Caramine Kellam, born January 23, 1941, passed away peacefully at home on January 4, 2022. Until her last day, Caramine steadfastly and exuberantly lived out her life’s motto: “I want to leave my corner of the world a little better than I found it.”
Caramine was born and lived most of her life on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, following the examples of her parents, Polk and Amine Kellam. She and her beloved horse, Mr. Elbow—(whose room and board, Polk joked, cost more than Caramine’s)–graduated from Penn Hall Preparatory School and Junior College in Chambersburg, PA. She spent two years at the girls-only St. Mary’s College in Raleigh and, she laughed, “just as many weekends and summers at Chapel Hill” (which was boys only). She returned to the Shore and married Dr. Isaac Somers White, with whom she had three daughters. She later married Dr. Harry Holcomb and lived for many years on sleepy Warehouse Creek in Franktown, during which time she never slept as she was supporting her daughters in their many scholastic, athletic, and musical successes; celebrating their many personal and professional milestones, and extricating them from hairy situations better left undiscussed.
Caramine joked that the only job for which she was suited was “boss,” but, as no one would hire her for that position, she channeled her extraordinary energy into volunteering for—and leading—many community, state-wide, and national boards and foundations. She was integral to the success of numerous health-related projects, including the Eastern Shore Rural Health Systems Board, American Medical Association Alliance Board of Directors, and Riverside Health Systems of Directors. Caramine was the first woman–and the only repeat– chairman of the board for the Northampton-Accomack Memorial Hospital: During her two terms, she piloted it through a name change and helped forge an affiliation with Riverside Health System, which led to the building of a new hospital on the Shore. Caramine’s talents benefited many organizations, including the Colonial Dames, Daughters of the American Revolution, The Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society Board, Eastern Shore Community College, as well as several churches, including Belle Haven Presbyterian Church, Johnsons Methodist Church in Machipongo, VA, and Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Punta Gorda, FL.
On the Eastern Shore and in Punta Gorda, where she relocated in 2016, Caramine focused on making other people happy. Finally receiving a smile from a grumpy cashier (after months of trying) or making one of her chemotherapy nurses laugh meant as much to her as receiving the 2009 Philanthropic Person of the Year from the Eastern Shore Community College. “Everyone’s got their problems. You don’t need to hear all about mine!” was her response to questions about how her chemotherapy treatments were proceeding. She, purposefully, met negativity with both positivity and a beautiful smile, which made her beloved everywhere she went. Indeed, her three daughters were sometimes jealous of her cadre of “volunteer children,” as well as of her beloved canine children, who were her constant companions.
People may not always remember Caramine’s accomplishments. But, those who loved her will never forget her gloriously joyful laugh (hideously embarrassing to her daughters when they were young but which they all have, uniquely, assumed), which encouraged everyone around her (and in nearby counties—it was loud!) to focus on life’s goodness. No one will forget her Southern charm and hospitality, which warmed even the coldest audiences. No one will forget her loyalty to her family, her friends, and her beloved Eastern Shore. No one will forget her generosity, her work ethic, or her heart. No one will forget Caramine.
Caramine was more successful than she probably imagined: She left many corners of the world much better than she found them.
Caramine leaves behind many mourners, including her brother, E. Polk Kellam, Jr., and his wife, Roberta, of Franktown, VA; her daughter, Kellam White of Mount Pleasant, SC; her daughter Caramine White, Ph.D., and her husband, Paul Campsen, of Norfolk, VA; her daughter, Somers W. Farkas, and her husband, Jonathan, of Florida.
A graveside service will be conducted Saturday, April 9, 2022, at 11:00AM at Belle Haven Cemetery with Reverend Clarence Bowen officiating. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital, Attn: Sally Schreiber, PO Box 430, Onancock, VA 23417 or at riversideonline.com/foundation.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.doughtyfuneralhome.com.
Arrangements were made by Doughty Funeral Home in Exmore, Virginia.