres just outside of Tacoma where she’s lived for the past 68 years and she and Leonard raised their three children.

Carol Petrich Kalapus ’51 on her adult trike.

Kalapus has always been active and she has the trophies to prove it—about 100 of them, some for showing horses, some for playing tennis. There was no women’s tennis team when she was in college, but she did play one match on the men’s team. (Another school had shown up with a woman on their team, so the boys recruited Carol to play against her.) She played recreationally after college. Then there are the fair ribbons she’s won for her landscape paintings—paintings that can be found all over the house.

She got into kayaking at 75, when her children were taking it up. Kalapus enjoyed the solitude on the water, and explored the vast majority of the shoreline of the South Sound that way. Four years ago, Kalapus took her beloved kayak to eastern Washington for a solo trip. “I paddled around different lakes and camped out in my van and had a good time,” she says. These days she needs help getting into and out of the boat. One day this summer, her grandkids drove her to a lake, helped her into the kayak, and came three hours later to help her get out again. “Beautiful paddle,” she said. “Came home and rested, then swam for half an hour.”

Though she claims this is a slowed-down life, she seems to relish rigging up ways to keep things moving at her pace, like the special car rack she’s installed for her tricycle and her kayak, and the pulley system she uses to open and close her swimming pool cover. “I enjoy my own company,” she says. Which is probably a good thing, as not many people of any age could keep up with the likes of Carol.