Carol Ceres
1964 - 2021

Ceres, Carol (Nelson)

PETALUMA, Calif. - Carol (Nelson) Ceres was born in Madison, Wis., to Frances and William Nelson. She lived her childhood on Nakoma Road, a Chippewa word which means "I do as I promise" and is now the namesake of her son, who was always by her side. Her sister and deepest confidant remembers she was often "artist of the week" at Henry David Thoreau Elementary School, as well as a leader on the Safety Patrol, a juxtaposition which added to her mystique throughout her life: the artistic, rebellious side rivaled only by the side that was adored and respected by authority, as she believed in providing a responsible, higher community service.

She was celebrated throughout her life for her artwork, which was deeply supported and encouraged by her loving mother. She attended the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago and after moving to San Francisco in the early 1990s, she became a member of City Art Gallery, regularly showing around town in eclectic venues with her best friend, Lisa Farrell-Dempsey. Carol will always be remembered for her stunning, multi-dimensional art, her wry and side-splitting humor, her phenomenal dinner parties as chef-extraordinaire, and her deep commitment to her community, her family, and family values.

She met her wife, Brittany Brown Ceres, in 1998 in San Francisco, at what was the phenomenon of Beach Blanket Babylon, and they were #11 in line when Mayor Gavin Newson announced gay marriage was legalized in February 2004. They were later married with family and friends surrounded that August and again following the legal trends in 2008. They chose the family name Ceres, in reference to the bounty each season bestowed, dedicated to growing together. They spent a decade in Oakland with their Lake Neighbors, where they had two children, Rhone Nakoma (born 2011) and Rakaia Aroha (born 2013), both named after rivers and indigenous guidance, reminding us to go with the flow and be in nature. Together, they moved to West Petaluma in 2017, attending Grant Elementary and finding an instant community through Carol's unique magnetism, as well as art and garden contributions.

Carol, who went by Coco in the last decade of her life, passed away on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in her Petaluma home, surrounded by her family, just 20 days after being surprisingly diagnosed with widespread cancer of an unknown primary. She is survived by her wife and children; her mother, Frances Nelson; her sister, Susan Willis and family, Tom, Jackson, Josephine and Ike Willis; her brother, Stephen Nelson; her father and his wife, William Nelson and Susan Steingass; her parents-in-law, Roger and Jennifer Brown; her brother-in-law and co-conspirator on many creative ventures, Nathan Brown and family. Amy, Pendan and Sagan Brown; and cousins. Sarah (and Matt), Ellen, Corwin and Bryson Bishop-Clark, and Mark, Stephanie, Riley and Samuel Bishop. She is preceded in death by her aunt, Joy Wolff; and cousins, Bobby, Karen and Craig, all of Maplewood, Mo.

A community ritual and celebration of her life will be held in their Petaluma yard, in accordance with the family's earth-based faith, when it is appropriate to do so in these complex times. The family plans to create tribute spaces in nature in both Petaluma and Madison in her honor and loving memory.

Published by on Jan. 24, 2021.
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24 Entries
Coco was one of the brightest and most inventive people I have ever known. We were good friends for many years, when I knew her as Carol. We shared a love of art, movies, and music. I´ve kept and treasure artwork and mixtapes she sent me long ago. It was shocking to learn of the loss. Deepest condolences to Brittany and their children, to Fran and Susan, and all the people she meant so much to. She will always be in my heart and thoughts - with her humor and her smile.
July 5, 2021
Patty and Barb
February 17, 2021
Mai Ton, Peter Pai & Emma Pai
February 15, 2021
Woodruff Sawyer
February 12, 2021
Friends at Ariel Investments
February 4, 2021
My deepest sympathy to Carol´s family and loved ones. I have extremely fond memories of times spent with Carol during high school and later as roommates in Chicago. We didn´t keep in touch but I think of her often. She was one of the most creative people I have ever met. And has been an inspiration to me to this day. I have attached one of the drawings she gave me, or secretly taped to my sketchbook and I loved it so much I left it there.
Lee A. Sippola
February 2, 2021
Carol was a wonderful, wonderful human being and the speed of her leaving us is unfathomable. Much love to her family who loved her beyond imagining. My heart is breaking for you. Sending strength, tight hugs and much, much love.
February 1, 2021
I grew up with Carol in Nakoma and spent many years hanging out with her. I lost touch after high school but the obituary definitely captures the person I knew. My sympathy to her family and friends

Linda Roby Meier
Linda Roby Meier
January 31, 2021
Nevin Cindy Hahn
January 23, 2021
Becky Cotton
January 21, 2021
Christine Cali
January 17, 2021
With deep condolences, prayers and love to you all.

Smith-Meoli Family
Lenice & Boys
January 16, 2021
Carol, I didn't know you well, but you were a member of the Beach Blanket Babylon family and for that I love you. Rest in peace. John Camajani
John F. Camajani
January 15, 2021
Andrea & Octavio Jara
January 14, 2021
Brittany, I was so lucky to meet Carol several times and to enjoy the laughter and sunshine of the Russian River with you both and the kids. I love you.
January 14, 2021
The Quin Family
January 14, 2021
Love, Suzie
January 14, 2021
Peggy and Phil Pizzo
January 14, 2021
Though I never met Coco, this obituary exquisitely expresses her incredible spirit. Brittany, sending you and the kids so much love. May her eternal Love surround you 3, always.
Kate StAmand
January 14, 2021
Pablo, Tara, Kyla and Max
January 13, 2021
Carol/Coco was my dear friend in high school, who accompanied me on many adventures and inspired me in so many ways! We both joined the Mendota Rowing Club and rowed together in a boat at the junior nationals in Indianapolis in our senior year. I will never forget trying to outrun our long suffering coach in his motor boat and loudly referring to the buoy lane markers as "David Buoy". Carol was truly one of the most creative, hilarious, and unique individuals I have ever met. She personified the term "cool" in the best of ways! I was so happy to connect with her again virtually via facebook in the last couple years and to follow her adventures again, this time with family! I am comforted to know that she found her loving wife and partner in this life and was surrounded by her wonderful children and family when she passed. The world will not be the same without you Carol! Godspeed!
Molly Nepokroeff
January 13, 2021
I had such a great time getting to know you at City Art Gallery. You were always so supportive of my work and you were great fun to hang around with. I’ll always look back on those times fondly. You will be greatly missed.
Russell Ryan
January 13, 2021
She was so funny, so kind. I was always happy to see her at the preschool our kids went to. When David Bowie passed, we bonded over our fandom of him..which really hit extra hard when she passed on his birthday. I'm not saying this right, but please know she was an incredible spirit. Lots of love to Brittany, Nokki, and Rakia.
Sara Rowley
January 13, 2021
I can't believe you are no longer with us. We thought we were going to have wheelchair races like Patsy and Edina. I can still hear your voice in my head coaching me, especially during this difficult time of grieving. You are an amazing friend, your light and insight will be with me always. I love you Coco ♥
Lisa Farrell Dempsey
January 13, 2021
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