Carmel Valley is home to royalty as local attorney Carolyn Kirner-Schmidt has recently been crowed Mrs. San Diego 2016. Kirner-Schmidt will next compete in the Mrs. California Pageant in June 2017 in Palm Springs. If she wins, she will go on to the Mrs. America Pageant in Las Vegas.
A proud native San Diegan, Kirner-Schmidt was born in Point Loma and her father, Gary Kirner, played for the San Diego Chargers in the 1960s.
“I’m really looking forward to Mrs. California because I love San Diego and I love representing the city,” Kirner-Schmidt said. “I’m really glad that I’m able to do this.”
Kirner-Schmidt had entered pageants when she was younger but hadn’t done one since her early 20s. She was encouraged to go for Mrs. San Diego by her husband, Chuck. While the Mrs. San Diego pageant was mostly questions and interviews, Mrs. California Pageant will be more elaborate, with a swimsuit and formal competition as well as the interview process. The contestants also have to decorate a mask that represents who they are.
Kirner-Schmidt received her Mrs. San Diego sash and crown on Oct. 21 and since then has enjoyed representing the city at various local events. She had the opportunity to judge the Oceanside Heritage Festival’s chili cook-off and was part of the Village of Pacific Highlands Ranch’s grand opening celebration on Nov. 5, helping to give away hundreds of prizes, including a brand new bike.
Kirner-Schmidt was on the field on Nov. 13 for the Chargers Alumni Weekend celebration, along with her father. Her father showed off Mrs. San Diego to former teammates such as Ron Mix and Speedy Duncan.
As Mrs. San Diego, she is hoping to make several visits to Rady Children’s Hospital and is collecting children’s books now to donate.
Kirner-Schmidt describes herself as a “country girl,” her childhood reflects the less developed San Diego, raising pigs, cows and horses. She graduated from San Pasqual High School and San Diego State University.
Kirner-Schmidt has lived in Carmel Valley for 16 years and before that she lived in Rancho Santa Fe. She used to work as a paramedic but after she divorced her first husband, she made a big decision to go to law school and become a lawyer. It was a scary decision for the-then single mom of three but she has able to get a community service scholarship to Trinity Law School in Santa Ana.
Going back to school wasn’t always easy — she often traveled to Santa Ana with her children in tow and her youngest slept under her desk in class. She took her computer everywhere and multi-tasked, reading homework assignments and writing essays while her kids participated in baseball, cheer and Boy Scouts — the laptop even came along on a Scouts camping trip.
Kirner-Schmidt said she later apologized to her children for their hectic childhood. Her children, two of them college graduates and one still in college, told her they did not mind and that they admired the example she set of a strong work ethic and love for education.
She has had her own law practice in Carmel Valley for the last eight years.
“Going through that and being able to succeed, I think that I can encourage other women to do the same,” Kirner-Schmidt said. “Sometimes my clients are scared and confused and I can tell them ‘I’ve been there.’ I tell them ‘If you can do it, I say do it.’”
The mother of three also has a bonus son from her marriage to Schmidt and is a newly-minted grandmother.
She is looking forward to picking out her formal gown and her swimsuit for June’s competition and lets herself dream about the four-tiered Mrs. California crown, modeled after Princess Diana’s.
“I’m super excited,” Kirner-Schmidt said. “I would love to win Mrs. California.”