Caro Watkins Heller passed away last night. She was my god mother and she was a big part of my childhood growing up in Blawenburg, New Jersey. Caro and then-husband John Heller used to come down and visit us in the New Jersey countryside, and we would go and visit them often in Brooklyn Heights. Their kids were the city mice and we were the country mice, we used to joke.
There are many memories of Caro that I carry with me. She was someone who was genuinely interested in everything someone was saying, she was an avid listener, and a fascinating person too. She indulged in a passion for finding lost people and found many souls whose relatives thought they had vanished. She was clever like that.
In the 1970s, when the Hellers would descend on our family house in Blawenburg, it was an exciting time. It was special because they were special. Once Caro and my mother, fast friends to the very end, decided to stay up all night, and they capped it off by riding bicycles to Mountain View Road to watch the sun come up over a ridge. I had lots of adventures visiting their family in their big apartment at One Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights, and Caro and John were wonderful and kind hosts.
Later in my life as I spent time in New England, I didn’t see Caro in person, but I kept up a tradition. She would send me a birthday card with a $50 bill in it and I’d always take the time to write a long and detailed letter updating her on everything I was doing. It was a fun exercise to recount what had happened that year and her cards to me kept coming year after year and I’d reply with what were long thank you notes about my whereabouts.
We got a chance to visit with Caro and her partner Peter Beveridge about 12 years ago, in their apartment next to the river on Old Fulton Street. She took special delight in showing us her impressive collection of handguns, including her favorite, a Glock 9 mm. She was a liberal, and someone you wouldn’t think would carry a handgun, but she had her permits and she had pistol range training and she was proud of the arsenal she kept in her safe. She got a kick out of showing us.
Caro had a long life, and is survived by three wonderful children, Callie, Peter and Leslie, who have all become good citizens and made her proud. I am proud to have known Caro and a testament to what a wonderful person she was is how close my mom and dad remained to her and John since they first met in the early 1950s.