Carolyn Balleisen, 90

Carolyn Balleisen, 90

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November 16, 2020 ~ 29 Heshvan 5781


After a very full nine decades and a long illness, Carolyn Kimmelfield Balleisen died in her home on November 16th.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Carolyn graduated from Barnard College, where she graduated with a degree in economics in 1950. She became one of the first women to gain admission to Columbia Law School, earning her J.D. in 1952.

Carolyn worked as a researcher on the American Law Institute’s Tax Law Restatement Project, where she became a national expert on partnership taxation. She then joined the law firm of Lord, Day & Lord as an associate, where she worked on corporate tax questions. She later wrote several articles on partnership taxation, taught law briefly at the University of Louisville after moving from New York in 1969, and after an extended break from the profession, developed a taxation and estate practice at the Louisville law firm of Tilford, Dobbins, & Buckaway from the late 1980s through the early 2000s.

Carolyn had a strong commitment to public service. A Zionist and active member of Americans for Democratic Action during her youth and early adulthood, she participated in a slew of non-profit organizations. In New York, these included the American Jewish Committee, the Citizens Housing Planning Council, which worked to expand affordable housing, Citizens Union, a good government organization, the League of Women Voters, and the American Bar Association’s Committee on Partnerships.

In Louisville, Carolyn became active in several organizations at the local and state levels. Through the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, she worked on issues related to social services and school desegregation. She joined the inaugural board of the Kentucky Housing Corporation in 1972, where she worked to redirect subsidized loans toward low-cost housing projects. During the 1970s and 1980s, her most significant community service focused on equitable access to childcare and preschool, through both Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C), and the creation of a Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) across the state. A longtime board member of the Kentucky Dance Council, she served as President in 1978 and was instrumental in bringing Michael Barishnikov to perform at the Louisville Ballet. She also served for a time as chair of the Jefferson County Cable Television Commission, a director of Louisville’s Metro United Way, and a member of the Education Committee of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce.

Carolyn was predeceased by her first husband Paul Tenen, her second husband Donald H. Balleisen, and her daughter Wendy Balleisen Finger. She is survived by her daughter Ellen Margaret Balleisen, Wendy’s husband Michael Finger and their daughter Cassandra, her son Edward James Balleisen, Edward’s wife Karin Shapiro, and their sons Zachary and Aaron.

For most of her adult life, Carolyn struggled with bipolar disorder; over the past two decades, she coped with a series of neurological disorders. Throughout, she retained a fierce mind, a strong sense of Jewish identity, a commitment to civic engagement and social justice, and a deep love of family.

Due to pandemic mandates, a memorial service will be held virtually on December 6, 2020 at 7:30 pm. For access codes, please contact The Temple.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in her memory be made to Jewish Family and Career Services of Louisville (https://jfcslouisville.org/donate/) or 4-C (https://www.4cforkids.org/about/donate/).