HARDWICK – Kathryn Clark “Kate” Crabtree, 54. Of Hardwick died March 17, following some longtime ailments.
She was born May 17, 1967, in Hartford, Conn., the youngest of six children born to the late Owen Anton “Tony” and Kathleen (McCarthy) Clark. Her family moved south when she was quite young and she spent 10 early formative years living in Florida, before the family moved back to Connecticut. She attended public schools in Lakeland, Fla., and Willimantic, Conn., and later took training in nursing after receiving her GED.
An independent soul, fond of going her own way, she would go on to live in Georgia and Colorado before settling in Nashville, Tenn. There, in 1994, she began working at the iconic Wildhorse Saloon, where, though employed as an administrative assistant, she was often called upon by her co-workers to sing them a song during sound checks for music acts, putting her lovely singing voice to good use. She caught the eye and ear of one co-worker in particular, Richard “Rick” Crabtree, and they became best friends and the loves of each other’s lives. They married in a small and simple ceremony in 2001. After leaving the Wildhorse/Gaylord Productions, they went on to work together as a self-employed team in their own business, Crabtree & Co., providing road and stage management services to country music stars out of Nashville, as they toured and performed throughout the country. They loved each other deeply and Kate recounted their time spent on the road together as some of the favorite times of her life. She spoke often of how the scenes viewed from the jump seat of the tour bus were among her happiest memories. Rick clearly treasured their relationship and leaned on her through many adventures and ups and downs until the day he died in 2011. Though she lived in Vermont in recent years, she remained a southern girl at heart and considered Nashville her true home.
Kate was compassionate and generously gave of herself and her nursing skills in caring for several family members and friends, many as they made their way through hospice care, including her parents and in-laws. It was her loving, but often snarky and wise cracking nature which kept her going through those times and later struggles with her own health concerns. Her feisty personality and personal motto, “Don’t tell me what to do!”, could have been misleading, but it was always delivered with a wink and a smile of a youngest offspring/sibling/cousin declaring her independence. Though she was very private about some aspects of her life, Kate remains treasured for the goodhearted nature she did show to all who knew and loved her. She will be well remembered for that and her wonderful singing voice. She will be sadly missed by all who were lucky enough to get to know her.
Survivors include: a step-daughter, Lily Crabtree Mengel of Savannah, Ga.; five siblings: Annie C. Clark of Willimantic, Conn., Mary Gagnon (and Alan) of Hardwick, John A. Clark (and Belinda) of Willimantic, Conn., Martin O. Clark (and Audrey) of Lebanon, Conn., and Joseph C. Clark (and Manisha) of Monroe, Ga., a close friend, Anthony “Tony” Hussey of Hardwick; and a large extended family of step-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, aunts and uncles.
All services and family gatherings will be held in Connecticut, at the convenience of her family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Hardwick Emergency Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 837, Hardwick, VT 05843 or Lamoille Area Cancer Network, P.O. Box 828, Morrisville, VT 05661.
Dian R. Holcomb of Northern Vermont Funeral Service, 60 Elm Street, Hardwick, is assisting family with arrangements. Online condolences are welcomed at northernvermontfuneralservice.com.