NATCHEZ, MISS. and BAR HARBOR — A memorial service celebrating the life of Keith H. Karlson, 67, who died Jan. 16, 2016, will be held Sunday, Jan. 31, at 3 p.m. at Lansdowne Plantation, Natchez, Miss. Other memorial services will be held in Bay St. Louis, Miss.; South Dartmouth, Mass.; and Bar Harbor.
Keith was born Jan. 14, 1949, in Plainfield, N.J., the son of Karl Henrik Karlson and Jean Hall Dundon.
Keith graduated from Colgate University, Tulane University School of Law, and Tulane School of Social Work.
After law school, Keith co-founded the Louisiana Center for the Public Interest, the first non-profit law firm for persons with disabilities; this legal aid center continues to operate in New Orleans. A licensed clinical social worker, Keith was head of hospice services at Slidell Memorial Hospital and was a private therapist in Bay St. Louis, Miss. In Natchez, Keith was a clinical social worker for Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex. Keith was also a licensed real estate agent with Latter and Blum in New Orleans; he restored and renovated historic properties in New Orleans, Bay St. Louis, and Natchez, Miss. A gifted photographer, Keith opened the Mississippi Gallery in Bay St. Louis along with his partner, the artist Tony Eccles. Keith and other gallery owners in Bay St. Louis established Second Saturday Art Walk, and Keith was one of the founders of the Arts Natchez Gallery and Second Saturday in Natchez.
Keith was a lover of gardens. He was always planting, always enhancing the beauty that delighted and nourished him wherever he lived. Vegetables were tucked into the front garden, along with flowers, lots of flowers. Even the narrow strip of curbside green, an area ignored by most, he transformed. There was always a feeling of unrestrained joy and a bit of wildness in his gardens. In a quiet corner, an oriental statue symbolizing compassion and mercy stood. He created and tended his friendships in much the same way as he gardened, loving the bright contrasts of opposites. Keith’s friends fit no single profile. All were dear to him.
Each morning before work, Keith walked the bluff at a brisk pace, greeting people by name and with a wholehearted smile. He enjoyed looking at the gardens he passed along the way to see what was blooming. Heading home he would duck into St. Mary’s Basilica for a moment of quiet reflection, (checking in with Mary, he called it) grateful for the life and work he loved, his family and friends, and the beauty of this world, which he so faithfully served.
Keith was preceded in death by his parents, a beloved stepmother Cecile Devenish Sauvigne Karlson, and his former partner Tony Eccles.
Survivors include his partner Alfred J. Walker of Natchez, Miss.; one brother Karl Henrik Karlson Jr. and wife Marilyn of Advance, N.C.; a niece, Mary Katherine Karlson Bratton and husband, Ian, of Advance, N.C.; a nephew Karl William Karlson of Advance, N.C.; stepsisters, Diana Sauvigne of Atlanta; Patty Sauvigne Falco and husband, Pete, of Alexandria, Va.; and Devon Sauvigne Nauright of St. Augustine, Fla.; stepbrothers, George Sauvigne of Miami Shores, and John Sauvigne and wife Jan of Miami; and many devoted friends in Mississippi, Massachusetts, and Maine.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Keith Hall Karlson Memorial Fund at Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Maine Public Broadcasting, or the charity of your choice.