Karen Vaughan

Obituary of Karen Vaughan

Karen D. Vaughan, 79 of Newport died of a short illness on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at The Grand Islander Transitional Care Unit in Middletown, RI.

Born in Washington, DC on January 6, 1938 she was the daughter of Raymond M. Helgesen and Kitty Barrett.

She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and The Plains, Virginia.  Karen attended The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York and went on to graduate from Bradford College, in Haverhill, Massachusetts with degrees in English and Art.  After college she moved to New York City and began her career as a Photography Editor for Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Ladies Home Journal. 

In the late 1960’s Karen left the magazine world and began styling; working for fashion photographers and Burt Glinn and Elliot Erwitt of Magnum Photographers.  Her work varied; styling ads for print and television. She had an incredible eye.

Karen moved to Little Compton, RI with her family in the 1970’s.  She continued her styling business and dove into her love of cooking and gardening.  Karen was an amazing cook.  Together with friends she had a catering business and a gourmet pizza business, Amore Pizza.

Karen’s styling work evolved into a successful interior design business. In 1991 she moved to Newport to be close to her family. It was in Newport that she had her retail store “Karen Vaughan”.

She is survived by her daughter, Kim Kirby, son-in-law, Jerry Kirby and grandsons, Rome and Seamus.   She leaves her two stepbrothers, James Wiley and Lewis Wiley and their families, of The Plains, Virginia and a stepson Roger Vaughan Jr. of Smithfield, RI.

Karen adored her grandsons and played an enormous role in their lives. Wherever Karen was there was tons of laughter with Seamus, Rome, their cousins and friends! 

A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 1:00pm at Emmanuel Church, Newport RI. 

Donations in Karen’s memory may be made to The Star Kids Scholarship Program, P.O. Box 6214, Middletown, RI 02842.