April 11, 1936 – January 27, 2022
Vivian Dorothy Stein passed away on January 27 after a long and fruitful life. Vivian was born in the small western Minnesota farming community of Morris to George and Rosella Aanerud on April 11, 1936. Her ancestors had settled the nearby communities on the prairie when they emigrated from Norway and Sweden in the late 1800’s. She was very proud of her Scandinavian heritage. She spent her childhood with her younger sister Virginia living in the small towns that served the farming community. Social life revolved around visits to the family farms and many relatives in the area. She learned to play the accordion and participated in Girl Scouts.
She graduated from Morris High School in 1954 and set off for the big city to attend St. Cloud State Teachers College where she met “her sailor”, John Stein. They were married on August 11, 1956 and enjoyed 64 years of marriage before John’s passing in 2020. During those early years of marriage, they moved around with their young son, Jimmy, while John sought permanent employment. Vivian helped support the family by teaching elementary school wherever they landed. John found a job with the Social Security Administration and soon followed his dream of coming to California. She later recalled, “John joined the ranks of the federal civil service and thus began our adventure. In the first 11 years of marriage, we moved 13 times. We became modern nomads.”
Although it was hard for her to leave everything she had known and all her family in Minnesota, she embraced the challenge. In California, she was a typical early 60’s homemaker. She volunteered with the Girl Scouts even before her daughter Susan was born in 1963. She made new friends including life-long friends Lee and Irene Gray and Pat and Judy Felker. Shortly after settling in Alamo in 1971, she became a modern career woman. She got a job with the Social Security Administration and worked there for 21 years before retiring in 1995.
In 1980, two wonderful things happened in her life that set the course for the next forty years. Vivian became a Catholic and then joined the newly formed Young Ladies Institute (YLI), Our Lady of the Valley #236, at St. Isidore Church in Danville. She served her institute after her initiation by taking positions of responsibility every year. She served as local chapter president and recording secretary multiple times.
After ten years, she took a leap of faith and ran for national office, winning one of the seats for Grand Director. She eventually won YLI’s highest office, Grand President, in 2000. During her year as Grand President, she visited all of the institutes and made many friends and memories. Her favorite was traveling to Hawaii to visit their institutes and partake in the Aloha spirit. YLI gave her the opportunity to travel as there was always an annual trip planned. She enjoyed three cruises with her good friend Anita. Following her time as Grand President, she became the Grand Treasurer of YLI. She was proud of her efforts to modernize a manual accounting system by converting it to Quickbooks software.
In addition to her service to Young Ladies Institute, Vivian liked her flowers in the yard, parties with interesting people, trips with her daughter Susan, especially to Amarillo to visit granddaughter Claire, gardening with her son Jim and anything to do with a family get together. Most of all, she liked being “mom” not just to her kids but to other friends and family. Susan’s friend Shelly Simmons used to call her “other mother”, Patti Stein called her mom and she was mom-away-from home to her niece Roxanne Oulman.
She is survived by her sister Virginia of Venice, FL, son James (Patti) of Alameda, CA and daughter Susan (Robert) of Danville, CA, grandchildren Aria, Kevin and Claire and great granddaughter Hannah. She was preceded in death by her husband John, parents George and Rosella and her brothers Richard and Roger.
The funeral mass will be held on Tuesday, February 8 at 10:30 am at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Danville. Interment will immediately follow the mass in the Chapel at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Lafayette.
When Vivian was Grand President of the YLI in 2000-2001, her program was “Whatsoever You Do”, based on Matthew 25:35-36. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in her name may be made to the charity of your choice that “feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, clothes the naked, welcomes the stranger, visits the imprisoned, cares for the sick or shelters the homeless.”
Published by East Bay Times on Feb. 4, 2022.