Kathleen Kaster, 80, formerly of East Middlebury


VERGENNES — A lover of life and of all the natural world, Kate Kaster passed away at peace with that world on Oct. 14, 2022, a few days after celebrating her 80th birthday with loving family and friends, in her home at the Vergennes Family Care home.

Kate will be remembered by her family and her many friends as a great lover of animals of all kinds — dogs, cats, goats, and above all horses. Her love of horses was a lifelong passion. She was able to translate this passion from dream to reality when she moved as a teenager from suburban New Jersey to a farm in Massachusetts, where she soon owned several horses, set up a riding ring in a pasture near her home, and began teaching riding to neighborhood kids. Throughout her life, wherever she lived, from the farm in Massachusetts to the mountains of Colorado to the hills of Vermont, horses were a part of her family.

However, Kate was also dedicated to serving others, and horses became a fundamental part of her outreach to troubled children during her service at the Counseling Services of Addison County. She was a founding member of Equestrian Partnerships for Children, which brought troubled youth together with the calming and healing influence of horses, qualities which were so familiar to her through her lifelong association with them, the same qualities which she modeled in all her service and relationships with others.

Fundamental to Kate’s way in the world was her great love of the outdoors; she was an inexhaustible hiker, snowshoer, and cross-country skier, always with a succession of canine companions. The Robert Frost trail near her home in East Middlebury was a favorite. Emblematic of her love of nature was her photography, which she translated into beautiful greeting cards. Kate loved literature, and as a writer, worked for several years on the staff of the Aspen (Colorado) Times. Her copious, personal journals are full of her love of nature. As she noted in one of her journals, “I do so love trees!”

An active member of the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Middlebury, Kate humbly, smilingly, and quietly served as coordinator of Hospitality Services for a number of years. She was deeply nourished by the spiritual life of the Unitarian Universalist Society, a true sanctuary and source of inner peace for Kate. Her family is deeply grateful to Reverend Barnaby Feder, Abi Sessions, and all the members of the church for the friendship, love and kindness with which they have embraced Kate during her many years as a member of the congregation and especially during the last years of her illness.

The family is also profoundly grateful to the staff of the Vergennes Residential Care home (the ‘Rez’), which Kate called home for the last several years of her life after she was no longer able to live on her own. Her family would like to thank all the staff for their remarkable compassion, caring, and loving kindness in making the last stage of Kate’s life one of peace. Their generosity and selfless service truly honored the special person that Kate was and the part she played in making all the lives she touched better in so many untold ways.

Kate’s memory may be honored with donations to Vergennes Residential Care, Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, and Eddy Farm School for Horse and Riders.

All are welcome to a memorial service for Kate at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Middlebury, on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 2 p.m., followed by interment of her ashes at 4 p.m. at Prospect Cemetery in East Middlebury.

“May the Lord that loves us all hold her in the palm of his hand.” ◊

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