BURLINGTON, Vt. – The family of Kari (Stolpestad) Bierbaum recently gathered in Islesboro, Maine to remember her. Kari died by suicide on Dec. 2, 2018, in Burlington, Vt.

Our Kari was born Feb. 11, 1967, in Bryn Mawr, Pa. to Bonnie and Arthur Stolpestad of Brunswick, Maine and Lynn Mass. Standing together in love and courage were her beloved husband Bruce and Gunnar “My Boy” Bierbaum of Burlington, Vt.; mother Bonnie Stolpestad (the late Arthur Stolpestad) now of Crossroad’s Village, Portage, Mich.; brother Lars Stolpestad (Kari) and their children Annika and Bjorn of Kalamazoo, Mich., sister Rev. Kerrie Harthan (Gloria Korsman) of Cambridge, Mass.; Aunt Candy Dorscheid and her Donofrio family of Madison, Conn.; Godmother Gunta Hirsch (the late Bruno Hirsch) of Canton, Mass.; and cousins Ginny Drew, Earl and Bonnie MacKenzie of Islesboro.

Hailing from Brunswick, Kari graduated from BHS in 1985. She met Bruce at the University of Maine, Orono, graduating in 1989. They set up home in Burlington, Vt.  Kari loved working in the University of Vermont’s Research Protection Office and coming home to tend to Gunnar and his friends, and her vibrant garden.

She was an athletic outdoorsman, certified as a Diving Instructor and Master Gardener, perfectly reflecting her spiritual connection to nature.  She was happiest when camping on Warren Island, swimming and kayaking off Leadbetter Island (both in Penobscot Bay), snowshoeing and skiing in Stowe, hiking the Green Mts, and sailing on Lake Champlain with family, friends, and Ebb, her chocolate lab, who still looks for her.

Kari was an engaging woman whose sidesplitting antics grew out of compassion, mischief, and wry humor.  Whether flamboyantly dancing to ABBA on a schooner bowsprit or pouring red wine on your white kitchen floor and tossing ALL your clothes around your house as her way of saying’ thanks for your hospitality’, she endeared herself to you. You knew that she cared. Blessed with empathy and appreciation for the shenanigans of youth, she relished opening her home to her cherished neighborhood family, especially the young people now in college. She wanted you to feel at home, understood, content. Kari was kind.

She struggled with depression/anxiety, intensely these last two years. Our family is committed to bringing heartfelt awareness, research, and effective public health policy to bear on this widespread, treatable disease. We thank St. Lawrence University football team, staff and faculty for their superb, loving support of Gunnar. We thank Cremation Society of Chittenden County a division of Ready Funeral Services, Burlington, Vt. for their compassionate aid, including a perpetual web portal through which you can reach us and VSPC: CreamationSocietycc.com

If desired, a tribute to Kari can be made to the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center