Editor’s note: My wife and I were very fond of Carol. She was a big help to Herb too.
“Carole Vernier had a smoky voice, a throaty laugh and an extra-dry wit, a combination that made her the perfect backstop for Herb Caen,” The San Francisco Chronicle writes.
“Ms. Vernier, who served as The Chronicle columnist’s assistant until his death in 1997, was found deceased in her Bush Street apartment in San Francisco this week. The cause of death was heart failure complicated by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to her sister, Darryl Cole. She was 75.
“During two stints — 1971 to 1979 and 1989 to 1997 — Ms. Vernier sat outside Caen’s office, at a desk cluttered with letters and notes that arrived by the hundreds. A cigarette was usually burning in the ashtray.
“’You have to imagine the phone ringing every 10 seconds, and there were three lines,’ said Jesse Hamlin, a former Caen legman turned Chronicle staff writer and jazz critic. ‘She’d be constantly opening mail while the phones were ringing off the hook, and Herb would be calling out from his office for her to check something that he needed right away. It was just juggling balls that never stopped.’
“Since Caen lived in the old world of telephones and typewriters, Ms. Vernier was essential in dealing with press agents and publicists who were forever trying to get their clients’ names in the column.
“At the end of the workday, Ms. Vernier could be found at the famed newspaper hangout, the M&M at Fifth and Howard streets, holding court, cigarette in one hand, “Vitamin V” in the other. Publicists would seek her out to learn whether an item had made it into the next day’s column, then they would wait for the early edition to come off the presses at 11 p.m.
“Carole Anne Vernier was born in Los Angeles and grew up all over the world, owing to her father’s job with Standard Oil. After graduating from high school in The Hague, Netherlands, she attended Stanford University, where her grandfather Chester Vernier had been a professor of law.”
The rest of the obituary is here.