Cover photo for Patricia Carlin's Obituary
Patricia Carlin Profile Photo
1951 Patricia Carlin 2024

Patricia Carlin

March 9, 1951 — January 19, 2024

Kalamazoo, Michigan

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” -Mary Oliver

 With great sorrow and profound gratitude, we announce the passing of Patricia Ann Carlin on January 19, 2024. Patricia started her journey on March 9, 1951, in the city of Detroit as the first born to Leo and Beatrice Carlin. As the eldest among eight siblings, she was natural at caring for others, always equipped with wise words of guidance and acts of kindness. She was the leader of the family and a second mother to so many. Her education at Dominican High School ignited her lifelong mission for social justice with the nuns providing early training in feminism. After graduating, she headed to Kalamazoo, MI, a city she fell in love with, to study English, education, and counseling, earning both Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Western Michigan University. 

 Patricia channeled her passion for helping others into a career spanning more than five decades as an educator, counselor and social worker. She started her career as a teacher before championing mental health advocacy and awareness. In her work, she was often ahead of her time, creating programs that made waves of change. Notably, she created an innovative Family Support Program at Community Mental Health to support families and parents who have a family member with a serious mental health condition. While at Kalamazoo Central High School, she developed a restorative justice program and the Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA), creating an inclusive and welcoming school environment. Patricia credited her upbringing in Detroit during a time of great social change, as having influenced her passion for giving back to the community and fighting for equality. She was awarded the Fulbright award in 2003 to study in Senegal and develop curriculum related to Islam and Francophone West Africa. In 2014, she was given the Always OutFront award for her significant work in the LGBTQ+ community. In 2023, she was awarded the Communities in Schools Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence Award. She CONTINUED her career working at Spring Valley and Northeastern Elementary schools and as a private practice therapist in the community helping countless people. She was a pillar of strength in the Kalamazoo community, and to know her was to be her friend. 

Patricia was a longtime supporter of public schools and various community organizations and initiatives, including the Kalamazoo Public Schools Equity Task Force and Design Team, Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, Partners in Dance at Western Michigan University, OutFront Kalamazoo, Bring a Therapy Dog to School with Dr. Angie Moe, and the “Heartbeat” writing program affiliated with Kalamazoo College’s Civic Engagement and Service-Learning. 

Patricia was a wonderful mother and teacher to countless students. She touched thousands of lives all over the world. Patricia said many times her greatest gift was her son Nick Carlin-Voigt who became the reason for her deepest and most profound thanks. She introduced her son to his wife Dr. Marin Henderson-Posther and become a beloved grandmother to her three shining stars, Winnie, Rowen and Wilder. She loved them deeply and they were the sparkle in her eye.  

Patricia is also survived by her siblings Thomas Carlin, Janet (David) Sorbo, Gerard (Shelly) Carlin, Nancy (James) Harla, Peter (Laura) Carlin, Mary Jane (Randall) Pasko and Jacquelene (Timothy) Finegan, 20 nieces and nephews and 16 great nieces and nephews. 

Patricia loved art, music, culture and sports (thanks to son Nick). She became the beloved team mother for Nick’s University of Portland Men’s soccer team. She almost never missed any of Nick’s games and could be seen making friends in the crowd. She loved water, and Lake Michigan was her sacred place. 

As we mourn the passing of beloved Patricia, we also celebrate her life. Please join us Saturday, January 27, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. at Chenery Auditorium. 

In lieu of flowers, a scholarship is being established with the Kalamazoo Foundation to honor Patricia by supporting future students who have a desire to enter the field of education/counseling/social work with a focus on social justice. In lieu of flowers, the family would encourage anyone interested to make a donation to the Patricia Carlin Scholarship to continue to fuel her mission of compassion, justice and healing. 

Patricia Carlin Education & Learning Fund (CARL01) (https://bit.ly/CarlinFund)

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Patricia Carlin, please visit our flower store.

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