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Carolyn Cassady tribute 1923 – 2013

September 20th, 2013 · 146 Comments · Kerouac and The Beats, Real-life Adventure Tales


Another giant has fallen — another angel taken flight.

Carolyn Cassady has just left us to join Neal and Jack on that great road trip in the sky.

Her son John, the light of her life, was there by her side till the end.
After a year’s refusal of entry into the U.K., just 3 months ago he was able to return to England to be with her.

She was her regular rockin self up through Sunday, woke up with a tummy ache Monday morning, had an infected appendix, and checked out by Friday.

We should all be so lucky.  She was 90 years old and still drank her white wine and smoked her More menthol ciggies every day.

That is to say — she was living the life she chose, on her own terms, in her own house, until the very end.

Besides Neal’s love for her, it’s my considered opinion she was also the love of Jack Kerouac’s life — and they pledged to be together in the next one.

So there’s that.

Carolyn was spiritual, an intuitive channel, naturally smart, well educated, well read, independent, creative, curious as all get-out, strong … yet loved hugs, uncommonly forgiving while still holding a firm sense of right and wrong, and was a helluva gifted portrait painter.  Sold hundreds of them.  

She grew up in a library of a house, with a biochemist father and English teacher mother, and intellectual discourse and reading were the orders of the day.

She got her BA as one of the first students at the revolutionary Bennington College in Vermont, then earned her MA in Theater and Fine Arts at the University of Denver, where she was living when she met Neal.

Carolyn was the first of the then unnamed generation of Beats to move to San Francisco, and she was the reason Neal went there, which is why Jack went there … and so tumbled the dominoes of history.

I used to phone her at her cottage home in the forest around Windsor Castle every few months just to chat, and a little over a year ago she told me she didn’t expect to be here next year.

Since none of her three kids could get over there at that point, and I was sort of freed up for the first time with my mom just passing, I went and lived with her for 3 months, and boy did we have a time!

When we first started hanging out in the early ’90s, we were having so much fun, it made me realize I could be doing this with my own mom, who was about the same age.  And for the next 15 years my mom and I took our adventure even further and were even better friends than we had been before — and it was thanks to Carolyn opening those doors wide so I could see how much possibility there was.

Carolyn was born a week after my mom in April, and died a week after her in September.  I always wanted to get the two of them together but I guess we were always a week off.  Talk about fabulous roman candles exploding across the stars — those two together woulda lit up the night sky till dawn!

And she wasn’t just a surrogate mother to me, but was the den mother to the entire Beat Generation, the only one in that whole crazy krewe who maintained a home with kids and a garden – and a Kerouac bivouac under the backyard tree.  And she remained a mother figure until the end to hundreds of fans who would email her, and she’d write every one back, offering her advice and years of wisdom to help with any problem anyone else had.

She maintained a routine for at least the last decade of her life, where she would do emails in the morning, read from a stack of books beside her bed all afternoon, and by 5:00 it was okay to have a glass of wine and watch the local and then Beeb national news, then quiz shows or nature documentaries in the evenings.

She also had shelves full of Beat movies that I went through and had us systematically watch every damn one, and I could ask her any question and we’d hit pause and go off on crazy tangents and get another glass of wine and maybe watch another five minutes then something else would come up and it would take us about ten hours to get through one movie!

And she’d always say to whoever was talking in a documentary, “That isn’t how it was!” and be correcting the history as it’s being presented.  And the funniest time was when she was yelling at the screen, “That’s completely wrong! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” and it was her being interviewed!   🙂

She is survived by her beloved son John Allen Cassady — named for Kerouac, Ginsberg and Neal — but she called him Johnny.  As well as by her daughter Jami Cassady-Ratto, and her first-born Cathy Sylvia, as well as her grandchildren Jamie, Becky and Bill, and her great-grandchildren Jon, Ellie, David, Bradley, Elizabeth and . . . Cody. 😉

Carolyn rocked —
              but she also held down the Beat so others could solo.


Carolyn Cassady      1923 – 2013       R.I.P.


Here’s a video tribute done for her Memorial —>


Here’s a remembrance of her & Neal’s best friend — Al Hinkle — 1926 – 2018.

For a sweet ode I wrote for her several cycles ago you can riff the  Carolyn Birthday Poem.

Here’s a riff on the wonderful relationship she had with her son John.

Or here’s another one about CC as living history from when I was living with her — The Royal Woods of Cassady County.

Or there’s our great adventure in Jack’s Long Island—  The Northport Report. 😉

Or here’s a book I wrote that she read part of and loved — “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac” — but sadly wasn’t published until after she passed.

Or for some pictures of her and her house when I was there last summer you can check out the FB photo albums …

For a riff on my Carolyn-like Mom … check this  Song of Enid I Sing.


Or here’s my recent book with lots of cool Carolyn stories . . .

full_cover12 copy



Brian Hassett

Tags: ····

146 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Walter Salles // Sep 20, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Oh man,
    I’m so sad to hear this …. John and I exchanged several messages these past days, I knew about the surgery and am very, very sorry to hear about the outcome.

    Beautifully written obit. It makes justice to the unique lady that Carolyn was.

    Just landed in Brazil, will write to John and family later tonight.

    What a woman Carolyn was….will never forget her.

    Love, amigo, and peace.

  • 2 Levi Asher // Sep 20, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Hey Brian I just saw the sad news … Wow … Can I run what u wrote as a litkicks article?

  • 3 Mitch Potter // Sep 20, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    So really beautiful a tribute — I think it has the makings of a large-audience piece. You can offer a personal remembrance/appreciation with fresh anecdotes right up to the end, that’s special.
    Anyway, I know you loved her and whatever else, hugs and high fives for what you shared.
    So great you got to spend so much time with her.
    RI beautiful P.

  • 4 Jim Canary // Sep 20, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Sweet dreams, Carolyn.

  • 5 Jamie Cassady // Sep 20, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    Brian, this is a wonderful obit you wrote.
    Great stuff.
    Thanks for telling the world, that was super sweet.
    She did love you so.

  • 6 S.A. Griffin // Sep 20, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Beautiful send off for her, and great snap of the two of you.

  • 7 Walter Raubicheck // Sep 20, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Sorry for you, brother…I know how close you were…and she was so obviously a beautiful spirit…I felt I got a strong sense of it from “Off the Road” and all the things you’ve told me over the years ….
    Be strong.

  • 8 Susan Bennett // Sep 20, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    You completely have me crying.
    She was SUCH a beautiful soul, such a feisty and inspiring woman — such a talented and giving being.
    I will never forget meeting her in Northport, her sharing her bottle of Chardonnay with me…and noticing that we both had the same silver indiglo timex watch on. (I got such a kick out of that) A beautiful person all around. I’m so glad to have had that chance — to know a person so incredible as she.
    Thank you for your lovely post about her Brian.
    I am very moved, and truly sad to hear that she has left us.

  • 9 John Cassady // Sep 20, 2013 at 7:40 PM


    Brilliant, as always. Thanks, bro.


  • 10 Jerry Cimino // Sep 20, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Great piece, Brian. A fitting tribute to a grand lady.

  • 11 Timothy Moran // Sep 20, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    I was thinking today of our weekend in Northport and Carolyn’s kindness to me.
    After that weekend Carolyn and I took up a time of phone calls and letters – she immediately took to me, and me to her like a memory of days gone with Edie; two women whose molds were broken.
    Somewhere tonight there’s a hell of a party I wish I were invited to.

  • 12 Peter Hale // Sep 20, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Oh no … 🙁

  • 13 Oliver Trager // Sep 20, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    You did a real mitzvah, Brian.
    The planet is a little lighter…

  • 14 Steve Silberman // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Oh wow. I’m glad I got to talk to her for a couple of hours once. She was lovely.

  • 15 Juliana Moreira Leite // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    Beautifully written Brian.

    And a lovely picture.

    Rest in Peace sweet Carolyn Cassady.

  • 16 Debbie Vazquez // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    Omg — I’m so sad to hear this … she was such an amazing woman and will be remembered so fondly!

  • 17 Jeanne Masanz // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    What a beautiful tribute to Carolyn.
    I’m sad she’s gone, but not a bad way to leave this crazy world.
    Thank you for sharing your relationship with her. What a woman she was.
    This really helps.

  • 18 Megan Reese // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    So glad you got to spend some quality time with her!!!
    Beautifully written!!!

  • 19 Tod Bresler // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    That is beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 20 Mary Jo Sullivan-Hicks // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    You made me cry.
    Beautiful story of a wonderful life.
    Love ya kiddo.

  • 21 Nat // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Thanks. Carolyn lived long and beautifully

  • 22 Sam Hammond // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Perfect words mate. Thanks.

    The greatest person I ever met. Love her forever. Here’s a song I wrote about her and Neal if anybody’s interested.

  • 23 Brian // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    “Hey Hey Carolyn” !!!!

    GREAT song, Samson!!! I SO love it! SO upBeat! It makes me smile remembering that first day we shared it with her and the family.
    Nice memories, man.

  • 24 Kevin Kizer // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    Great pic and story!

  • 25 Ron Mc Gregor // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    Thanks for sharing the sad news with so much kindness.

  • 26 Joe Myles // Sep 20, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Great send off, Brian. Wish I had the pleasure of meeting her. Sounds like a wonderful woman!!

  • 27 Richard Marsh // Sep 20, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Beautiful Brian.

  • 28 Jeremy Hogan // Sep 20, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Sorry to hear about this. But it sounds like she definitely lived life the way she wanted.

  • 29 Kay Smith // Sep 20, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    I’m so sad to see this today Brian, I know how fond of her you were.
    R.I.P to a great spirit ! xx

  • 30 Moira Cole // Sep 20, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Brian, so sorry to hear of her passing.
    I so enjoyed reading your posts of your adventures during the time you spent with her last year. You have my sincere condolences.

  • 31 Stephanie Sears-Rippey // Sep 20, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    You are amazing with words! You capture your love so well and wrap it all around your subject like a blanket of LOVE.
    So glad you had the time together – Thanks for posting, sharing….

  • 32 Simon Warner // Sep 20, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    I visited her about this time last year, Brian, when John had had some visa issues to deal with. Glad to hear she went peacefully.

  • 33 Paul Johnson // Sep 20, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Sorry for your loss Brian — my deepest condolences, Amigo!

  • 34 paolo caliari // Sep 20, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Carolyn rest in peace & in our hearts…

    thnx brian.

  • 35 Kathy Soke // Sep 20, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    So sorry for your loss. What a blessing to have spent time and made such a wonderful connection and friendship.
    You are an open and loving soul. Thank you for sharing.

  • 36 Marty Katz // Sep 20, 2013 at 10:12 PM


    So sorry to hear.


  • 37 Sarah Benton // Sep 20, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    I was saddened to hear of this news. I sent a question for Carolyn a few years ago via the Beat Museum and I treasured the reply. I only wish I could’ve somehow talked to Carolyn again. She has always been the picture of a strong, intelligent, talented woman to me and I’ve strived to be like that. So much I want to know about Jack and the crew. To have lived back then and around them all. So sad to hear the passing, but how happy she must be now. My deepest condolences and love.

  • 38 Bill Tibbs // Sep 20, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    You have some great memories with her, Brian!!

  • 39 Linda Olle // Sep 20, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Thanks, Brian, for breaking the news!
    Carolyn touched us all with her humor and warmth.

  • 40 Phil Hopkins // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    Brian, what a wonderful tribute!
    Thank you for sharing. Peace.

  • 41 Jami Cassady // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Very good, Brother Bri, thanks. I did not realize that about your mum, wish I could have met her.
    Thanks for always being there for the Cassadys and admonishing us kids when we didn’t treat mom as she should be treated.
    Love you, Jami

  • 42 Chris Welch // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    Sorry to hear that brotha.
    We here for ya.

  • 43 Benj Keiman // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    She sounds like a wonderful person… I’m sure you brightened her life up with the visit, very positive thing you did.

  • 44 Angela Chalfant // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    So sorry … yet I’m happy her family could be there. Important for all.

  • 45 Mavis Lewis-Webber // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Oh if only we could be half the person.
    Thanks for the beautiful story.

  • 46 Honey Hill // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:35 PM


  • 47 Susan Bennett // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    My heart is heavy tonight upon learning that this incredibly beautiful soul has left us. I am thankful for having had the opportunity to meet her, share some Chardonnay with her along with a laugh and overall wonderful encounter. What a classy, classy lady.
    Say hello to Jack & Neal, beatific lady. You are already missed.

  • 48 Rod Mizak // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    Thank you, Brian, for such a wonderful story.
    Enjoy your new adventure Carolyn.

  • 49 Margaret Schermerhorn // Sep 21, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    Thanks for your wonderful photos and insights.. it makes me feel so good to know that you provided Carolyn with so much fun!

  • 50 Juliana Moreira Leite // Sep 21, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Send them my love from Brazil, Brian!
    I am happy to read your tribute — it was very touching and well written. As matter a fact, your whole webpage is awesome. You write very well!

  • 51 Joel Carter // Sep 21, 2013 at 12:25 AM

    Well spoke Brian … My condolences … Sorry to hear.

  • 52 Jill // Sep 21, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    I met Carolyn and John in Denver a few years ago at the exhibit of the On the Road scroll, and treasure the memory. They autographed my program, which I have framed. Charming, interesting people. All I could think of to say to Carolyn was “Thank you so much for being here.” But that really says it all, doesn’t it?

  • 53 Val Diell // Sep 21, 2013 at 1:05 AM

    Very sorry for the loss of someone you loved.

  • 54 Steve Silberman // Sep 21, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    I tweeted this out earlier and it went viral. Even City Lights sort of appropriated my tweet. 😉

  • 55 Mary Faulkner // Sep 21, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    Oh, sad news. My condolences and love to family and friends.
    Thank you, Brian, for this lovely tribute.

  • 56 Kris Hemensley // Sep 21, 2013 at 4:17 AM

    I was just having a conversation only the other day about Carolyn C. — she’s been in my mind as great survivor of the Beat adventure. It was such a surprise, therefore, to read your post of her demise. Very sorry. My brother, Bernard, in England sent me a link via City Lights site which is how I came here. Will look for your books & articles. Condolences and greetings from Melbourne, Australia. — Kris Hemensley

  • 57 Michael Handler // Sep 21, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    Thanks for this info…I never met Carolyn but met John and played guitars and harmonica with him once at their house in…Los Gatos was it? I lived in Oakland at the time, grew up in Menlo Park and actually had a guitar lesson form Jerry about 1965 or 6….Good to see those photos from the Dead show at the Rock museum…tell John hello form Harmonica Michael Handler…this was about 15 years ago! I now live in Santa Fe, NM…peace….

  • 58 Sam Hammond // Sep 21, 2013 at 7:23 AM

    Thanks for letting me know Brian, I really appreciate it. I’m so sad, I kinda never thought the day would come.
    I’m so glad she went quickly though and John was there.

    She was hands down the coolest person I ever met.

    Thanks again. Take care, and keep in touch.

  • 59 Kevin Twigg // Sep 21, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Everyone here has said what I’m thinking. She was amazing, and Brian you have been a most excellent advocate for her.

  • 60 Brooks // Sep 21, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    So mortal and few to take her (their) place!

  • 61 Judith Stradelmaier // Sep 21, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    This is the first thing I’ve read this morning and I just have to say Thank You for such an incredible account of an extraordinary life.
    The Universe never ceases to amaze…your post is a beautiful reminder of how and why people connect. I’m sorry for your loss and happy you had Carolyn in your life. It appears you were a gift to one another and who can ask for more?
    Many blessings.

  • 62 Becky Cassady-Ratto // Sep 21, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Thank you so much for this …

    Until we meet again sweet grammy.

  • 63 Jason Pacheco // Sep 21, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    The world has lost a beautiful soul. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

  • 64 Ilenia Herrera Lutz // Sep 21, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    I agree with you and everybody else here — sweet dreams Caroline! Sorry for your loss and thinking about the Cassadys too.

  • 65 Dan Barth // Sep 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    “I’m having to go over and over the past and I still don’t know why. When Neal died I thought—ah, till death do us part—but it turns out it’s my death, not his.”
    —Carolyn Cassady

  • 66 Kurt Phaneuf // Sep 21, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    I’m absolutely heartbroken.
    Despite the fact that her personality had gotten a bit prickly in recent years (seems like she’d gotten more territorial about Neal’s reputation and legacy…and rightly so), Carolyn always seemed like a model of decency and integrity.
    I long wished I could meet her and worship–if for but a moment–at the altar of her strength, beauty and grace.

    I hope she’ll finally be able to square accounts with Neal and Jack in that Pure Land of the Golden Eternity.

    My thoughts are with the Cassady family tonight–

  • 67 Jack Simpson // Sep 21, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    A heart-warming story, Brian. Thank you for sharing that.

  • 68 David Rhaesa // Sep 21, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    I made a collage today in her honor.

  • 69 Debra DeMattio // Sep 21, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    This is a true tragedy. I am a friend of John’s from NJ where he and Jerry brought the Beat Museum on Wheels to the County College of Morris in Randolph, NJ . John stayed with me during their visit to the college where I teach English and Film.
    Carolyn was the love of both Jack and Neal and the glue that held all of it together.
    God bless her that she is with both of them again.
    I just loved Carolyn and the literature that became a product of her life with Neal and Jack.
    I teach The Beat Generation in literature and in Film in my American Literature courses here at the college. She will always be in my heart. Much love to John and all of the family and extended family.
    God bless you for such a shining tribute.

  • 70 Howard McFarland // Sep 21, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Condolences to John, Jami and all the family — what a great woman, a fighter and a romantic all in one. Sure glad I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Beat Museum a few years back. She had a long and notable ride — and deserved it!

  • 71 Doug Stevenson // Sep 21, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    We are all a bit poorer today, as the world has lost a true visionary spirit. Sincerest condolences to Cathy, Jami, John and the entire Cassady clan.

  • 72 Susan Libby // Sep 21, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    So sorry to hear of Carolyn’s passing but want to acknowledge her incredible life! I agree that she was also The love of Jack’s life… I loved her book Off the Road and will read it again and again. What richness to have lived at that time, in that place and with those people. Even though they’re not yet recognized for it – they changed the world! Good Journey Carolyn!

  • 73 Bob Phillips // Sep 21, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    After reading about her since the late 1950’s I had the honor and priviledge of meeting Carolyn in Quebec City at the 1986 Kerouac Conference. A gracious, friendly, spirited, and inspiring human being. Got a big old lump in my throat right now. My deepest sympathy to her family and friends.

  • 74 Alicia Cabrera-Thomas // Sep 21, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    I just love what you have written about her ~~ & your friendship ~~
    Gooodeness your pictures attest to the sincerity of a great friendship & the love ~~
    I am determined I’ll read her memoir next …..
    It arrived a week & 1/2 ago — I took your advice & ordered the older edition…..
    she lived life just as she chose & that is just soooooooo amazing~~~
    she meant to many of the faithful who just sit in awe of this circle of friends she had~~~~~
    Thank You For Making Sure She Knew HOW Much
    Oh Brian ~~~ your friendship looks sooooooo lovely !
    I am so sorry for her loss

  • 75 David McGrath // Sep 21, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    John & family,

    So sorry for your loss. Remember the good times!

    Your amigo,
    David from NJ

  • 76 Laura Schibinger // Sep 21, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Really beautiful, Brian – I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend.
    I’m sure you were a bright spot in her life.

  • 77 Dave Moore // Sep 21, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    Very sad news!

  • 78 Zebulon Dakota // Sep 21, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    She was cool before most people knew what cool was.

  • 79 Alon Eshet // Sep 21, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    🙁 RIP

    Really nice words for a really nice person.

  • 80 Alan Ball // Sep 21, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Terribly sad news. As a lover of the novels of Kerouac and all things beat, I can appreciate Carolyn Cassady’s role and position in the whole story. Carolyn’s own book Off The Road is as good as anything written in the beat heyday. Long may you rest in peace.

  • 81 Per Berg // Sep 21, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    I got the honor to meet her in stockholm, sweden some years ago. A nice, wise and lovely woman. So sad.

  • 82 Lauren Filonge Cramer // Sep 21, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    OMG….just reading this…..don’t know what to say. I’m a little in shock. R.I.P. beautiful Carolyn & Brian, thank you for your wonderful words & I know you are personally feeling this loss. I also always believed & said this was Jack’s only true love of his life. (just my opinion)
    Please Brian pass on my condolences from myself and all those who recognized Carolyn’s significance.

  • 83 Horst Spandler // Sep 21, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Yesterday, while writing an account of our trip through the US to a friend, I noticed the little window pop up on my screen with the subject line you’d chosen and knew immediately what had happened. Sad news indeed!!!
    My condolences from Germany to the family.

    But while reading this my mood changed from shock and sadness to a feeling of — well, how should I put it? — of gratitude owed to the fact that the universe is able to bring forth such beings.

    And who else could have found the words to express this more appropriately than you did.
    Thank you, Brian, for turning my sadness about Carolyn’s passing into a mood of gratitude that she existed.


  • 84 Audrey Sprenger // Sep 21, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Beautiful tribute – Here is something I wrote:

  • 85 David Rollison // Sep 21, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Once a year until he died,
    Jack would call Carolyn Cassidy.
    “Hello,” he’d say. “This
    is old Jack. Get yourself a glass of wine
    and we’ll talk.”
    They talked long hours
    and it lasted till he died.
    And now she has died.
    She was 90. She took herself
    to England when she was already an old woman,
    her children grown, Jack and Neal both dead,
    she lived in the hamlet of Bracknell
    where the storm clouds would bunch up in the darkening sky
    and she could watch, with her glass of wine and cigarette.
    When she was a girl, she went
    on the road
    and found the spirit.

  • 86 John Wight // Sep 21, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    It seems she was a special lady, wish I could have met her before she left us…

  • 87 Marjorie Levine // Sep 21, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    Rest in Peace Carolyn Cassady.

  • 88 Ken Morris // Sep 21, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    So sorry to hear, Brian.
    I always felt that her words on the Beat galaxy was gospel and took it to heart. Yes, she was the “rock” so that others could solo. So true. I never met her but always was aware of her importance in so many lives that I admired.
    Ah, she led a great life!!
    RIP, Carolyn.

  • 89 Carolyn Kerouac // Sep 21, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    A grand tribute for a grand lady. Sorry that we never met…

  • 90 Tedd Ward, Jr. // Sep 21, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    I have never received bad news written in such a beautiful way. It still stings, but not quite as bad. Thanks, Brian and R.I.P. Carolyn.

  • 91 Nelson Liddle // Sep 21, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Golden Eternity for a lovely woman.

    My family and I have very fond memories of her visits to Scotland.

  • 92 Philip Willey // Sep 21, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Beautiful obit. Thanks Brian.

  • 93 Paul Edelstein // Sep 21, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    We our so deeply sorry. Sincerely Paul Edelstein, Memphis

  • 94 Mothra // Sep 21, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    There is nothing so beautiful as a woman unafraid to really live her life.


    On to the Cloud Atlas, and may you return once more for a life with JK. Maybe in the past . . .

  • 95 Stitch // Sep 21, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    I live in North Beach, drawn by the verve of the Beats. I heard Carolyn speak a few years ago, I am surprised to find out how old she actually was since at that time I thought she was much younger.

    Isn’t the best thing you can say about someone is: what a life!

    Hey Carolyn, what a life!

  • 96 Keith Woolford // Sep 21, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    I have never met any of the beats, but live in awe of the courage, strengths, and legacies they all left for us to look up to. She was a major part of the whole era and made the world a better place.
    As sad as I am, we are all richer for having her here in our lifetime.
    Carolyn was a inspiration!!!
    condolences to her whole family and friends.

  • 97 Dan Kramer // Sep 21, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    In the ’60s, I used to live near the home of Neal & Carolyn, though I didn’t know them personally. Years later I became a Hudson owner, then discovered the road adventures they shared with Jack in a car like mine. I still cruise in the Hudson, for over 36 years now, its wheels driven by the memory of their adventures and words. DK

  • 98 Jay Williamson // Sep 21, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    I wish I had met her…

  • 99 Mike K. // Sep 21, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    So sorry to hear of her passing. Condolences to your family. God Bless.

  • 100 Steve Sarrazine // Sep 21, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    Carolyn was gracious enough to host my wife and I in her home at Los Gatos, 1983. She was unpretentious, a wealth of information, down to earth, funny and kind. We will never forget her generosity that day. We exchanged letters for several years, I last saw CC in Quebec City, 1987. She was, and is…terrific. Thank you, Carolyn, an honor to know you

  • 101 Lorie Cunningham / Hoefler // Sep 21, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Gads, what can I say. Loving thoughts are with you all in the Cassady family.
    Growing up on Bancroft Avenue with the Cassady family and keeping in touch through the years, I am sending warmest of thoughts for Cathy, Jamie & John. Carolyn was one of the greatest & bravest women I ever knew. She leaves her legacy of the Beats, but she was the beginning. She’s free now and would want a celebration of her life. I’m glad the Cassady family has been part of my life. Love to each and every one.
    Lorie Cunningham / Hoefler

  • 102 Barbara Siepker // Sep 21, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    What a great photo. Sure looks like a great lady who will be greatly missed.

  • 103 Noonik Darbinian // Sep 22, 2013 at 2:58 AM

    Just when I woke up today in Yerevan, Armenia, to start working on my dissertation’s last few paragraphs, I found out that dear Carolyn Cassady is no longer in this world. Because of the subject of my Ph.D. dissertation (Novels of Jack Kerouac) five years of my life has been involved with the memories and books of The Beat Generation members. So everything I ever sensed about Carolyn Cassady was pure respect and I’m totally happy that she lived the life she chose for herself and I’m really saddened by her death.
    Noonik Darbinian

  • 104 Eleonora Tarantino // Sep 22, 2013 at 3:27 AM

    Simply thank you Carolyn, a brave woman of the Beat Generation!

    Milan, Italy

  • 105 Kim Martin // Sep 22, 2013 at 3:33 AM

    What a wonderful eulogy to a fantastic person.

  • 106 Buffalo Johnson // Sep 22, 2013 at 3:41 AM

    God Bless her. I don’t know what else to say…

  • 107 Emilie Thiry-Bourg // Sep 22, 2013 at 4:35 AM

    Goodbye sweet Carolyn
    may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest
    You were such a wise lady
    I am pretty sure that you have a special place in heaven.

  • 108 Jürgen // Sep 22, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    It makes me very sad to hear about Carolyn’s passing, with her, another angel has left Earth.
    Everything I know about her comes from books, but I always imagined that she must truly be a wonderful person. Regretfully, I never plucked up the courage to try and get in touch with her.
    My thoughts go out to her family and friends. Rest in Peace, Carolyn!

  • 109 Erica // Sep 22, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Thank you Carolyn, enjoy your next ride.. we’ll miss you.

  • 110 Edward Heflin // Sep 22, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Carolyn Cassady had class. Having admired her for years, I eventually exchanged some emails with her several years ago, agreeing with her that most media portrayals of Neal and Jack were off center. She was gracious to this fan and she was a gift to all who lived or studied the Beat Generation. Underappreciated, I believe she is on the Mt. Rushmore of that phenomenal time- Kerouac, Cassady, Cassady, Burroughs, Ginsberg, and Corso.

  • 111 Sue - Sams mum // Sep 22, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    I was with Sam yesterday when we heard the very sad news. I was so honoured to have met her and I spent her 90th birthday with her and Sam and Camilla. She was an amazing lady and I too will miss her greatly. She’s now with her loved ones and happy. RIP Carolyn x

  • 112 Maripat Robison // Sep 22, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Dedicated to Carolyn

    I saw the soul of
    San Francisco
    at the Beat Museum
    deep roots of
    unapproved thought
    dusty soldiers hijacked
    by pseudo societies
    silenced by full bellies
    and treadmill -wearied brains.

    Now amoral consciences
    step over bodies
    on the street
    pursuing nothing of value
    as priceless currency

  • 113 Mavis Musitelli // Sep 22, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    I honor Carolyn and her life. A tribute to all the family.

  • 114 Cathy Cassady-Sylvia // Sep 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Brilliant (and accurate!) bio and heartfelt homage to Mom, Brian.
    Thank you so much.


  • 115 Liz Belcher // Sep 22, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    This sparked a journey through a history of Beatdom for me.
    I am sorry for your loss Brian. You will carry many memories and stories with you.

  • 116 Krista Swisher // Sep 22, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    I was at a retreat & was “off the grid” all weekend & just read the news!! I am so So sad & so so SO sorry. She was kind enough to email me a few times when I was beginning to teach my “Intro to the Beat Generation” class. We mainly talked about the kids of these complex wonderful people. Her children were the light & life in her eyes. The world is a darker place without her in it.

  • 117 Laura Slye-Haythornthwaite // Sep 22, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Such fond memories of Aunt Carolyn and our philosophical discussions when I was growing up. She was great and I miss her.

  • 118 Debbie M // Sep 22, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    Wikipedia brought me to this page. What a beautiful and loving tribute. You paint a portrait of a lovely lady. Condolences to her family and friends.

  • 119 L // Sep 22, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I never met her in reality but reading this makes me feel as if she was quite a woman. Perhaps she and my parents of blessed memory will meet on another plain

  • 120 Doug Badders // Sep 22, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    She really did respond to e-mail sent from fans. I printed mine out and put it in my copy of Off The Road. It’s there in my library. Every time I see it I have to smile knowing that she wrote a few extra paragraphs just for me because I asked her a few questions. Sweet lady.

  • 121 Mary Jo Sullivan-Hicks // Sep 22, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    I am speechless Brian. I read some of your other pieces, but…wow! My friend, you get it…you get life and love and growing old and tenderness and compassion…so few people get it, but you do.
    You live your life without regrets, taking the time to care for others, which in turn nurtures your own soul. I admire the man you are.

  • 122 Scott Webber // Sep 23, 2013 at 6:26 AM

    Rest In Peace!

  • 123 Nic Saunders // Sep 23, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    This is very sad news indeed.

    I was very fortunate to film an interview with Carolyn in June of this year. She welcomed us into her home and shared her time and stories generously, showing us paintings and photographs she knew we’d be interested in. She’d doubtless done this a thousand times before, but she made us feel that this was the first time. Kerouac once said that houses were nothing but things full of dust, but hers was one of rich memories.

    Previously she’d been kind enough to watch a copy of a film I’d made and sent her and she took the time to write me and share her thoughts.

    She seemed so full of energy and life, that this news is a real shock. From the fleeting moments spent with her, she seemed such a generous woman.

    My thoughts go out to her family and friends in this sad time. But unlike so many of us, she can be pleased she will not be forgotten.

  • 124 John Leland // Sep 23, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    John Leland of the NY Times here. I’m writing an obit of Carolyn Cassady.

    Your tribute was very moving. Do you have a moment today to talk about her?
    Thanks, John

  • 125 Ronn // Sep 23, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    What a beautifully and thoughtfully written piece. Thanks Brian.
    And thanks, Carolyn, for being a light in many of our lives without ever having met you in person.
    John to you and your sisters I send my regrets, but also smiles as obviously your mom was a truly great lady and how lucky your family was and all of us were in ways to have had her here with us.
    Love, R

  • 126 Scott // Sep 23, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    The world lost an amazing person who made it more interesting.

  • 127 Dan Gallagher // Sep 23, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Wonderful woman! So sorry I was unable to take her up on the offer to go visit in England.

  • 128 Teresa Conboy // Sep 23, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    I thought Carolyn was timeless and therefore would live forever. I am happy to hear that she lived her life as she wanted up to the end. “Off the Road” remains one of my favorite books and it was always a pleasure to get her perspective in documentaries.
    I lost my own father a few years ago next month, he of the train-hopping generation. We learn so much from the stories they share. My deepest, heartfelt condolences to John and family.

  • 129 Elaine Woo, LA Times // Sep 23, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Dear Mr. Hassett,
    I read your lovely tribute to Carolyn Cassady on your website and would like to know if it is all right to quote from it in the news obituary I am preparing for the LA Times?
    May I also cite you as the source for the details of her death?
    Thank you for considering my questions.
    Sincerely, Elaine Woo

  • 130 Paul Verizzo // Sep 23, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Even though OTR was published as I was coming of age, I never read it until 2001. I remember finishing it and wondering who these people were in real life. I started learning and tracking them down, historically and geographically. Tim Gray of OTR was, it turned out, living a mile away from me at the time!

    I’ll never forget being welcomed into John’s home; there at the kitchen sink was Lu Anne, smiling in the low winter sunlight. Seven years later, and with the making of many friends in my Beat investigations, I still can’t believe my fortune.

    I’m glad you were able to be there, John.

    Paul Verizzo

    (For some of my Beat photo investigations, you can go to . That one is about me finding Near Sr.’s gravesite. There are links to the others there.)

  • 131 Brian // Sep 23, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    You were the guy who found the gravesite!?!
    Well done. I JUST talked to John & Carolyn about that in the last month!
    I’ll email you.

  • 132 Richard Gingras et Hélène Piché // Sep 23, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    Dear friends,
    Please accept our deepest condolences.
    Richard Gingras & Hélène Piché,
    Montréal, Québec

  • 133 Jo Wilson // Sep 23, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    What a wonderful woman she must have been.

  • 134 Steve Gilbert // Sep 23, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Hi Brian, thanks for the this. I am very interested in the beat authors and found you via the Beat Museum web-site. Thanks.

  • 135 Ben Nathan // Sep 24, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Well done. A fine tribute. I enjoyed the parallels to your relationship with your biological mom – who sounded cooler than cool. And yes, you are lucky in many ways to have spent your time so wisely with the wise ones…. may you always rock on with the true vigor of a peaceful warrior….

  • 136 Amy Friedman // Sep 24, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    A lovely tribute! I used to hang out with Carolyn when she lived in London. We’d chat, look at pictures, do an errand. She was so generous to the young people who visited, the scholars and poets who loved to hear her stories. Thanks for sharing this with all of us who miss her.

  • 137 Michael Hollander // Sep 25, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Fantastic tribute to a fantastic woman!
    A leader among leaders, an artist among artists, a grounding force surrounded by chaos.
    We lost a great one … and need more like her!
    Thanks for sharing this.

  • 138 Diane Girer // Sep 26, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    I just read this news and thought of you immediately.
    Remembering how you and Carolyn became friends all those precious years ago.
    Thinking of you, Bri…

  • 139 Norine Cook // Sep 26, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    Inspired and inspiring Brian.
    Beautiful piece and the picture says a thousand words.

  • 140 Sloy & Nic Nichols // Sep 27, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    You, Bri, are not only a great writer, but a very good spirit.
    Thank you for sharing this loving tribute to Carolyn with us all.
    Love, Sloy & Nic

  • 141 Margo Smith // Sep 27, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    Poignant, well told. Two roman candles will always light up your September sky. Sincere sympathy.

  • 142 Frank Black // Sep 28, 2013 at 5:13 AM


  • 143 Ron S. // Sep 29, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    This must be the place!
    Mrs. Cassady was always a smile, a kind word, and a flirtatious wink. She was a triple threat: a great artist, a great writer, and a great muse. Her kind of beatitude comes around once in a lifetime.
    Here’s to a time when she will be mentioned in the same breath as Jack, Allen, and Neal.
    Peace and Respect and Love.

  • 144 Promontory Rider // Aug 26, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Thank you, Brian. Now I understand your connection to the Cassady family… Such a happy tribute.

  • 145 Cheryl Lusk // Aug 26, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    Thank you for this.

  • 146 Neil Cassady's wife dies. | My Blog // Mar 22, 2019 at 4:21 PM

    […] See the full article here. […]

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