Obit: Caroline Paton (1932-2019) To Thread - Forum Home

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Obit: Caroline Paton (1932-2019)

18 Mar 19 - 11:42 AM (#3982873)
Subject: Caroline Paton's Health-3-18-19
From: bbc

Linnea posted the following during the night after March 17, 2019, about Caroline Paton's condition. Please keep Caroline & her family in your thoughts & prayers!

Update from Linnea Paton (Caroline's granddaughter) on Caroline's health:

Caroline has been on hospice for the past few months. I went to visit her yesterday (Saturday) and she could barely wake up, but when I told her I was going to sing her the Dark Island song she managed to quietly say, "Oh, that's great!" before falling asleep again. When Dave and his band saw her Friday and sang her Wild Mountain Thyme, she also seemed to fall asleep during the song, but at the end of their first time singing she woke up enough to say, "Sing it again!" She also said that she saw Sandy and Lee in the room with her, which I guess is a beautiful thing. Sunday morning (March 17) Caroline could not wake up and she remained unconscious throughout the day. Her passing is expected in the next few days. We are all very sad, but relieved that she is not in pain and appears peaceful.

Love to all,


18 Mar 19 - 02:00 PM (#3982901)
Subject: RE: Caroline Paton's Health-3-18-19
From: Elmore

God bless her.

18 Mar 19 - 02:42 PM (#3982914)
Subject: RE: Caroline Paton's Health-18 March 2019
From: Joe Offer

Linnea also posted photos of Sandy & Caroline's home, all cleaned out and ready for a new owner. That was a lovely place where so many of us enjoyed Sandy and Caroline's hospitality. We had an evening of conversation with Dan and Bonnie Milner; and then I slept in the library, surrounded by amazing songbooks. Thank you for everything, Caroline and Sandy. We'll miss you.

I found an obituary written by Michael Kornfeld at Here's the text of the article:
    Caroline Paton – Folksinger, Folklorist and Co-Founder of Folk-Legacy Records, 1932-2019
    by MICHAEL KORNFELD on Mar 19, 2019 • 7:42 pm

    Caroline Paton, a traditional folksinger, musician, folklorist and co-founder of Folk-Legacy Records, has died at the age of 86. Paton, who launched the independent label based in Sharon, Connecticut with her late husband Sandy and the late Lee Haggerty in1961, passed away on March 18. She had been living in a Connecticut nursing home since last year.
    While in Berkeley, California in 1957, she met her soon-to-be husband, Sandy (1929-2009). After traveling cross-country, singing songs, the couple sailed to the British Isles, where they performed in pubs and coffeehouses for a year –accompanying themselves on guitar, dulcimer and autoharp. After meeting noted collectors Hamish Henderson and Jeannie Robertson, they began collecting and learning traditional folk songs and old ballads themselves. Upon returning stateside, the Patons settled briefly in the Midwest along with their two young sons.
    The couple moved to New England in the early 1960s, and, in 1961, at the urging of Haggerty, whom they had met in Chicago, and with financial support from him and his sister, launched Folk-Legacy Records to release their own recordings of traditional folk music and to make “available to the discerning public good field recordings of authentic traditional artists.” The label’s first release was a collection of field recordings that the Patons had collected from North Carolina-based banjo player and singer Frank Proffitt (Although he didn’t write it, Profitt is credited as the source of “Tom Dooley”).
    Among the more than 120 recordings released by Folk-Legacy were albums by songwriters Gordon Bok, Michael Cooney, Skip Gorman, The Johnson Girls, Cindy Kallet, Jean Redpath, Ian Robb, Rosalie Sorrels and Bill Staines. Of course, the Patons also released their own recordings on the label. Besides being sold to and enjoyed by the general public, many of the label’s recordings have been used in college folklore courses. For decades, Folk-Legacy operated out of the Paton’s home — a large, remodeled barn on a rural hillside in Sharon, CT – to which they had moved from rural Huntington, Vermont in 1967 and in which they also had a recording studio. Folk-Legacy Records was acquired last November by the Smithsonian Institution (also home to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings), which will continue to make the music available and keep the legacy alive.
    As performing artists, and in keeping with the folk tradition, the Patons encouraged folks during their own concerts to sing-along on choruses and be active participants in the folk music experience, preferring, as they put it, “to sing with people, rather than at them.” In 1993, the Patons were named Connecticut’s State Troubadours. The California Traditional Music Society, the Memphis Dulcimer Festival in Tennessee, and the Eisteddfod Folk Festival at the University of Massachusetts in North Dartmouth also honored them.
    “Caroline Paton was one of the kindest, gentlest, most wonderful folk music people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” said Wanda Fischer, longtime host of “Hudson Valley Sampler” on WAMC-FM/Northeast Public Radio in Albany, NY. “She was one of a kind, and our world of music and humanity is a better place because she shared it with us.” Calling Folk-Legacy Records “a great foundation for the music I’ve played on the radio for more than 40 years,” Fischer said: “The vinyl Folk-Legacy albums I have are well-worn from many years of listening.”
    Noting that Caroline lived in WAMC’s terrestrial listening area, Fischer told “One of my favorite things was to get a handwritten note from her, on Folk-Legacy stationery, with the Green Man Folk-Legacy logo on top. She would send me little anecdotes about having met certain artists and thank me for introducing her to new artists. Thank ME? Seriously? After all the wonderful people she and Sandy had introduced ME to, over the years?”
    Fischer expressed thanks to Caroline and Sandy Paton “for their gifts of music and introducing so many people to the music we love, inspiring people to sing and sing along… Caroline was an extraordinary person–kind, gracious, soft-spoken, and yet, a walking encyclopedia of music. If there’s a heaven, she, Sandy and my other wonderful friend who left us a couple of weeks ago, Bill Spence [hammered dulcimer player, Fennig’s All-Stars], are having an enormously great time together.”
    A memorial service for Caroline Paton is being planned for Sunday, May 12 at 2 p.m. near Sharon, CT. Updates about that will be posted online at

18 Mar 19 - 03:19 PM (#3982924)
Subject: RE: Caroline Paton's Health-18 March 2019
From: bbc

Yes, Joe. It was strange, but lovely, to see the Great Room cleaned out! Surely, a time of transition!



18 Mar 19 - 03:39 PM (#3982926)
Subject: RE: Caroline Paton's Health-18 March 2019
From: bbc

Sad update--Caroline Paton died, at 3:15 am, on March 18, 2019, with her son David playing music for her. Very sad news, but it seems like a peaceful time! Her life was a gift to so many & I feel blessed to have known her & Sandy! Their lives & work were milestones in the folk community!


18 Mar 19 - 04:01 PM (#3982935)
Subject: RE: Caroline Paton's Health-18 March 2019
From: GUEST,Little Robyn

Sad news but now she is reunited with Sandy.
Lovely music in Heaven tonight.

18 Mar 19 - 04:21 PM (#3982940)
Subject: RE: Caroline Paton's Health-18 March 2019
From: oldhippie

Very sad to hear.

18 Mar 19 - 04:28 PM (#3982943)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: Joe Offer

Thanks for letting us know, bbc. Dan Schatz posted this on Facebook an hour ago:
    Caroline Paton died in the wee hours Monday morning. There is so much more to say about her than can ever be said - but what comes most to my mind is the love and light that she brought into every life she touched. That love lives and grows in all of us of who knew her, and will never fade.
I loved that woman. May she rest in peace, and may she be forever in our memories.

18 Mar 19 - 04:33 PM (#3982945)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: RTim

A very sad loss, but at least she is now in peace. I was a newcomer to her when we first met, but she was so so kind and encouraging. RIP

My Thoughts and regards to her family.

Tim Radford

18 Mar 19 - 04:37 PM (#3982946)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: bbc

Thanks, Joe. I heard, privately, early this afternoon, but didn't share until more significant others had posted. Kathy Westra posted, as well as Dan. Sandy & Caroline were such important members of the larger folk community as well as our mudcat family. I will always treasure my memories of them & the great contributions they made!


18 Mar 19 - 05:34 PM (#3982970)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: GUEST,Andymac

I'm so sorry to hear this. I only met her and Sandy once, at Liddy & John Baker's house a few years back but they had a profound effect on me. Such lovely, gracious and generous people. I'm sorry to hear of her passing but I'm glad that it was peaceful and that like her life, she was surrounded by music at the end.



18 Mar 19 - 07:26 PM (#3982987)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: GUEST,sandra in sydney cookiless

adding my condolences to the Paton family & friends

18 Mar 19 - 07:47 PM (#3982991)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: kendall

I have no words. the loss of this wonderful person is beyond adjusting.

18 Mar 19 - 09:24 PM (#3983005)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: ChanteyLass

So sad. She will be missed by many, including those of us who never met her.

18 Mar 19 - 11:13 PM (#3983012)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: EBarnacle

I enjoyed Carolyn and Sandy every time we met. Now we will meet no more on this shore.

19 Mar 19 - 07:57 AM (#3983082)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: voyager

How I met the Mudcat (Carolyn Paton)

Condolences to the family.
Thank you for your life in music.


19 Mar 19 - 08:00 AM (#3983084)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: voyager

repost - FSGW Getaway w/Carolyn and Sandy Paton

19 Mar 19 - 08:25 AM (#3983086)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: bbc

Caroline's granddaughter Linnea posted much more detail on March 19th about Caroline's health history, the future of the Folk Legacy music collection, & a possible memorial gathering. Here is what she said:

Update from Caroline's granddaughter Linnea Paton: Caroline Paton passed peacefully on Monday March 18th, 2019 at 3:15 a.m. GEER Nursing Home in Canaan, CT with family by her side.
In the past year she faced many health challenges including severe arthritis in her knees that left her unable to walk, challenges with low salt levels, an infection, and eventually the onset of Alzheimer's. She remained kind, gracious and warm-spirited throughout it all. The outpouring of love she and her family received this past year are a mirror of the love she showed us all.
Over three hundred friends generously contributed to help fund her care in the spring of 2018, which enabled her to receive the care she needed at home-a setting of her choosing up until the point when the arthritis became debilitating and she needed more medical care. I can't thank everyone enough for the generosity. It meant so much to Caroline too. A huge thanks to Sally Rogers and Jacqueline Reizes for helping organize the fundraiser for Caroline.
Family and friends have been visiting Caroline regularly since she moved to GEER Nursing Home in August of 2018. In September, we held a Folk-Legacy Weekend in Sharon, CT at the Silver Lake Conference Center and many of her friends and family from far away were able to see her then; her health had prevented her from going to the Old Songs Folk Festival and the New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA) festival for the past couple of years. Special thanks to Lynn Feingold and Lori Fassman for helping organize the Folk-Legacy weekend.
It has been a challenging year for Caroline's family as well. In order to qualify for medicaid, everything had to be sold. Caroline's friends and family stepped in to make sure that everything found the best home possible. Her sons Robin and David Paton and David's friends did a tremendous job of clearing out the Folk-Legacy house that had been the Paton's home for over 50 years, hosting hundreds of musicians and friends over the years, and of course, the place of production of thousands of recordings, LPs, cassettes, booklets, and CDs. The house was sold on Friday March 15th to a lovely family who want to restore and preserve the property as it was. Thanks also goes to Bob Zentz, Jeanne McDougall Zentz, and Lee Townsend whose coordinator efforts have preserved the entire Folk-Legacy folklore and folk-music library that long-time Folk-Legacy friend and volunteer Karen L. Kobela worked so hard to index along with hundreds of other artifacts and ephemera. Thanks also go to Duane Degutis who helped Caroline with emails, the website, and creating CDs after Sandy's passing in 2009 and to George Stephens who helped prepare the entire digital catalog so Folk-Legacy could transition from CD to the internet.
In November, Caroline sold Folk-Legacy to the Smithsonian Institution. They will keep the music in print and available in perpetuity. Caroline was thrilled that the music would be able to live on and really felt it was the right thing to do. There are many friends to thank for helping assist with this transition, but I will save that for a separate post. A formal announcement of the acquisition will be made in the spring, once they finish getting all the materials ready for publication again.
Caroline will be missed by so many. Her love wove so many people and communities together.
I am working with Dave, Rob, and Linda on the details for her memorial service. We will be in touch soon with an update.


19 Mar 19 - 03:45 PM (#3983182)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019

I have already put this message on the Mudcat Facebook page.
I first met Caroline and Sandy at the very first Mudact gathering which was organised by AnnaP in Seabright New Jersey. There were people meeting for the first time including Max, Bert, Dick Greenhause, Susan DT, Allan Clark and many more including Sandy & Caroline Paton and Caroline was telling me how her son David was born in London on the National Health system whilst they were playing there. Next we met up at the home of BBC in NY State as I was due to leave in a few days and the Patons came to "See me off" On my next trip over the pond I met up with them again at Old Songs where Folk Legacy had a record sales stand which doubled as a Mudcat meeting point Sandy and Caroline were hosting the first concert that night and they got me to sing the first song as their English friend. As the years went on I visited them a few more times and Caroline, although almost blind, always recognised my voice. I recall the time I spent at their amazing home on Sharon Mountain, I think it was called that, To travel around the house you had to negotiate a maze of piles of books and the Big room or barn was just unbelievable.                                                                                          These are just my memories of meeting a remarkable couple who I was honoured to call my friends. Caroline was a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice. Rest in Peace Caroline

19 Mar 19 - 04:07 PM (#3983185)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: Waddon Pete

Goodbye Caroline. My condolences to all your friends and family. You will be missed,


19 Mar 19 - 04:27 PM (#3983190)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: bbc

Information on a possible gathering date in memory of Caroline Paton--this is from a letter written by Caroline's sister, Linda Swenson, & posted on Linnea's Facebook page. A mention has also been made that it would be nice to do something at this year's Old Songs Festival in Altamont (Albany), New York, the weekend of June 28-30. 2-19.

Caroline Paton 8/31/32 - 3/18/19:

Dear Friends,

Family spent time with Caroline today — and David visited her before and after his music gigs for St. Patrick’s Day. He was with her at Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation when she died peacefully at 3:15 AM today (3-18-19). She was such an important member of our family, and was dearly loved for her delightful company, beautiful singing, and stewardship of Folk-Legacy, now part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Linnea is in pre-planning for a possible gathering in or around Sharon on the Mother’s Day weekend (May 11 and 12, 2019). Will send further information at a later date. It will be a lovely time to celebrate what Caroline Ann Paton has meant to us all.



20 Mar 19 - 09:41 AM (#3983356)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: bbc

I've been browsing the Internet for articles about Sandy & Caroline Paton & the history of Folk Legacy Records. I came upon this article in Sing Out! Magazine, written by Scott Alarik on Folk Legacy's 30th anniversary. It contains some great information, although I did notice a couple of errors. Robin is referred to as the "eldest son" when, actually, David is the elder of the two & Linnea is David's daughter, not Rob's! Here it is, for your interest!

Folk Legacy 30th Anniversary Article



20 Mar 19 - 10:00 AM (#3983359)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman

Even though I expectw it is a mercy for Caroline, I am overcome. I have so many fond memories of her and of Sandy, and the times we all inhabited, I can only say Amba and I are deeply grieved. Most of all I think of their kindness and generosity. Both of them are irreplaceable, both greatly loved by so many of us in the folk community, and greatly missed.


20 Mar 19 - 09:15 PM (#3983495)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: Bob Hitchcock

So sad to hear of Caroline's passing. The times I spent at the house/studio in Sharon are precious memories indeed. Recording the two Boarding Party albums there were very special times and the love and friendship of Sandy and Caroline will remain with me forever. My deepest sympathy to all her family.


Bob Hitchcock

21 Mar 19 - 08:38 AM (#3983569)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: bbc

Caroline's family is planning a memorial get-together for Mother's Day Sunday--May 12, 2019 from 2 PM – 6 PM. No further details at this time.


21 Mar 19 - 02:50 PM (#3983679)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: Helen

voyager's link to another thread on Mudcat had too many mudcats in it. Can you ever have too many Mudcats? I think not!

Try this one:

How I met the mudcat

21 Mar 19 - 02:51 PM (#3983680)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: Helen

Nope - it did it again.

Here's the text version:

24 Mar 19 - 05:25 PM (#3984418)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton-18 March 2019
From: bbc

Refresh. Memorial—May 12, 2019–Mother’s Day!

03 May 19 - 05:31 PM (#3990655)
Subject: RE: Obit: Caroline Paton (1932-2019)
From: GUEST,Siochain

Sharing for Linnea:

Please join us in remembering and celebrating the life of Caroline Paton, co-founder of Folk-Legacy Records, next weekend at Silver Lake Conference Center in Sharon, CT.

All are welcome to attend. Please bring a potluck dish to share if you are able. RSVP's on the evite are appreciated:

The service will go from 2PM-3PM followed by a reception until 4 and a song circle from 4-7PM.