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Karoline Biggs Hilt '81

Karoline Freed Biggs Hilt '81 of Las Vegas, NV, died on March 31, 2014. She was born in Far Rockaway, NY, on September 14, 1930. If you never had the great good fortune to cross paths with her, all you need to know about Karoline Kash Freed Biggs Hilt, who died in Las Vegas of complications following heart surgery, was that she asked to be buried barefoot, in a comfortable pair of blue jeans and T-shirt. Funny, intelligent, tough, tender, wonderfully complicated, exasperatingly obstinate at times, always marching to her own drummer, fiercely loving to those she held dear. That was Karoline. The third of four children born to a Polish immigrant tailor, Sam, and his wife, Esther, Karol, as her parents called her (they were hoping for a boy they intended to name Karl), arrived on Sept. 14, 1930 in Rockaway, New York, and raised in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, where she attended Lafayette High School. At the age of 20, she married fellow Brooklyn resident Jerome Robert Freed. Four years later in Georgia, where “Jerry” was stationed in the Air Force, their first child, David, was born. A daughter, Ellen Lisa, would follow six years later in Denver. It was in Georgia that Karoline held down various interesting jobs, including working as a switchboard operator at a hotel and on an assembly line, stuffing pimentos in cocktail olives. She consumed so many olives, she liked to joke, that she never ate another one the remainder of her life. In 1959, Karoline and Jerry moved to Colorado, where Jerry joined the Denver Police Department as a patrol officer and Karoline began a career as a bookkeeper. She would eventually spend more than 23 years keeping the ledgers for the Colorado State Judicial Department, during which time she took college classes at night, proudly earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from Antioch in 1981. After 12 years of marriage, Karoline and Jerry were divorced. In 1966, while working a second job as a cocktail waitress to pay for her son's orthodontics, she met waiter and bartender Ivan Wayne Biggs. Their marriage would last until his death in 1993. Upon her retirement, Karoline, who'd never before been outside the United States, set off to see the world-or at least part of it. She began her international adventures with a trip to Israel where she volunteered her time and services with the Israeli Army. There, she met the man who would become her third husband, Bronx native and fellow army volunteer Howard Hilt. After repeated trips to Israel, they exchanged wedding vows before a rabbi. It was with Howie, she liked to say, that she finally found true love. The couple wintered annually in Boca Raton, Florida, and summered in Tomkins Cove, outside New York City, where Karoline always took great delight watching the deer eat everything she ever tried to plant. Karoline disliked clutter and tchotchkes. She loved to clean and was damn good at it. She also loved dogs, smothered burritos, a generous glass of red wine, tee shirts, simple white blouses, home improvement projects, balanced checkbooks, backyard swings, practical gifts and new beginnings. She loved making meals that people enjoyed. Though she was also particularly fond of yellow roses, she was never big on receiving fancy bouquets because, as she often pointed out, even the most beautiful flowers die, “And what's the point?” With her passing, those who will cherish her memory are reminded that life's most beautiful flowers do, indeed, pass on. In lieu of bouquets, memorial donations may be sent in her honor to some of the organizations which Karoline actively supported and were involved in, including the Foundation for Icthyosis & Related Skin Types, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Karoline is predeceased by her parents and older sister, Beatrice. She is survived by her husband, Howard; son David (Betsy) of Santa Barbara CA; daughter Lisa (Allen) of Las Vegas; grandchildren Anne, Danielle, Jeremiah, Nicholas, Rachel, and Robert; her older brother, Bob Kash, of Delray Beach, FL., younger sister Myrna of Dallas, TX; and numerous nephews and nieces. Burial was at the Gates of Zion Cemetery in Monsey, NY, at 10:30 a.m.on Sunday, April 6. In February, a week before her surgery, Karoline wrote this poem to her children: Each moment in time is a gift that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. We question as always the meaning of life, and “to live” is the only reply. So I celebrate you in the here and now-may you live as well as life will allow, and may your spirits be ever high, so they too fly as the days fly by.