Virginia Karolyn Wrightson
1942 - 2018
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Virginia Karolyn Wrightson

Asheville - Karolyn Wrightson, 76, of Asheville, passed away Tuesday, August 14, 2018. Born in Ponca City, OK, on August 8, 1942, to the late Carl and Virginia (Loftin) Kosanke, she graduated from Mississippi College and holds a MA from University of Virginia.

Karolyn was three-term President of the Hastings-on-Hudson (NY) Historical Society during the 1970's and 1980's, then served as Executive Director of the Westchester County (NY) Historical Society from 1985-1991. In 1992, she began drawing on that knowledge to write a popular history column for the Westchester Journal News - 400 articles over the next eight years. She provided lectures about Westchester history throughout the county to schools and community groups, and contributed articles and essays to associated publications. Many of her humorous pieces appeared in the Metropolitan Diary section of The New York Times.

Loving travel, in 1999 Karolyn created Essential DownUnder Travel, specializing in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands. Always curious, she loved nothing more than adventuring into the byways where she could dive deeply into the culture, once spending six weeks camping in the Outback. Over the years she developed treasured friendships within the Aborigine community. Her expertise became recognized on both sides of the Pacific, as she won five distinguished Opal awards from Tourism Australia and published authoritative works about the area.

Karolyn moved to Asheville in 2002, where she continued her travel work until retiring in 2016. She discovered the outreach efforts of Haywood Street Congregation's Respite Care program and was able to occasionally cook for them despite failing health. A life-long learner, she had a passion for research, reading, music, Aboriginal and Maori art, cooking and advocating for the downtrodden.

Karolyn was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers, Paul Alfred Kosanke and Carl Raymond Kosanke. She is survived by her two children, Geoffrey Wrightson, of Los Angeles, CA, and Katherine Wrightson, of Manhattan, NY, and a sister, Dorothy Elder, of Greeley, CO.

She requested no services. Family will hold a private remembrance. Memorials may be made to Haywood Street Congregation, 297 Haywood St., Asheville, NC, 28801.

Condolences to the family can be made at

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Published in Asheville Citizen-Times on Aug. 19, 2018.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Asheville Area Alternative Funeral & Cremation Services
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6 entries
January 10, 2019
Just discovered Karolyn's obituary after not receiving her annual holiday letter. Met her over 50 years ago when we both lived in Charlottesville VA. Kept in touch over the decades. Watched her blossom as a writer and local historian in NY. Had hoped she could visit Mark and me in Westerville OH if her health allowed her to travel. So sorry to learn of her passing. Such a special friend.
Carol Aultman
September 6, 2018
We were all so very sorry to hear of Karolyn's passing. We have worked with her for more years than I care to remember!! She was a terrific agent and such fun to work with passionate and oh so knowledgeable about NZ, wonderful with her clients and really cared about how they experienced their travels Downunder'. I value her as a friend, not just as an agent . and now there's just a little less sunshine in the world. Our condolences to her family and friends from the Travel Time South Pacific team.
Darlene Jackson
August 23, 2018
A passionate traveler with an even greater passion to share her many and varied experiences. We never were able to meet but I enjoyed many an email over the years, whether checking in on clients or sharing something that had happened at home (usually including a bear!). I have known few who have given so much energy and shown so much care to ensure that her clients experienced the very best of what the real Australia has to offer. Her determination to continue her work when her health was trying to slow her down was inspiring.
Karolyn will be greatly missed across the continents.
Sue Morris
August 20, 2018
Anyone lucky enough to have booked one of her unique and thoughtful tours of Australia will forever treasure the experience. She put such care and thought into her planning, and always worked so hard to make sure her clients has the most amazing experience. I have been honored to have worked with Karolyn over the years, and she always amazed me with her enthusiasm, knowledge and passion. We'll miss you Karolyn, but rest assured you have an amazing legacy in your field!
Kirk Demeter
August 19, 2018
Karolyn was a friend for 15 years and a great person. She was always fun and interesting to be with... so many great stories to share. She will be missed by her lunch pals and every one who knew her. My condolences to her family on the loss of an amazing woman.
Tere Wood
August 18, 2018
Karolyn was an amazing woman! She had a passion for the South Pacific that was absolutely contagious to clients and suppliers alike. I worked with Karolyn for close to 15 years. She was my top Travel Agent for many years and booked the most unique things under the sun! When she needed to retire, I took over her beloved business - Essential DownUnder Travel. I learned so much from her and am honored she placed the trust of her business in my hands. Her legacy I will ensure lives on with the wonderful suppliers we work with and trust. Karolyn became a very dear friend and mentor and will greatly be missed! My thoughts are with her family and friends.
Tammy Lindsey
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