Published: November 5, 2019
NORTH WESTMINSTER, VT. – The vibrant and passionate soul of Karen Eve Augusta embarked on her next journey on October 26, after her body lost its long battle with endometrial cancer. She died in the home she loved, surrounded by family and friends. She was 70.
She was born December 24, 1948, in Norwood, Mass., the first child of esteemed portrait artist George Augusta and fashion illustrator Gertrude “Minka” Minkevitch. She spent her childhood in Massachusetts and in Kennebunkport, Maine, where her father maintained his summer portrait studio. Her early immersion in the world of art developed into an innate appreciation of fashion and textiles that helped form her life and career.
She had an eye for style, a love for flowers and colors and textures and excellent taste in friends, who numbered in the hundreds. She also had a kind, tender heart and an infectious laugh.
Karen was the co-owner of Augusta Auction Co, building the business into America’s top specialty auction house for historic clothing and textiles. She ran this enterprise from a studio building along the river next to her rambling farmhouse, which she and her husband tirelessly restored. Her sales attracted worldwide attention from fashion connoisseurs, professional collectors and museums. Over her long career, Karen assisted more than 200 museums identify, display and occasionally pare elements from their costume and textile collections.
For 13 years, Karen was the costume appraiser for the hit PBS series Antiques Roadshow and was a featured expert on other PBS and network TV shows. She was a lifelong member of the Costume Society of America and served on many committees promoting the preservation of historic clothing. She also mentored many young people by providing internships for fashion and design majors, eager to share her knowledge with others.
Through her efforts, tens of thousands of costume and textile treasures were saved and preserved during her long career.
Karen was a 1971 graduate of Marlboro College and received a bachelor of science for her studies in biology and environmental issues. She also received a doctorate in experimental higher education from Nasson — New Division. Karen was involved in national and local preservation efforts and, with her husband, donated the riverfront parcel that enabled the protection of the Bald Hill/Pinnacle Association Preserve in Westminster.
In 1998, along with a few other community members, Karen helped to create the independent Compass School in Westminster, an educational project very dear to her heart. She served as secretary and founding director on the Compass board for six years. The Compass School just celebrated its 20th year of educating area students.
She is survived by her beloved husband, Robert Ross, and her adored son, Emery Ross, both of North Westminster. She is also survived by four siblings, Lauren of Oakland, Calif., Chris of Waldoboro, Maine, Philip of Kittery Point, Maine, and Marc of Fort Kent, Maine; a half-brother, Steve Onishi of Sharon, Mass.,. as well as numerous nephews and cousins.
A celebration of Karen’s life will be conducted in the spring of 2020 at her homestead, when the magnificent flower gardens she doted over are in bloom. A time and date will be announced later.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Karen’s memory may be sent to the Vermont Food Bank in Barre, Vt., (www.vtfoodbank.org) or the Compass School in Westminster (802-463-2525).
— Submitted by the family
November 22, 2022
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