Kathleen Mary Caren, who for many years worked tirelessly with the people of Passaic County to preserve and improve community open space, died Sunday, July 19, 2020, at the Hackensack University Medical Center. She was 64 years old.
Her brother Thomas Caren reports the cause as complications related to her fight with cancer.
Kathleen was the Passaic County Open Space Coordinator. In her 16 years working for Passaic County, she made an indelible mark by improving and, in many cases, permanently preserving local natural landscapes.
“She brought joy and passion to her job and forged wonderful, authentic connections with the many people and groups she got to work with — from community gardeners and the churches and nonprofits that hosted them, to veterans improving a memorial to the fallen, to local officials building a playground or preserving rare farmland,” said John Bartlett, Passaic County Freeholder Director.
A resident of the Mountain Springs community of West Milford, she was loved deeply by her neighbors and friends. She was a gifted gardener and rescuer of animals. Her log cabin and surrounding land was an intricate palette of paths, native plants and flowers, a pond and lots of living creatures.
“Aunt Kathleen overflowed with love and that extended to every living thing around her,” said her niece, Jessica Kohnen of Baltimore.
Kathleen was acclaimed throughout Passaic County “as a defender of the environment, an advocate for those less fortunate, an upbeat voice of hope to those in despair, and so much more to so many others,” according to Bruce James, Passaic County Freeholder.
Kathleen, known to many as Kate, was born and raised in Ridgewood, attended Ridgewood High School and graduated from William Paterson University. Her early career was in publishing in New York where she worked on the production side of publications ranging from the Village Voice to Family Circle. She brought an artistic sensibility to everything she did and had a passion for music and the arts.
Kathleen is survived by her mother Florence Driscoll, brother Thomas Caren and sister-in-law Kathy of Warwick, as well as stepbrother Michael Driscoll, stepsister Sharon Schaible, stepbrothers Steven Ovens and David Ovens, and stepsisters Marge Kreider and Pamela Ovens Wolf.
She also leaves many loving nieces and nephews, more than a few of whom refer to Kathleen as their favorite aunt.
More information about memorial services and opportunities to support a memorial fund are available at KathleenCaren.com.