Carol M. Kaelin

Carol M. Kaelin

GUILDERLAND — A woman with a quick wit and indomitable spirit, Carol M. Kaelin could make words sing.

She and her husband raised their three children to be independent thinkers as he developed programs to help society’s marginalized citizens get jobs and she wrote stories on local news and sports that made a difference in the community.

“She was very witty and had a great sense of humor,” said her older son, Eric Dubowsky. “She was incredibly caring. She was very confident of her decisions and she made you know it.”

He also said, “She wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Ms. Kaelin died on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. She was 62.

She was born in Kew Gardens, N.Y. in 1950, the daughter of a railroad conductor and a homemaker.

“Her parents were born in the early 1900s,” said her son. “They died when she was young — 13 years old — and she went to live with her sister…It was a big family.” Her sister was raising her family of 10 children on Long Island, where Ms. Kaelin spent her junior and senior years of high school after having spent her sophomore year at a boarding school.

After going to Haupauge High School, Ms. Kaelin graduated in 1973 from the State University of New York College at New Paltz with a degree in theater arts.

She then moved to New York City to pursue an acting career.

“Carol was a child and long-time resident of New York City, a city she loved for its character and culture,” her family wrote in a tribute. “She loved the sights and the sounds, and the politics,” added her son.

Ms. Kaelin worked as a waitress while she auditioned, but never got the big break.

Always good at math, she became a bookkeeper, working at a market-researching firm for a year.

Then she spent 11 years working for American Talent International, a rock-and-roll booking agency, which handled hard-rock bands like AC/DC and singers ranging from heavy metal vocalist Ozzy Osbourne to folk and country rock singer Neil Young. Ms. Kaelin rose from bookkeeper to chief financial officer.

“She had memorabilia from different rock bands, which was pretty cool,” said her son.

During those years, Ms. Kaelin met Hy Dubowsky, who was to become her husband.

“They met by chance. They loved talking politics and life. They were always very passionate,” said Eric Dubowsky.

They married in 1979 and moved to Brooklyn where their first son, Eric, was born in 1981. Dr. Dubowsky was working as a comptroller for New York City when their second son, Ryan, was born in 1989. The family decided to move upstate in search of good public schools and settled in Guilderland. Their daughter, Margaret Frances, was born in 1991, completing the family.

“She was a wonderful mother,” said Eric Dubowsky. “She always tried to make you think outside the box.”

He recalled how, when he was 10, Ms. Kaelin helped him with a science project on genetics. “The idea was to figure out what my sister, who was still in my Mom’s stomach, would look like,” he said. Looking at relatives on both sides of the family, he worked out the probability for such characteristics as the color of her hair or her eyes.

“She was always there for us,” he said.

Ms. Kaelin had many interests and abilities. “She was the fastest reader I’ve ever known,” said her son. When she was writing reviews, he said, “She’d read a book in an hour.”

Another passion was history. “She loved the history of Europe,” said her son. She had traveled in Europe and was interested in figuring out her ancestry. “She could list the English monarchs for 400 years straight,” said Mr. Dubowsky.

Ms. Kaelin wrote for The Altamont Enterprise, and also took photographs, for a decade, starting in the mid-1990s. (See related commentary.)  “She absolutely loved her time at The Enterprise,” said her son.

Ms. Kaelin was honored with a number of statewide awards for her work, which included environmental coverage and sports writing.

She had started writing in 1986 at the age of 35. Her first work was a 100,000-word novel, a family saga, completed in three weeks. The agent who rejected the book told her she needed to find a market so she turned to writing romances and was still writing them when she began reporting for The Enterprise.  She said she liked the local weekly because she thought it told the truth.

Ms. Kaelin and her husband were active in the school and community. Dr. Dubowsky, who worked for the state’s labor department, held a seat on the Guilderland School Board until his death, from cancer, in 2009. Ms. Kaelin was then diagnosed with leukemia.

“They were the best of friends. She was destroyed after my father passed away,” said Eric Dubowsky.

Ms. Kaelin continued to be there for her children.  Eric Dubowsky recalled the way she came to help him and his wife at their New Jersey home when their second child was born. It was New Year’s Eve when his wife went into labor.

“’I’ll call my mother,’ I said…She was here in two hours and 15 minutes,” he recalled, even though the drive usually takes longer. “My wife gave birth 20 minutes later.”

On July 19, Ms. Kaelin was diagnosed with lung cancer, said her son, describing the events of that day. She had been going in for a routine medical appointment. “A gentleman held the door open for her,” Eric Dubowsky said. “She ran up the stairs and was short of breath. They called an ambulance.” She died not three weeks later.

“Before she died, she had things she wanted to share,” said her son. One of them was a little knight, a symbol of a play she had directed, a gift from the cast. “One of her biggest passions was plays. She loved Broadway and musicals. She directed a couple of musicals,” said her son.

“She wanted to take my daughter to see The Nutcracker…but she passed too quickly,” he went on.

“Alexis,” Mr. Dubowsky said of his 3 1/2-year-old daughter, “ is a really girly girl. My wife and I won’t give her Barbies…My mom used to dance with her. She’d show her different steps of ballet. And she brought her a huge box of dress-up clothes.” So, he said, Alexis can reach in and, one day, put on a tutu to be a dancer or, another day, select a gown to be a princess.

“My mom really understood what kids wanted,” he said.

Alexis misses her grandmother. Yesterday, as she was being tucked into bed, she asked,  “Do Grandma Carol’s lungs still hurt?”

****

Carol Maureen Kaelin is survived by her son, Eric Dubowsky and his wife, Sarah, and their children, Alexis and Magnus, of Ridgewood, N.J.; her son, Ryan Dubowsky; her daughter, Margaret Dubowsky; her brothers, Bruno Kaelin, Walter Saul, Michael Saul, Geoffrey Saul, and Jim Saul; and her sisters, Judy Schaeffler, Evie Lubrano, Karen Lloyd,and Joanne Feore.

Her husband, Hy L. Dubowsky, died in 2009.

The funeral is private at the convenience of the family. Arrangements are by the Meyers Funeral Home of Delmar.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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