Obituary: Richard William “Rick” Carbin, 1939-2021 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Richard William “Rick” Carbin, 1939-2021

First president of the Vermont Land Trust was instrumental in saving the Barnard General Store

Published July 26, 2021 at 6:05 a.m.
Updated July 27, 2021 at 10:54 a.m.

  • Courtesy Photo
  • Rick Carbin

Rick Carbin died at his home in Barnard, Vt., on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, surrounded by family. Rick was born in Jersey City, N.J., on September 17, 1939, to Margaret Louise (Hull) and Edward Francis Carbin, the second of two sons. He was predeceased by both parents and his older brother, Edward.

Rick graduated from Tenafly High School in New Jersey in 1957. After a year of attending William and Mary College, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He attended the Army Language School in Monterey, Calif., where he learned Russian, before reporting to West Germany as a translator. During his tour in Germany, he met Ursula Crass, and they were married upon returning to the U.S., in 1961. Rick and Ursula had two children: Gregory, born in 1962, and Deborah, born in 1963. During this busy time of raising a young family, Rick returned to school and graduated with a BA in international relations from Rutgers University in 1964. He took a position with the Rutgers University Scheduling and Space Utilization Department, where, by the late 1960s, he became the youngest director of a university department and oversaw the first computerized scheduling system at Rutgers.

Rick moved with his family to Vermont in 1973. He worked for the Upper Valley Area Agency on Aging before becoming executive director of the Ottauqueechee Regional Planning Commission in 1975. He founded the Ottauquechee Regional Land Trust in 1977, shortly thereafter becoming the first president of the Vermont Land Trust, in 1977.

Rick cared about the connections between land and people. His early innovative efforts with the Planning Commission contributed to the establishment of low-income Mellishwood Housing for elderly residents, in Woodstock, in the mid-1970s. He was a key leader in the successful effort to enact legislation establishing the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund in 1987, which led to rapid acceleration of both land conservation and affordable housing programs throughout the state.

After retiring from the Vermont Land Trust in 1990, Rick worked a year with the Countryside Institute, funded through the Orton Family Foundation (Vermont Country Store). He moved a short distance down the road from the original family homestead to a smaller home site in 1995. He met Calee Simpson in 1998, and she became a close companion and neighbor. Calee cared for Rick as he became ill with cancer.

Despite his illness, Rick enjoyed working part time as an interpretive guide at the Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock into his 80th year. A crowning achievement in community action and preservation for Rick came when he rallied a local citizens' group around saving the Barnard General Store from permanent closure in 2012. His innate ability to see ways forward when other avenues were closed culminated in the successful purchase of the Barnard General Store by the newly formed non-profit Barnard Community Trust. The subsequent transfer of the store’s management to new ownership in recent years has been a success and allowed this beautiful landmark at the center of a small town to reopen for business. Thus, the very heart of a rural Vermont community continues to beat — preserved, protected and proud — in part due to Rick’s vision and his love for the town he called home for nearly 50 years.

Rick is survived by his first wife, Ursula; second wife, Sharleen; son and daughter-in-law, Gregory and Lisa; daughter, Deborah; and longtime friend and partner, Calee. Grandchildren include Morriah (Bryan), Jonathan (Grace) and Christopher (Sylvia).

Donations in Rick’s memory can be made to the Vermont Land Trust, In honor of his wishes, no service is planned. However, a remembrance party for family and acquaintances will occur at a later date. An online guestbook can be found at

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