Trees for Carlen

Carlen Arnett has been one of the most important people in my life for the past 37 years. Her death has left a hole in my heart that I see no way to fix. The hundreds of tributes to her in the 'Friends of Carlen Arnett' group--testament to how she enriched so many lives--soothed me, but with her memorial a couple of weeks away, I find myself again seeking comfort. I remember that when Carlen lost her mother, she found solace by planting a tree in her mother's memory.

Following her example, we are raising money to honor Carlen with two trees, one in Chicago, beside her mother's memorial tree, which is across the street from where both she and her mom grew up; the second at Warren Wilson College, in Swannanoa, North Carolina, where Carlen received her MFA and found her tribe of writing compadres.

We hope to have the Chicago tree planted in time for a dedication the same day as Carlen's burial and memorial service, Saturday, April 7th. The Sugar Maple (pictured here) will be a glorious tribute to the rich colors Carlen added to our lives.

We are still finalizing a location and species for the Warren Wilson tree, but it will most likely be close to Bryson Gym, one of Carlen’s favorite places for all the Wally dances she attended there.

Several people have already inquired about contributing to a tree in Carlen's memory, so we're hoping to raise enough money for two! The Chicago tree is $1500, including tree, planting, perpetual care and a plaque at the base of the trunk. Warren Wilson doesn’t have a memorial tree program, and is still working out a price for us. We will update you once we have the final cost but for this purpose, we are assuming it will be the same as for the Chicago tree.

Funds will first go to cover the cost of the Chicago tree. If there are any excess funds above the cost of the Warren Wilson tree, they will be donated to the Warren Wilson College Friends of Writers Scholarship Fund in Carlen's memory.


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  • Helen Fremont 
    • $50 
    • 23 mos
  • Morgan Gale 
    • $10 
    • 23 mos
  • Terri Ford 
    • $120 
    • 24 mos
  • Lee Prusik 
    • $25 
    • 24 mos
  • Ann F Stanford 
    • $100 
    • 24 mos
See all


Melinda Benson 
New Orleans, LA
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