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Passenger: Lauren Grandcolas

Sunday, October 28, 2001

On her 30 th birthday, Lauren Grandcolas made sure she got the gift she really wanted. Telling no one until the day before, Grandcolas arranged for herself and her husband, Jack, to leap out of a plane and parachute to the Napa Valley below. She knew Jack and the rest of her family might try to talk her out of her long-anticipated foray into skydiving, so she simply set it up herself.

Lauren Grandcolas
dot.gifAdvertising sales consultant, Good Housekeeping magazine, 38, San Rafael, Calif.
Husband, Jack
She was returning home from her grandmother's funeral in New Jersey

"I took her out there but I wasn't going to do it," Jack Grandcolas said. "But there was this petite, size-2 gal with a heart the size of Texas. What choice did I have?"

A videotape shot during the jump captured the elated grin found so often on her face when she mastered something challenging. Fit and fearless, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, 38, of San Rafael, Calif., spent her life seeking out new skills, sports and situations, and helping other women do the same.

Grandcolas was born in Bloomington, Ind., and lived on the East Coast as a child, but attended high school in Houston, Texas. She met her husband while both attended the University of Texas at Austin.

After graduation, Grandcolas worked as a marketing executive for a law firm and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She then became an advertising sales consultant for Good Housekeeping magazine while researching and writing a non-fiction book to help women boost their self-esteem.

Devoted to fitness and the outdoors, Grandcolas hiked, jogged, kayaked and zipped around her neighborhood on in-line skates. She kept up with her sisters and wide circle of friends by phone daily, once telephoning moments before she underwent surgery to ask an actor friend about an audition. She took classes in cooking, gardening, scuba-diving and wine appreciation

Through her book, Grandcolas intended to help other women derive the same joy she'd found tackling and mastering new pursuits. The unfinished book, which had attracted a publisher's interest, borrowed from the Girl Scouts of America practice of awarding badges for achievement.

"She made a point to do things that were good for her, and she thought she could extend what she'd learned to help other adult women gain confidence," her husband said. "Now her sister and I will fulfill her dream by completing the book.

"There's no firm title, but somehow she'll let us know what it should be when it comes time."

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