With the passing of Cardy Raper this past September 5, the Burlington Writers Workshop (BWW) lost a very accomplished, beloved member, and friend.
Rather than attempt to recount Cardy’s talents and achievements in detail, I refer the reader to her website. Many of these details as well as more about her personal life are included in her obituary.
The following focuses on Cardy’s involvement with the BWW which truly made her beloved for all of our members who knew her as a colleague.
Cardy joined the BWW in late 2013. Early in 2014, she began her ongoing participation with the Tuesday morning Creative Non Fiction Workshop (CNF). Cardy shared with us the process of writing An American Harvest (published 2017), the fascinating story of her husband’s rise from the obscurity of the rural south to become a Harvard faculty member, and a world-renowned expert in mycology, the science of fungi. This book complemented Cardy’s own story, a third edition of which was published in 2018 under the title Love, Sex & Mushrooms: Adventures of a Woman in Science. In the past couple of years, Cardy shared with us work on a biography of her mother, Nell. She was basing it on a remarkable trove of letters and journals describing her mother’s life growing up in the late 1890s, then transitioning to married life in era when gaining the right to vote in 1920 was an epic accomplishment for women.
Cardy’s CNF participation was not limited to her submissions for review that we all looked forward to so much. Never one to be accused of timidity, Cardy didn’t hesitate to express her candid views on submissions by the rest of us. Particularly in the beginning, Cardy’s life-long habit of having a sharp eye for detail and an analytical approach to finding logic, structure and meaning in life colored her reactions to our work–reactions that while strongly and honestly felt and expressed, always recognized her subjective outlook and respect for others’ efforts. As time went on, demonstrating that a good teacher is also a good learner, Cardy grew to have a certain appreciation for the more poetic, spiritual, and metaphorical writing of some of our submissions–even if this was never to be her approach.
Here she is at Hotel Vermont in 2017 at the third annual Stories By the Fire event with a first-person tale told to a live audience in the Vermont fireside storytelling tradition.