Carmen R. Gillespie


Carmen R. Gillespie, 54, most recently of Lewisburg, died unexpectedly on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, at her home.
She was born June 17, 1965, in Ft. Rucker, Ala., a daughter of Lawrence and Gwen Gillespie of Virginia. She was married to Harold Bakst who preceded her in death Feb. 11, 2013.

Carmen was the loving and devoted mother of Chelsea Gillespie and Delaney Bakst. Carmen is also survived by her brother and sister-in-law, Larry and Sara Gillespie of Virginia, and nephews Isaac and Oscar Gillespie.

Carmen was a graduate of Robinson Secondary School and received her bachelor's and master's degrees from James Madison University and a Ph.D from Emory University.

Carmen began her teaching career at George Mason University. She continued her career as a professor of English, American, and African American literature at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Mary Washington and the University of Toledo. Carmen worked for the past 13 years as a professor at Bucknell University, where she was the director of the Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives and Culture at Bucknell.

Carmen's scholarship focused on Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and various aspects of American and Caribbean literature and culture. She published three award-winning books of poetry and received several prestigious fellowships for her writing.

A warm, kind, and beloved presence, Carmen enjoyed hosting her large circle of devoted friends and family at her beautiful home and garden.

A celebration of her life is being planned for the spring.

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Published on September 1, 2019
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47 posts

Michele Henry
Sep 11, 2019
Your work on the Caribbean island of Antigua was much appreciated. You are forever a sister to Waladli. Antigua
Al Knight
Sep 11, 2019
My sincerest condolences. 😢
Tropical Tours - St. Kitts-Nevis
Sep 11, 2019
Carmen contacted our company in 2015 and we have had this ongoing business relationship until two months ago, her last visit to St. Kitts-Nevis. She had an infectious smile and was very cognizant of her surroundings and knew exactly what she required to make her schedule flow without issues.

Even though I (Zandra) was not able to meet with her personally this time she still sent a message upon arrival thanking us at Tropical Tours for our assistance.

Carmen eventually in our view became a Kittitian & Nevisian . She was a familiar person with her students each year and it made our requests to the different vendors I looked forward each year for her visit and the back
...and forth ensuring all persons were contacted and the necessary arrangements made for her and students. We thanked her for always trusting and recommending our company with any arrangement that would enhance the group's visit whilst in St Kitts & Nevis.

Our condolences extended to her family, Bucknell University and any other affiliates.

Carmen, you will be missed in St Kitts & Nevis! May you rest in eternal peace!
Read more
Sep 10, 2019
Violet O. Jeffers-Nicholls Primary Schools.
Sep 09, 2019
The Principal and Staff of the Violet O. Jeffers-Nicholls Primary School is truly saddened to learn about the unexpected passing of Carmen RR. Gillepse. She was a powerful soul. We enjoyed all her visits and contact time. We miss her dearly. A candle gone out too soon, however her memories live on in our hearts.
Kathy Hogan
Sep 07, 2019
Carmen was a very special person in my life getting to know her through her Mother Mrs Gwen Gillespie , husband Mr Lawrence working to together in Fairfax County Public School System.
I'm very sadden by Carmen passing away, You left a life time Legency behind to carry on memories, May God bless your two wonderful daughters, parents, brother, and nephews
Jane Shumway
Sep 06, 2019
Carmen was my dear friend during high school where we took drama together and performed in The Crucible. She also did my hair for my senior prom which is a special memory .. Ill always remember her kind and loving spirit and treasure her friendship.
Anna, Simone, and Nina
Sep 06, 2019
We are writing to express our condolences at this time of need. We will keep you and your family in our prayers. Remember to look to the hills. Know that God loves you and will give you strength. He will also be a comfort in your time of need.
Love Sincerely,
Anna, Simone and Nina
Crew from Mount Vernon Woods
Christi Douglas
Sep 06, 2019
Blue Caribbean was purchased for the family of Carmen R. Gillespie by Christi Douglas.  Send flowers
Helen Bakst Sendroff
Sep 05, 2019
Peaceful White Lilies Basket was purchased for the family of Carmen R. Gillespie by Helen Bakst Sendroff.  Send flowers
Helen Bakst Sendroff
Sep 05, 2019
Dear Gwen and Larry, Chelsea and Delaney:

Len and I would like to offer our heartfelt condolences.
Carmen was a very special person to my brother Harold and to all of us. She was a life changing presence to so many despite her own tragedy
I’ll miss her soothing voice and smiling face that always had kind and reassuring words.
Carmen will be missed by both our families, friends and colleagues but There’s no doubt that her legacy will live on in a very meaningful way ❤️
Chip Rome
Sep 04, 2019
Carmen was one of my very first drama students at Robinson Secondary School. I remember her fondly as a wonderful, shining girl of great spirit and talent. May her memory be for a blessing.
Edithe Dobbins Mason
Sep 04, 2019
To Gwen and Family,
This news has hit me hard. I’ve loved Carmen since the day I met her with baby Chelsea. I’m sending my love and condolences to you all. I will keep you in my prayers. Love always, Edie
Bridget Newell
Sep 04, 2019
Love Everlasting Bouquet was purchased for the family of Carmen R. Gillespie by Bridget Newell.  Send flowers
anna bronner
Sep 03, 2019
Sweet Tranquility Basket was purchased for the family of Carmen R. Gillespie by anna bronner.  Send flowers
Terri Norton
Sep 03, 2019
I write to express my sincere condolences and prayers to Carmen's family. Her kind smile and warm embrace will remain as a bright light in the memories of my first year at Bucknell.
Sep 03, 2019
Sentimental Dreams was purchased for the family of Carmen R. Gillespie.  Send flowers
Yancey Hall
Sep 03, 2019
Peaceful White Lilies Basket was purchased for the family of Carmen R. Gillespie by Yancey Hall.  Send flowers
Michael R James
Sep 03, 2019
I write to express my deepest condolences to Carmen's family, especially to Chelsea and Delaney. We will all miss her so much, especially the big hugs she would always greet us with. Goodbye, beautiful soul.
Michael James
Sep 03, 2019
Blue Caribbean was purchased for the family of Carmen R. Gillespie.  Send flowers
Caro Mercado
Sep 03, 2019
Extending deep condolences to Carmen's family and especially her beautiful daughters, Chelsea and Delaney. I will always remember Carmen's earthy presence, kind, gentle yet fierce with a passion that emanated from her core. She was a lovely friend, generous to a fault and brilliantly talented. Will keep you in mind and may your beautiful presence resonate forevermore. Peace, Caro, Tony, Roman and Julien
Sheryl Woodward-Bryant
Sep 03, 2019
Carmen and I went to HS together..I cherished her friendship - she was a kind sweet hearted person with a beautiful smile..never saw her without one on her face. Prayers to her family..she was truly a shiny bright star and the world is a little darker without her presence.
Heather Fowler
Sep 02, 2019
I worked with Carmen at Bucknell. She was so warm and kind to me after I lost my son. She gave me a long beautiful handmade scarf and said that a very good friend gave it to her when she lost her husband and to wrap myself in it's warmth and beauty when I felt down. Wish we would have had that next lunch together we kept putting off. God bless her little girl Delany, to lose both parents .... another one gone too soon.
Jenny Britts Connors
Sep 02, 2019
Carmen and I were in the same graduating class at Robinson Secondary. She was a friendly girl who always had a smile. My deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.
Douglas and Lillie Gillespie
Sep 02, 2019
Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to family!