Kristen A. McKellar

Sep 10, 2018
Kristen McKellar

Camden — Kristen Ann McKellar was a bright and joyful soul who lived more during her 32 years here on Earth than many will live in 100. She died unexpectedly Aug. 2, 2018, after being struck by a boat while swimming close to shore with a friend in Damariscotta Lake. Kristen would want people to know that part, too.

Kristen was born May 1, 1986, in Rockport and grew up dividing her time between her mother's horse farm in Union and her father's home on Spruce Street in Camden. Both parents helped foster the innate love of animals that both Kristen and her sister, Alison, share, from horses and parakeets to snakes, chameleons, dogs and cats.

Kristen attended the Children’s House Montessori School, Appleton Village School, and  Mary E. Taylor Middle School before graduating early from Camden Hills Regional High School. She went on to study at the University of Maine and Stetson University in Florida. She graduated from Stetson in 2007 with a degree in political science.

After college, Kristen moved to Manhattan, N.Y., where she worked in website design and graphic design. She was briefly married to Alexander Nicholas, and the two remained close friends for the duration of her life. In 2012, she moved back to her home state of Maine.

If not for the untimely and tragic nature of her death, she would probably have written her own obituary. She was an excellent writer and likely the only person who could truly puzzle together the words that would do justice to her spirit. It would have been poetic and inspiring, yet quirky and unpredictable, just as she was, and it might even have included a secret code, treasure map, or detailed instructions on how to live with the joy and purpose that she was known for. Luckily for those of us left behind, there is much to be learned in the innumerable footprints she left in her short but meaningful life.

Fittingly, she was fond of these words by Lucius Annaeus Seneca: “Our care should not be to have lived long so much as to have lived enough.”

Kristen sometimes joked about her digital audiobook collection and the boxes of miscellaneous cables and adapters that would be left to her friends and family if she “were to die tomorrow.” She meant it as joke, but the spare parts and creative works she accumulated are indeed noteworthy, revealing much about her insatiably curious and open-minded approach to life. Virtually every genre is well represented in her list of audiobooks, and they’ve not yet been fully inventoried. Titles run the gamut from spiritual staples like "The Power of Now" to the complete Harry Potter collection to the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

From Steven King to C.S. Lewis and David Sideris to Rick Riordan, Kristen’s favorite authors were as diverse as her list of skills, which ranged from horseback riding and small-engine repair to scuba diving and snowboarding.

She did especially enjoy tales of superheroes and was well versed in each of their individual powers and virtues. Perhaps this is part of what led her to take on challenges that seemed just out of reach to many of her friends and family.

A convincing heroine herself, Kristen saved countless animals from imminent death, and improved the lives of just as many humans.

From ponies bound for the slaughterhouse to pit bulls slated for euthanasia, she was a true champion of the underdog. She once shared as one of her favorite quotes the words of 18th-century clergyman Sidney Smith, “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can.”

Kristen would help anyone, and she could not stand the thought that any injustice should come to pass that she might have assisted in preventing.

From her earliest days, Kristen was a natural friend to all animals, especially those in the most desperate situations. This continued throughout her life, and in 2016 she found a squirrel flopping about in the road and turned the car around to retrieve him. Though his condition was grim — even her family of animal-loving friends and relatives was skeptical — Kristen nursed the squirrel, dubbed “Paul” to health and released him back into the wild and he continued to visit her yard periodically, much to her delight.

Every living creature that crossed paths with Kristen benefited from her intuitive ability to relate, reassure and rehabilitate.

Kristen delighted in finding ways to modify and improve the world around her. She once wrote on Facebook, “I’m not an inventor. I’m an improver. I see things that are wrong and I improve them.” And so she did, improving both the built environment and the lives of those around her.

Kristen was adventurous and tremendously innovative. She enjoyed salvaging items and making them useful once again, or adapting them for new use. At the time of her death, she had nearly completed the full renovation of a once-neglected home in Belfast. A self-proclaimed “lifelong learner,” she had taken on not just the design elements of this resale project, but also the bulk of the carpentry, electrical and plumbing work. Ever the creative problem-solver, she always found a method of cheerfully working with what she had available.

Kristen had a special relationship with her nephews, Mason and Colton, and was beloved by both boys for her sense of wonder and loving personality. She was notorious for introducing the boys to interesting literature, fostering a love for all creatures, and for building elaborate forts out of everything from branches to blankets.

Kristen is survived by her parents, Molly McKellar of Lincolnville and Hugh McKellar of Camden; her sister, Alison McKellar, and her husband, Vincent Jones, of Camden; two nephews, Colton and Mason; her beloved rescue dogs, Diego and Rocks; as well as legions of friends and loved ones all over the country.

Her sudden loss is felt profoundly by her family, her community, and her many, many friends.

Everyone who knew Kristen or was touched by her in any way is invited to a celebration of her life at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Camden Snow Bowl with a reception and live music by one of Kristen’s favorite bands, Chris Ross and the North, to follow.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their children, friendly dogs and any dog toys, leashes, crates and collars that you would like to donate to dogs in need. There is an ongoing need for these items and used items are also happily accepted.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to Maine Coast Animal Rescue, P.O. Box 670 Lincolnville, ME 04849. A fund has been set up in Kristen’s name for the purpose of helping animals that face imminent death or euthanasia.

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