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Virginia Karolyn (Kosanke) Wrightson

August 8, 1942 ~ August 14, 2018 (age 76)

Karolyn Wrightson, 76, of Asheville, passed away Tuesday, August 14, 2018.  Born in Ponca City, OK, on August 8, 1942, to the late Carl and Virginia (Loftin) Kosanke, she graduated from Mississippi College and holds a MA from University of Virginia.

Karolyn was three-term President of the Hastings-on-Hudson (NY) Historical Society during the 1970’s and 1980’s, then served as Executive Director of the Westchester County (NY) Historical Society from 1985-1991.  In 1992, she began drawing on that knowledge to write a popular history column for the Westchester Journal News - 400 articles over the next eight years.  She provided lectures about Westchester history throughout the county to schools and community groups, and contributed articles and essays to associated publications.  Many of her humorous pieces appeared in the Metropolitan Diary section of The New York Times.

Loving travel, in 1999 Karolyn created Essential DownUnder Travel, specializing in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands.  Always curious, she loved nothing more than adventuring into the byways where she could dive deeply into the culture, once spending six weeks camping in the Outback.  Over the years she developed treasured friendships within the Aborigine community.  Her expertise became recognized on both sides of the Pacific, as she won five distinguished Opal awards from Tourism Australia and published authoritative works about the area. 

Karolyn moved to Asheville in 2002, where she continued her travel work until retiring in 2016.  She discovered the outreach efforts of Haywood Street Congregation’s Respite Care program and was able to occasionally cook for them despite failing health.  A life-long learner, she had a passion for research, reading, music, Aboriginal and Maori art, cooking and advocating for the downtrodden. 

Karolyn was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers, Paul Alfred Kosanke and Carl Raymond Kosanke.  She is survived by her two children, Geoffrey Wrightson, of Los Angeles, CA, and Katherine Wrightson, of Manhattan, NY, and a sister, Dorothy Elder, of Greeley, CO.

She requested no services.  Family will hold a private remembrance.  Memorials may be made to Haywood Street Congregation, 297 Haywood St., Asheville, NC, 28801.

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