Obituary: Karin Caldwell, 1952-2019 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Karin Caldwell, 1952-2019

Starksboro back-to-the-lander was a hardworking ‘free spirit’

Karin Caldwell
  • Karin Caldwell

On August 10, 2019, Karin Ann Caldwell passed after living with lung cancer for a year and a half. She had beautiful strong strides, positive therapies and months that came to a quiet standstill. Every day she braved this extremely difficult territory with faith and courage.

Karin was born in Indiana, Pa., on November 30, 1952, to Helen Pike and Drexell Caldwell. She attended high school in Indiana and studied health and physical education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

In the early ’70s, she moved to Vermont and became part of the Touchstone community in Starksboro. Days were spent trout fishing, mothering tomcats and growing food. The 20-plus cooperative members built homes, co-raised kids and shared wisdom over decades. Karin had built her first house there with her partner by age 26.

In the ’80s, her free spirit led her to Negril, Jamaica, where she met her former husband, Joseph Allen. The two relocated to Starksboro and had two daughters, Mattie and Lilli Allen. Karin became a hardworking single mother, always able to create something from nothing with poise and grace.

Karin loved supporting her community, refurbishing antiques and gardening. In her last 20 years, she ran her own business, Roots North Landscaping, designing beautiful gardens throughout Vermont and cultivating lasting friendships. While working, she talked politics and recipes and sang long-past tunes over big blooms with her close friend, Kathleen (Cooter) Bushey.

Karin often put her life on hold to preserve and empower the freedoms of others. She rallied behind people’s rights: women’s, LGBQT and civil rights; immigration issues; and Planned Parenthood. She served on the board for the John Graham Shelter in Vergennes, volunteered at food shelves and helped with community events at Saint Peters Catholic Church.

Karin had a generosity of spirit and love for family. She was mischievous and fun to be with, while still hardworking, independent and proud. Karin showed us how to love endlessly, knowing that cancer affects only our physical lives, while the love she gave extends way beyond its bounds.

She is survived by her daughters, Lillian Rose and Mattie Star Allen; her brothers, Mark and Greg Caldwell, and their families; and many close friends. The family invites everyone to join on September 6 at 11 a.m. for a mass celebrating her life at Saint Peters Catholic Church, 85 S. Maple St., Vergennes, VT 05491. A reception will follow.

Karin donated her body to the University of Vermont Medical Center. In lieu of flowers, gifts in Karin’s memory can be made to UVM Home Health and Hospice, Vergennes' John Graham Shelter or the HOPE food shelf in Middlebury.

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