In Memoriam: Karyn Kay

I was shocked this morning to learn of the sudden death of my dear friend Karyn Kay. We knew each other for more than 20 years. Since 1998 I had the pleasure to work each May with Karyn and her English students at LaGuardia High School to prepare their literary journal, The Lively Arts. Karyn was a kind and generous woman, extremely devoted to her students, friends, and family. She supported me as I grew as a photographer, and she gladly offered herself as a model for my class assignments. These photos from classes long ago capture her warm spirit, and this is how I’ll remember her.


13 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Karyn Kay

    • Thanks for sharing your post, Ashley. Words are so hard to come by at a time like this, but I’m glad you had the opportunity for Karyn to encourage you to love writing. Keep up the good work for yourself and for her memory. Hopefully you can carry on her legacy of encouraging young writers.

  1. Thank you for these amazing photos of Karyn. They immortalize her dynamic, vital spirit. I will treasure these. I posted the link on my Facebook page. “As long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us as we remember them.” (Jewish prayer of remembrance). Karyn was one of my first friends when I moved East in 1979. We shared feminism, films, and friendship.

  2. Hello Mr. Barnett,

    I love the photos you posted. Ms. Kay was my daughter’s teacher at La Guardia, and she also considered her a friend, as did many of her students. The students are trying to raise funds to adopt a bench in Central Park in Ms. Kay’s memory. If there is any way for you to assist them in their honorable quest, I know they’d appreciate it greatly.

    Here’s a link to the site:

    Thank you, and sorry for the loss of your good friend and colleague.

    • Dear Mr. Barnett,

      I noticed your donation on Karyn’s Korner. On behalf of all of her students, I would like to sincerely thank you so much for doing that, although that wasn’t exactly what I expected of you. I was sort of hoping you could help pass the word for them. I thought they would have reached their goal easily, but for some reason, it seems to be going very slowly.

      Thank you so much again. Although I’ve never met you, I can tell that you are a very special person.

      Mary Ellen

      • Mary Ellen, Yesterday we completed the layout of The Lively Arts. It is one of the best issues I’ve worked on, and it’s a beautiful and fitting memorial to Karyn. I passed on the information on the park bench to the faculty adviser who stepped in to help as well as the student who is the magazine’s editor-in-chief. They offered to help get the word out.

  3. Mr. Barnett,

    Thank you so much for everything you’ve done. I know that the students greatly appreciate your efforts. I regret that I never met Karyn personally, but from the dedication of her students, my daughter included, I can see what a very special person she was to them. May she rest in peace, knowing what a positive difference she has made to the lives of so many.

  4. Hi Mr. Barnett,

    Beautiful photos! My daughter Christina is the creator of Karyn’s Corner. She just came home for the summer from college, and is planning a benefit concert/event to raise the funds to adopt the bench in Central Park. I am helping her, and will be creating the posters and other promo materials for the event. Would it be possible to use some of your photos? We would give you credit of course. You can reach her at or me at The date has not been set yet, but is expected to be mid July. Thank you also for making a donation.



  5. Hi Mr. Barnett,

    I would like to let you know that instead of adopting a bench in Central Park, (The goal of $7,500 was not met) with the money raised through Karyn’s Korner, I have adopted two trees in honor of Ms. Kay. One outside of her apartment and another outside of LaGuardia H.S. We were able to raise $3,704.23 and with that money tree guards for both trees will be purchased and installed & plaques for both trees will be bought. The money will also be used for the upkeep of both trees. Below is a link to the new website I have created, thought you would like to take a look. I have also created a new donation site to collect money for upcoming events, maintenance etc. Please help spread the word! Because you were such a close friend of hers, please let me know if there is anything you would like me to or think I should add to the site. Thanks so much for all your help!

    Christina Tapia

    • I was thinking about this the other day and wondering what happened. I’m so happy to hear that you found a fitting memorial (two, no less!) in place of the bench. The website is nice, and I hope it leads to many events to keep Karyn’s memory alive.

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