Karlene Kelley Hale North Monmouth

 Karlene Kelley Hale, 74, beloved journalist, author and extraordinary friend to neighborhood children, died peacefully Nov. 22 at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston after a long fight with COPD. 

She was born in Machias on March 11, 1943, the daughter of Karl F. Kelley and Dorothy (Burnham) Kelley.

Karlene earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine in 1965 and a master’s degree from Tufts University while her first husband, Charles Washburn, was earning a law degree at Boston University.

Karlene taught high school English at several Maine high schools before turning from education to a career in journalism. She was active in the Unitarian Church.

She was a district correspondent for the Bangor Daily News, covering eastern Washington County for several years. After moving to Monmouth, she began a 12-year career at the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, focusing mainly on education issues. She also wrote personal columns for the KJ that won a loyal following.

In 1995, Karlene left the KJ and began working as a full-time freelance reporter for Capital Weekly. Here, her work as a columnist really blossomed. She wrote with wit, compassion and a beautiful writing style and her work won many awards.

During this time, Karlene wrote three books - a look at the private lives of the mentally ill; the story of the highly successful Jonesport-Beals High School basketball team;  and a collection of essays about her growing up Down East, called “Tap Dancing and True Confessions.”

In 1987, Karlene married John Hale, a reporter at the Bangor Daily News who had preceded her on the education beat at the Kennebec Journal. She brought her then-13-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, to the marriage.

Karlene was predeceased by her parents and her first husband. 

Survivors include her husband, John Hale of North Monmouth; her daughter, Elizabeth Washburn of Boston; her sister, Elaine Dunton and her husband, Gary of Standish; her nephew, Toby Brown of Nantucket, Mass. and his wife, Suzette Corkish Brown, and their children, Eliza and Shaun; another nephew, Warren Brown of Livermore; and a stepson, Jonathan Hale of Washington, D.C.

There will be a celebration of life for Karlene at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30, at North Monmouth Community Church with a social time to follow. Snow date will be Saturday, Jan. 6. 

Spring burial will be in Pleasant Point Cemetery in North Monmouth.

In lieu of flowers, friends and family may donate in Karlene’s memory to the Activities Fund at Heritage Rehabilitation and Living Center, 457 Old Lewiston Road, Winthrop, ME 04364 or to the Food Bank at North Monmouth Community Church, P.O. Box 35, North Monmouth, ME 04265.

Karlene’s full obituary may be viewed and those who wish may share memories, condolences, photos or videos with the family on the obituary page at the website of Knowlton Hewins Roberts Funeral Homes at www.khrfuneralhomes.com

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