Eugenia Rice Bartell, Port Jeff High School Grad, Dies at 75

Rice Bartell's daughter, Caran Markson, remembers the life of her mother, who died on Thursday.

Eugenia Rice Bartell moved from New York City to Port Jefferson to attend school, eventually meeting and then marrying her high school sweetheart, Michael Caraftis, who was known for breaking records running track in the 1950s.

According to Caran Markson, Rice Bartell's daughter, the Caraftis family started the bait and tackle business that still serves the community on the west side of Port Jefferson Harbor near Beach Street.

Markson describes her mother as a "vivacious" woman who fell in love with the town of Montauk, eventually taking on a role as Community Editor of a local newspaper called the "Montauk Pioneer."

According to a family friend, a service will be held on May 4 at Montauk Community Church at 2 p.m. Her family has requested that all donations be made to ARF of the Hamptons, Box 901, Wainscott, NY 11975.

The following was submitted to Patch by Eugenia Rice Bartell's daughter, Caran Markson:

Thoreau once said “My life is like a stroll on the beach….as near to the edge as I can go.” And that was my mother’s life!

Eugenia Rice Bartell was born in Manhattan on June 19, 1937. She attended Friends Seminary and then moved out to the family’s summer home in Belle Terre, Port Jefferson. "Genia" graduated from Earl L. Vandermulen High School, earned her degree at SUNY Oneonta, and married her high school sweetheart Michael Caraftis. The couple lived for a year in Mannheim, Germany while her husband was stationed there with the United States Army.

When they returned from overseas, they settled back into Port Jefferson where Eugenia finished her education at C.W. Post and began a wonderful career teaching second-graders. My mother loved to teach and the children responded well to her enthusiasm.

My mother had two children from this marriage, Caran (me) and Timothy. Genia married a second time, to Edward Bartell, and had a second daughter, Genia.

As alive and vivacious as my mother was during these years, enjoying her career as a beloved educator and relishing her role as mother, she defined her ‘real’ life as beginning with a single trip to Gurney’s Inn in 1968. This was her introduction to her precious Montauk where she was to become a permanent fixture, and where she was led to the edge of the waterline, where she walked her whole life.  

“Montauk is filled with magic, mystery and miracles” became her theme as she quickly assimilated into this easy-going community, reading to the children at St. Therese’s Nursery School, managing the gift shop at Guild Hall, becoming a real estate agent at Monte and Monte, and eventually incorporating her love of the written word into her work by becoming a free-lance editor, working with local favorite authors Richard Prince, Paul Melnyk, local photographer (and former Montauk Pioneer editor) Richard Lewin and others. Having found her niche as a wordsmith she soon discovered her true passion as the community editor of the Montauk Pioneer.

After the Pioneer ceased publication, my mother dreamed of filling the void left behind with a true “Montauk Paper.” Sadly this was not to be, for she passed away still walking that edge of the water and left us better for having known her, and all the worse for having lost her.

My mother lived her life beating a different drum than the norm, but the rhythm she beat was always to make a difference for the good in the world in which she lived. She leaves to the care of this world her three children, five grandchildren, her brother and her first husband.

Our thoughts are with Eugenia Rice Bartell's family and friends at this difficult time. We welcome our readers to share their thoughts and memories of Eugenia in the comments section below.

Carol Sarames April 09, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Mrs. Bartell was my teacher in 3rd grade. I remember her well. Every day she would read a poem to the class, and I remember looking forward to that, it gave me a love of poetry to this day. I even remember our class having a surprise "bridal shower" for her when she married Mr. Bartell!! I am sure she made many more lasting impressions on the other children she taught! My condolences to her family. Carol Himmel Sarames.
Allyson Krieg April 11, 2013 at 06:38 PM
I was very fortunate to have Mrs. Bartell for 2nd and 3rd grade at Norwood Elementary. I can honestly say that she was the best teacher that I ever had in elementary school! Mrs. Bartell had a way of teaching that I responded very well to and I have never forgotten her. It's been over 30 years and I still have the silver dollars she gave to our class for the holidays and at the end of the school years. I remember how Mrs. Bartell used colored chalk when doing lessons on the board and the special way that she taught us how to spell Mississippi! What a wonderful tribute her daughter wrote about her mother, it is nice to know that Mrs. Bartell lived life to the fullest and on her own terms. I am very sorry to hear about her passing and my deepest condolences to her family. Allyson McDonnell Krieg
Barbara Karaftis September 01, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Caren,I am so very sorry to hear of the passing of your Mom.


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