Karen D. (KD) Vitelli

pic Vitelli WebsiteDRESDEN —-  Karen Donne (KD) Vitelli, 79, passed away peacefully in her Dresden home Tuesday, Sept 12, surrounded by her sisters, Eloise and Lillie, and a loving group of friends.  KD was predeceased by her husband Reg Heron, in 2012.  

Born on D-Day, June 6, 1944 in California, she was the first of five children of her late parents James R. and Alice (Carter) Vitelli of Bowdoinham.  She attended schools in Easton, PA and graduated from the College of Wooster,  Ohio, in 1966, having spent her junior year in the College Year in Athens program. KD went on to study archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania and to take part in excavations in Greece and Turkey. She received her PhD in 1974 and taught first at the University of Maryland, later joining the faculty of the Program in Classical Archaeology at Indiana University, becoming Chair in 1987. Under her guidance, the Program gained international recognition for its innovative approaches to teaching, fieldwork, and publication.  KD’s teaching and research provided a unique perspective into the study of ancient ceramics by focusing on the production process as a way of understanding the lives and cultures of the people who made them.  KD taught popular experimental pottery courses, both in the U.S. and Greece, prompting her students to ask larger questions about gender roles, the division of labor in early societies, specialization and household production.  

As a professor of archaeology, KD was the author of many scholarly publications and monographs on her research in Greek Neolithic pottery.  In addition, she contributed and edited columns in the Journal of Field Archaeology (1976–1983) and later edited a book, Archaeological Ethics, geared towards a broader audience to highlight the impacts that looting and irresponsible collecting practices have on the loss of cultural heritage.  Most recently, she published a book entitled Do I Really Want to be an Archaeologist? Letters from the Field, 1968–1974, in which letters sent home convey not only her early ambivalence about a career in archaeology, but also shine a light on a time of social and political upheaval in Greece. 

Vitelli retired from teaching in 2005 and moved with her husband Reg to Dresden, ME to be closer to her family. KD was an active community member, participating in and often organizing the Dresden Conservation Commission, the annual Bridge Academy Library plant sale, the Wiscasset Garden Club, and helping to maintain the gardens at the Pownalborough Courthouse and the Nickels-Sortwell house in Wiscasset.  KD developed a loyal fan club as the monthly columnist of “Seen in Dresden”, reporting on local natural history sightings and events with contributions from other community members. She was an avid gardener and enjoyed the diverse bird life that frequented her neighborhood.

She was recently predeceased by a brother, Jefferson B Vitelli, of Bethlehem, PA just 3 weeks ago, who left behind his wife Carole and daughter Chandra Bleice and family in Bethlehem.  KD is survived by her two sisters, Eloise Vitelli and her husband Robert Kalish of Arrowsic, with sons Samuel Reitman (Arrowsic) and William Kalish and his wife Alexa McRoberts (Colorado), and Lillie Vitelli, with husband Donald Mansius, and son Alexander Mansius, of Appleton.  A brother, Stephen  is in Tucson, Arizona and his daughter Laishona Vitelli and her family are in Falmouth, MA.  KD was an inspiring teacher, mentor and friend for many and will be sorely missed all who knew her.  

A private family celebration of KDs life will be scheduled in the future.  In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in KD’s memory to CHANS Home Health and Hospice, 45 Baribeau Dr. Brunswick, ME 04011 or Bridge Academy Public Library, 44 Middle Road, Dresden, ME 04342.

Arrangements are under the care of Kincer Funeral Home, 130 Pleasant St., Richmond, ME  04357