Obituary of Scott M. Karsten
The extended family of Scott Michael Karsten, of Glastonbury, is heartbroken to announce his passing on January 6, 2021. Scott was embarking on a Florida RV adventure to escape the New England winter when he died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack.
Scott was born to Harold J. Karsten, Jr. and Jayne Gourley Karsten on October 2, 1951 in Oklahoma City, OK. The eldest of four children, Scott was the lovable “sheriff” and instigator for his other siblings, and ungrudgingly assumed the role of surrogate father after the tragic and premature passing of his father at age 59. All knew that Scott’s occasionally tough and crusty demeanor belied a tender, loving, and generous heart.
Scott’s formative years were spent free-range in the idyllic environs of Chagrin Falls, OH, where he, his close friends and often tag-along siblings terrorized the muskrats, bluegills, reptiles and amphibians of Paw Paw Lake. He competed in classical piano competitions, played Professor Henry Higgins in local youth musical theater, read constantly, and dabbled in taxidermy and fly-tying in his few spare moments. The family move to Westport in his early teens brought Scott to the state of Connecticut, where he resided for the remainder of his life. Scott was an all-star varsity football and wrestling athlete at Staples High School, earning the 1969 title of CT state heavyweight champion. He continued pursuit of his many passions as a student at Wesleyan University, where he was a member of the DKE fraternity. After college, Scott attended the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he was third in his class and graduated with honors. While attending law school, and wanting to deepen his personal understanding of the noble profession he was to later enter, he served as a police officer and president of the police union in West Hartford, CT.
Scott began his law career with the firm of Day, Berry, and Howard, and went on to become partner in the firm of Sack, Spector, and Karsten. Before retiring, Scott was the founding partner of the Karsten & Tallberg law firm, from which he recently retired. His legal practice focused on jury trials of complex civil actions at both the state and federal levels, trying more than seventy cases to verdict or court judgment. His primary focus was on the defense of civil rights actions against state and municipal government employees and officials, education agencies and employees, public and private sector employment matters, and professional liability claims. He was a skillful, dedicated, and relentless representative for his various clients and brought his integrity and deep love for the rule of law to his practice. Ever the mentor, he frequently shared his insights as a speaker at continuing legal education seminars through his various bar associations. For over a decade, his peers repeatedly selected him as a New England and Connecticut “Super Lawyer”. He was a member of the Connecticut Bar, the Pennsylvania Bar, and was a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He was also admitted to practice in the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Connecticut, Vermont and New York (Eastern and Southern), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, and was an emeritus of the Oliver Ellsworth Inn of Court.
It was in law school that Scott met his future wife, Elizabeth (Beth) Alspach. They settled in Glastonbury and welcomed daughter Jules into their lives. Sadly, their romance and happy family togetherness was cut short as Beth courageously, but unsuccessfully, battled cancer, dying at age 41. Scott was a devoted single parent for many years after. A second marriage to Emely Karandy (of Gladwyne, PA) ended in divorce. Most recently, Scott found great love and happiness in his relationship with Gail Petersen. He embraced her children and grandchildren as his own, and in Scott they found a loving and engaged surrogate father and grandfather.
Scott was a true Renaissance man, whose intellect, passion, and deep ethic infused all of his endeavors. He was an avid fisherman and hunter who was most at peace wading in a pristine trout stream, landing a bone fish in the Caribbean, or plucking a freshly acquired goose for New Year’s dinner. He was a skillful cook, a wicked card player, a smooth dancer, and a surprisingly effective karaoke singer – no doubt informed by his stint covering 1960s hits as an electric organ player in his high school band. He was an honorable leader who helped energize his friends, colleagues, family and the community.
All that being said, Scott’s greatest passion was his devotion to family, and particularly to Jules. He was exceptionally proud of her and the creative, independent, young woman she has become. A dedicated and caring father and son, a loyal and supportive brother, uncle, grand-uncle, and partner, Scott was reliably available to provide advice, comfort, an occasional necessary scolding, or a haven for those needing a bed and a good meal for the night. His sense of humor was an extraordinary combination of wit, timing, intuition, and a genuine love of sharing a great laugh with those he cared about. Often it involved props of garbage bags, dead fish, strangely knitted caps, or whatever else he might have at hand. He cared deeply about those he loved, and was not afraid to show that, in fact, real men do shed tears – of joy, of sorrow, of genuine happiness, and of love.
In addition to Jules, her fiancé Zach Burt-Axford and partner Ken Johnson, and Gail, Scott is survived by: his 96-year old mother, Jayne, of Annapolis, MD; sisters Tracey Karsten Farrell (Glenn) of Lafayette, CA and Jill Karsten (Rodey Batiza) of Eden Prairie, MN; brother Kurt Karsten (Michelle Smith) of Annapolis, MD; nieces and nephews Caitlin Echelbarger (Nick), Shannon Baskauskas (Brian), Devon Kufske (Brad), Travis Batiza (Alyssa Curlee), Conrad Karsten (Ali Hakusui), Nora Karsten (Chris Olsen), Emma Karsten, Garrett Karsten, Eric Batiza (Molly), Rodey Batiza (Anna Wang); great nieces and nephews Helen (7), Chase (4), Jack (2), Cole (7 months), Logan (9), and Kyle (6); and cousin Barbara Karsten Rose (John) and AJ. He is also survived by his “adopted” children and grandchildren: Andrew Petersen (Tory Beavens) of Sinking Spring, PA; Mark Petersen (Jesse Ramos) and their children Pamela and Audrey Petersen (of Glastonbury, CT), Emely and the Silverman children (Kirkley, Eddie, Molly, and Schuyler) and their families, as well as numerous dear friends.
To paraphrase Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It, Scott was “very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things—trout as well as eternal salvation—come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.” It will not come easy to say goodbye to him.
We regret that due to current pandemic guidelines, the service and interment will be immediate family only, but it will be live-streamed on Monday, January 18, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST for those wishing to attend virtually (link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82439985294); a photo tribute to Scott will be available at this site starting at 10:30 AM EST. Friends may call from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm on Sunday, January 17, 2021 at Mulryan Funeral Home, 725 Hebron Ave., Glastonbury, CT. In order to adhere to current COVID 19 mandates, masks are required and six feet of social distancing will be maintained. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Scott Karsten Scholarship Fund at Wesleyan University, newly established in his memory. Donation checks payable to "Kent Literary Club (DKE)” with “Scott Karsten Scholarship Fund” in the memo section should be mailed to: Kent Literary Club, 196 East Main Street, Suite C Box 352, Milford, MA 01757. A joyous celebration of Scott’s life will be scheduled for the Summer of 2021 once it is safe for everyone who loved him, to hug, dance, and laugh together, as we share stories about this remarkable man who touched so many lives, so deeply.