Diversity describes woman’s life

Written by Lenore Rutherford, The Union Democrat January 17, 2013 08:41 am

Caroline Schirato packed a lifetime of memories into her first 38 years. 

She’s been a cheerleader, boot camp recruit, electrician, world traveler, trade show manager, music festival promoter, wife, mom, and now, an events and alumni coordinator at Sierra Waldorf School near Jamestown.

 

She and her husband, Peter Livanos, live in one of Angels Camp’s historic Main Street homes with their two sons, Trent, 6, and Bennett, 9, both of whom attend Sierra Waldorf School.

Schirato was born in Hayward and raised in Pleasanton. Twelve days after graduating from Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, where she was a varsity cheerleader, she left for Orlando, Fla., to start U.S. Navy boot camp.

“I had always envisioned myself around the great naval ships,” she said. “I guess you would say it was my calling, but I had no real understanding of the responsibility that went with raising my right hand and taking the oath.”

She didn’t know it then, but she was part of an experiment during boot camp to find out if men and women could train together. At night, the men slept in one barracks, and the women slept in another, but they spent the rest of the time training together. 

At 18, she was one of the youngest recruits, but she managed to be selected as company yeoman and graduated as an E-2 instead of E-1, an advanced rate, because of being chosen as part of the leadership team.

From there, she went on to the Naval Training Center in San Diego for six months of training as an electrician. She was the only female in a class of 24.

She asked to go overseas and ended up being an electrician aboard the sub tender USS Simon Lake A533 for three years in Italy, from the age of 19 in 1993 to age 22 in 1996.

Because of government cutbacks during those years, they served all kinds of ships all over the Mediterranean.

“I was lucky to have served during peacetime,” she said. “It was at the end of the Gulf War. We provided some support for Bosnia, but mainly we maintained the fleet in peacetime. That got me to Turkey, Naples, France, Crete, Israel, and the Rock of Gibraltar.” 

She said Gibraltar was one of her favorite places. “There were miles of tunnels, monkeys everywhere, and it was a lively, fun place,” she said. “I would love to go back. Not with kids, of course.”

She loved to travel, so she took advantage of a three-day trip to Paris and went skiing for the first time in her life in Germany.

She spent four years of active service in the Navy, and two years in the U.S. Naval Reserves in Alameda, leaving the Navy as a petty officer third class.

During her last year in the Navy, her boyfriend, who she met while both served on the USS Simon Lake A533, was in Iceland. She went to great lengths to see him there, only to find he was seeing someone else. 

“It was the best dump story ever,” she said. “How many people get dumped and stranded in Iceland?”

When she returned to her parents’ home in Pleasanton to finish her two-week leave, she found out her house in Italy had been burglarized and everything she owned there was gone.

“It didn’t matter too much, though,” she said. “I didn’t leave much there of value.”

She said that in addition to giving her a great story to tell, she is grateful that things did not work out between her and her ex-boyfriend. 

It was one of the reasons she decided not to re-enlist in the Navy. Instead, she applied to Las Positas College in Livermore and got a job as a receptionist for Applied Business Telecommunications. 

Within two years she was the company’s marketing manager and within three years, she had become the conference manager.

The company eventually became owned by Advancestar Technology Solutions, and she did home trade shows for that company until 2003.

During the same years, she met her future husband, Peter Livanos, at the Cadillac Ranch Saloon in Pleasanton. 

“He was a good two-stepper,” she said, “and he said I was a good dancer. Our first date was at the Livermore Rodeo, and three years later, in 1999, we were married.”

Livanos had been a landscaper in Castro Valley since 1994. They moved to Angels Camp in 2000 after his father asked him to landscape a second home in Calaveras County for him, and moved the business, as well.

They fell in love with their home, which was a Sears, Roebuck & Co. kit home built in 1927 by Frank Crespi, a former Calaveras County supervisor.

“It’s a treasure,” she said. “We have added to it, but we kept the integrity of the original home.”

 She kept working on Advancestar trade shows, telecommuting from Angels Camp for three years, until after their first son was born and she couldn’t face leaving him to fly 100,000 miles a year any more.

Her most memorable experience working for Advancestar was in March 2002, when she was able to get New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to give what she recalls as his first public speaking engagement since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

After leaving Advancestar, she was a stay-at-home mom for 18 months until meeting Randy Hanvelt, who was president of the Bear Valley Music Festival at the time. He convinced her to run the festival in 2005.

Her second son was born at home in 2007, but he wasn’t the first child born in the house. It turned out that Frank and Irene Crespi had a daughter born there on Nov. 3, 1934.

In the meantime, they didn’t know about Sierra Waldorf School except for noticing that it was a cute little country school they sometimes passed on Rawhide Road, until celebrating their wedding anniversary at Black Oak Casino’s Seven Sisters Restaurant in Tuolumne.

There, an Italian waiter, whose children attended the school and whose wife worked there, suggested they stop by and take a tour. They did, and the decision was made to enroll their two sons. 

They were active parents at the school until she was offered a job there in 2009, and she has worked there every since.

“I loved the music festival,” she said, “but if you think about it, my schedule was the exact opposite of my boys’. I was working all summer, when they were home, and I was off during the winter, when they were in school.”

She is still on the board of directors of the Bear Valley Music Festival and said one of her favorite memories is being a guest conductor at the festival in the summer of 2011.

As if their lives aren’t full enough already, the family also fosters litters of kittens for the Calaveras Humane Society and finds homes for them. They are also faithful fans of the San Francisco 49ers, holding season tickets to their football games. 

“We have been taking the boys to the games since they were in utero,” she said. 

They also love going to Bear Valley and love traveling in general, she said.

Schirato said she has many great memories, and among them are her years in the military.

“I enjoyed every minute of it and would do it again in a minute,” she said. “I have a great deal of respect for those who choose to serve their country, and I try to pass that down to my boys.”

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