Legally blind Midtown resident lives life to fullest
By Jessica Laskey
Carol Rae Anapolsky loves a good challenge.
During her 91 years, the Midtown resident has been the only woman in a male-dominated job (more than once), owned one of the region’s largest gourmet chocolate shops, become a sought-after jewelry designer in Oregon and, more recently, learned to live independently despite being legally blind.
After graduating from McClatchy High School, Anapolsky didn’t want to go to a four-year college. Her father, a successful businessman who owned one of the area’s first home-improvement stores, had inspired her to enter the business world—but he also insisted that his only daughter take two years of classes at Sacramento City College before striking out on her own.
While attending college, Anapolsky discovered a knack for acting that stayed with her through her adulthood—she performed regularly at the Eaglet Theatre (now the Sacramento Theatre Company) and Chautauqua Playhouse.
After moving to San Francisco to try her luck auditioning, Anapolsky landed a job as a secretary, first at an ad agency and later at the San Francisco Examiner. (At the Examiner interview, she was told they wouldn’t hire a woman because the language in the all-male secretarial pool was not very “becoming.” Anapolsky stood her ground, got the position and did “one hell of a job.”)
Anapolsky eventually moved back to Sacramento to be closer to her parents and adopted a baby boy. She also started working at Wells Fargo—again the only woman in her department—where she worked for 21 years until the itch to go into business for herself came back.
“I always wanted the challenge of owning a business,” Anapolsky says. “I wanted to prove I didn’t need a college education and could learn by doing.”
Coupling her love of a challenge with her lifelong love of chocolate, Anapolsky opened gourmet chocolate shop Kaylah le Chocolatier (Kaylah is her Jewish name) at Downtown Plaza in 1984 and eventually moved to a historic building on K Street.
“If I ever bragged about anything in my life, it was that store,” says Anapolsky, who ran the shop for 10 years. “It was a place where people could hang out and feel comfortable, which made me feel like I was giving back to my community.”
After selling the store and retiring to Oregon at her husband Sylvan’s behest, Anapolsky didn’t slow down. She got involved with Soroptimist International, threw chocolate and champagne soirées, and started a new venture as a jewelry designer and gallery owner.
When she lost her husband in 2015, her son insisted she return to Sacramento. Anapolsky spent an unhappy year at Selby Ranch before taking up residence at Governor’s Terrace in Midtown, where she lives with her best friend Zoe, a 5 1/2-pound Maltese.
Around that time, Anapolsky noticed that making necklaces was getting more and more challenging—and not in a good way.
“The colors weren’t right and I had trouble stringing,” she recalls. “I kept thinking I just needed to rest my eyes, but really I was in denial. I wouldn’t accept that I couldn’t see.”
Finally, Anapolsky was referred to the Low Vision Clinic at the Society for the Blind—where she was declared legally blind. In shock, Anapolsky agreed to meet with one of the center’s occupational therapists, who helped set up a Kindle for the avid reader and enrolled Anapolsky in the Senior IMPACT program, a series of classes that teach non-visual techniques to people 55 and older experiencing vision loss. During an intensive five-day retreat, Anapolsky learned the skills she now uses to maintain an active, independent life as a thriving nonagenarian.
The Society for the Blind “gave me life again—and gave me a challenge, which is the most wonderful thing I can have,” says Anapolsky, who regularly cruises Midtown with Zoe, her white cane and a walker to visit shop owners and friends.
“If you’re blind late in life, it’s just a matter of how you decide what you’re going to do. Are you going to accept it, or sit on your booty and feel sorry for yourself? I’m not that type of person. There’s still so much life out there for us if we want to have it. Don’t look back, look forward.”
On to the next challenge.
For more information, visit societyfortheblind.org.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.