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Remembering Pamela Krasney

Pamela At Brumage/Schwartz Wedding 6.6.15
Pamela at Brumage/Schwartz Wedding 6.6.15

Pamela Krasney, 1943-2015

On June 9, 2015, activist and philanthropist Pamela Krasney passed away. Pamela’s passing is a great loss for Butler Koshland Fellowships, and to honor her, I would like to add some of my own thoughts to the many condolences others have already expressed. I encourage you to also read her obituary here , which will give you a much fuller sense of her life and accomplishments.

Pamela was very much a part of the BKF family, sharing special connections with all of us in one way or another: she was the beloved wife of one our guiding lights, Advisory Committee member Marty Krasney; a longtime friend to many of our associates; a colleague in the leadership development community through her work with organizations like Dalai Lama Fellows; and a cheerleader for me personally and professionally. She was everything you could want in a friend, a colleague, a teammate—she was funny, quirky, creative, intuitive, compassionate, and strong—all rolled up into a ball of energy and enthusiasm.

I feel fortunate not only to have known Pamela for many years, but to have seen her three days before her sudden passing. I was married June 6 and Pamela attended my wedding with her husband, Marty, that day. Little did any of us know that she would be gone so soon, yet in speaking to our guests since about Pamela’s passing, many of whom were formerly strangers to her, I have heard story after story about how “wonderful,” “intelligent,” “warm,” “interesting,” and “fun” she was. How could someone find a way in such a short time to deepen all of her existing connections as well as to make dear friends out of complete strangers? That was Pamela’s magic. Even I, the busy bride, found myself having a conversation with her about one of our ceremony readings. This reading was an unconventional choice, something I thought might be too “out there” for a wedding, but agreed to include because it meant so much to my now husband.  As soon as I saw Pamela after the ceremony, she rushed to embrace me, praising this particular piece, which she then engaged with curiosity and excitement. It was the perfect thing for her to notice and I felt so profoundly pleased and reassured by her enthusiasm. When my new husband and I sat down the next day to record all of our wedding memories in writing, this conversation with Pamela was at the top of my list.

Since receiving the terrible news of Pamela’s death, I’ve been sitting with all of my own memories of Pamela as well as what I’ve learned about her from others. And the more I think about these points of contact, the more I begin to see a theme that runs through them all: Pamela made people feel good. Not by being sappy, or by changing her character to suit others, but by being so fully immersed in her own sense of joy. What a gift! This realization has brought some focus to my grief and has given me a way to remember her with happiness rather than sadness. It has also given me something to strive for: in time, I hope that I can learn to share the way Pamela made me feel by giving that same joy to others. I encourage all of us to keep that magical Pamela feeling glowing within and to reach out and let us know how you’re doing it. We’d love to hear from you.

In remembrance,

Kate Brumage, Executive Director, Butler Koshland Fellowships

Gifts in Pamela’s memory can be made to Dalai Lama FellowsNaropa University, or the Prison Mindfulness Institute.