Karen Tolman

Karen (Hyman) Tolman, 76, died on Aug. 19, 2020, at home in Nelson with family by her side.

She was born in Peterborough on April 18, 1944, and grew up in Dublin. She attended Keene High School, the University of New Hampshire and later the Chandler School for Women in Boston, which better prepared her for getting a job. She did secretarial and editorial work at American Science and Engineering in Cambridge, Mass., working on the Apollo space program. After some travelling abroad, she returned to Cambridge and worked at the Harvard Business School. She later met Barry Blackwell Tolman at a contra dance in Dublin and they were married in 1969.

She and Barry settled on the Tolman family homestead on Tolman Pond in Nelson, and were instantly entrusted with the management of the dozen year-round and summer rental properties. Being landlords defined their lives at Tolman Pond for over 50 years. Additionally, Karen became bookkeeper for her husband’s construction business, Mosquitobush, Inc. She also worked at Yankee Magazine in Dublin for a few years before becoming a mother to Thomas. She then managed to stay at home with their newborn, while also helping to care for her three stepchildren coming to New Hampshire from New York State during school vacations.

Additionally, she engaged in various activities at various times. Among her favorites, as a board member of the Harrisville School, now the Harrisville Children’s Center; part-time secretary and editor for Total Environmental Action in Harrisville, an ahead-of-their-times company promoting and designing solar energy homes; a board member of the Nelson School District; co-founder of the Nelson Artists’ Coop, which operated in the Old Nelson Library for over seven years; author of “The Greengate Saga,” a family tale of reversing the sale of about 500 acres of prime Nelson land with over a mile of undeveloped shore frontage on Spoonwood Pond (all now protected from development by the Harris Center); author of “Live from the Tolman Pond Archives,” a PowerPoint presentation given at the Nelson Library Summer Forum, now on YouTube; trustee, secretary and archives volunteer for Historic Harrisville, Inc.; member and contributor to Nelson’s History Roundtable, which hosts Nelson’s history website, www.nelsonhistory.org; and a contributing member to the Albert D. Quigley committee, which published a comprehensive catalog of this artist’s work.

Over the past few years, she has been organizing Tolman Pond photos, historical documents, writings, recordings, artwork and other source material into a Tolman Pond archive. She also enjoyed hobbies, albeit some short-lived, of black and white photography, silversmithing, painting and drawing; and she found enormous satisfaction designing, with some architectural help, their small home built by her son, Tom, with lumber cut and milled out by her husband, Barry.

She defined her life as amazingly full, having been enriched not only by her family, but also by living in a beautiful place steeped in an abundance of Tolman family history and heritage, and by having the opportunity to share her life with so many delightful and immensely interesting and talented people.

She is survived by her husband, Barry; her son, Thomas Tolman, and his partner, Larisa Belluscio, of Nelson; her three stepchildren: Kirsten (Bee) Tolman and her husband, Simon Hurley, of Cazenovia, N.Y.; Stacia Tolman of Nelson; and Ebenezer Tolman and his wife, Patricia Millan, of Newton, Mass.; two grandchildren: Wayland Tolman-Anderson and Francis Hurley Tolman; her sister, Katherine Hyman, of Paris, France; her brother, Tom Hyman, and his wife, Suzanne Haldane, of Peterborough; and her nephew, Ian Hyman, of Portland, Ore.

She is predeceased by her parents, Thomas and Bernice Hyman, of Dublin.

A celebration of her life will be held at the Tolman Pond Farmhouse at a date convenient for the family.

Memorial gifts may be made in her memory to: Historic Harrisville, Inc., P.O. Box 79, Harrisville NH 03450; or to the Nelson Conservation (Trails) Committee, c/o Town of Nelson, Nelson NH 03457.

The Foley Funeral Home of Keene is assisting the family with arrangements. To offer online condolences to the family or to share special memories, please visit www.foleyfuneralhome.com.