Estelle Kimberly (E.K.) Conner Caldwell (Tsalagi, Shawnee, Celtic, German) was born February 3, 1954 in Connellsville, PA and passed on unexpectedly on August I 1, 1997. Kim and her husband, James resided in Otis, Oregon. Kim was a writer, singer/songwriter, and counselor. She graduated from Connellsville High School in 1972 where she performed in many musicals and attended college in Clarion, PA, where she continued to perform both in the college theater and in local musical groups. Kim met her husband James in Clarion in 1973 and they were married in July 1984.
Kim will be remembered for her outstanding voice and knack with Iyrical composition Her love of music came from her family's love of Bluegrass music. When she was young, her relatives and family friends would often gather to play at her grandparents home.
For many years, Kim worked as a counselor at the Abraxas Foundation near Marienville, PA. And in 1979 she accepted a Therapy Supervisor position at the newly established Correctional Treatment Program in Salem. At this time, she also crossed over from acoustic to electric music which was an easy task for Kim's powerful voice. She continued writing music and performing with Salem rhythm and blues groups, including Sig and The Sahibs, The Cool Whips, and Reflex Blue. Kim's solo acoustic guitar performances in Salem area venues will be remembered by many. James joined Kim in Salem in 1981.
Kim left the counseling profession when she and James moved to Depoe Bay in 1990 to devote her time to writing poetry, short stories and journalism. "Bear," a children's book, was published by Scholastic and her narrative ballet " When the Animals Danced" was performed by Pacific Dance Ensemble both locally and in small villages in Japan, as part of an international dance exchange program.
Her poetry and stories have been published in a variety of anthologies and journals both nationally and internationally including: "For She is the Tree of Life; Grandmothers Through the Eyes of Women Writers," "Blue Dawn, Red Earth," "Gatherings Vll," and "Reinventing the Enemy's Language." Kim's journalistic writings have been published in nationally distributed News From Indian Country, New York Times syndicated multi-cultural wire service, The Bloomsbury Review, The Raven Chronicles, Indigenous Woman Magazine, American Indian Review, and locally Inkfish Magazine.
She recently submitted for publication "This Ain't No Dog and Pony Show," a collection of her interviews with notable Native American artists, writers, and teachers, and was also editing her first poetry collection manuscript as well as a CD of her original songs.
In addition to her writing and musical endeavors, Kim was active in a variety organizations including Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, Oregon Native Youth Council, an organization which helps local Native American youth with life alternatives, the Native American AIDS Prevention Center, and Native American Journalism Association (NAJA). She received the Best Feature Story award from NAJA in 1996.
In 1992 she became an apprentice writer in Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers and a year later was selected to be a mentor. In her role as a Wordcraft Circle Mentor, Kim worked closely with young Native writers in helping them to further develop their writing skills and assisting in having their work published. She was appointed to the Wordcraft Circle National Advisory Caucus in 1994 and in 1995 was elected to the organization's National Caucus board of directors and served as its Vice Chair until her passing.
Kim is survived by her husband James Caldwell, Otis, OR; her mother and father, Shirly and Dave Conner; brother Chris, all of Connellsville, PA; sister Kelly (Bob) Story, Strasburg, VA; brother Matthew, Richmond, VA; mother and father-in-law Millie and Carl Caldwell, Clarion, PA; brothers-in-law Robert and David Caldwell, Salem, OR; nieces, Lizbeth and Cresta White, Luhui Whitebear, Sacheen Tatooed; nephews, Che and Buddha Butler, Wallace Lawson, Molo Whitebear, Richard Cardona; and numerous aunties, uncles and cousins, all of whom will miss this exceptional person very much.
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