Obituary: Nancy Harper Carsten

Nancy Harper Carsten

Nancy Harper Carsten died on the morning of Thursday, April 21, surrounded by her loved ones at her home in Malibu. 

Carsten was born on April 29, 1930, and raised in Oklahoma City, Okla. She later moved to Bel Air where she met her husband, Paul Carsten. They were married 32 years and had five children — Cathy Salenger, Philip Carsten, Nancy Hirsch, Freddie Carsten and Heather Brand. She had eight grandchildren and three great-granddaughters. She and Paul raised their family in Malibu starting in 1954 — evacuating during the many fires was part of the adventure in their lives. She was a 4H leader and who had a house and yard full of children and animals, including show chickens, show rabbits, an occasional horse, cats and dogs.

“Nancy Carsten was a dynamic woman,” Heather wrote. “She had suffered loss in her life, but she was not to be defeated. She was strong and brave and always looking forward — accepting with an open heart and eager curiosity whatever lay ahead.”

Carsten, also known as Mrs. C, taught for 40 years. She often sang and danced with students to enliven ancient history class or any of the other classes she taught. She was an avid gardener, determined to make her Malibu gardens into a proper English garden.

“Nancy, Mom, Grammie, Grandmama, Mrs. C. or whatever the name will be sorely missed,” Heather said. “Lives were made better by her guidance, her faith that everything would work out and her love. Our hearts are fuller, our eyes are clearer, our minds sharper and our laughter is richer for having known and loved her.”

There will be no services. 

“My mom would want you to just do what you love, read good books and trust that things work out,” Heather said.