Living a life of radiance: Friends, family remember Steamboat native Caroline Lupori
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — An adventurer, an artist, a teacher, an athlete, an avid diver and ocean lover, Caroline Lupori was a beloved daughter of John and Susan Lupori and sister to Ellese and Jack.
Caroline, 19, died in a backcountry skiing incident in Montana on Nov. 3. She was born and raised in Steamboat Springs.
Caroline was both completely carefree and deeply “caring of all living things,” described her older sister, 23-year-old Ellese Lupori.
“Knowing and loving Caroline has been the greatest gift I have ever received in my life,” said friend Lily Fox. “She was genuine, loving, vibrant, wild and hilarious, and she has left a permanent impact on me.”
Following Ellese to Bozeman, Caroline was a sophomore at Montana State University. Ellese thought about leaving Montana as she continued her own education, but decided not to move while Caroline was there.
Returning to Bozeman without her sister is going to be very hard, she said.
Ellese is particularly grateful for the past summer spent living in the same house. From homework to going to the grocery store, “We did everything together.”
While always drawn to art, Caroline had just in the past few weeks made the decision to pursue teaching, Ellese said.
Caroline settled on being an education major and picked out her classes, Ellese said. “She was so excited about it. … I thought she was going to be such a good teacher.”
One of the things that stood out most about Caroline was her positivity, said family friend and Lily’s mother, Kristy Fox. But her glass wasn’t just half-full, Kristy said.
“Her glass was simply overflowing — onto all of those who were around her. … And for such a young woman she seemed to have balance in her life. She had strong values and knew who she was. She was treasured by her family and friends, and she was fiercely loved,” she said.
Caroline was also close to their older brother, Jack, 26, who Ellese described as very protective of his little sister.
In addition, Caroline had a “bonus” mom in Michelle Raz, and “bonus” siblings Hunter, Kenzie and Colter Gansmann.
As an artist “her mind was beyond this world,” Ellese said. “It was all so abstract — her art was cerebral and unique. But all happy. Sometimes, I’d look at it and think, how did she think of that? I can’t conceive of the things that came out of her mind.”
Caroline was also very, very funny, Ellese said. And her humor permeated her entire outlook on life.
“It wasn’t like she cracked jokes all the time — she wasn’t the class clown,” Ellese said. “It was like she knew something that we didn’t about the world. And she was able to see it as hilarious, by never taking anything too seriously.”
Scott Fox, family friend and Kristy’s husband, also described Caroline as incredibly funny. Her sense of humor was a bit sarcastic he said, but mostly “she wanted her friends to be happy.”
“She wanted to spread joy amongst them. That’s really who she was,” he said.
Ellese describes a childhood of privilege growing up in the Steamboat community, but one not without hardship and challenges.
“Those times make you really close,” she said of her family.
While Ellese describes herself as a carbon copy of their father, it was in the time after Ellese left for college that Caroline and John really cemented their connection.
“Out of that came the most beautiful of relationships,” Ellese said.
Scott said a core part of his friendship with John is based on his admiration of his ability to be “an awesome dad.”
Caroline loved her dad like no other, Scott said. “They talked all the time.”
Scott said he knew Caroline, like a lot of youth, had her struggles, “but she had turned a corner on that stuff.
“She was happy. She had learned from struggles in the past and had really grown and blossomed as a young adult. She was excited for the future. She was in a great place. She was surrounded by friends and family that loved her a ton,” he said.
For the winter in Bozeman, Caroline planned to work as a kids’ ski instructor, just as she did in Steamboat.
Interacting with children she was not strict, but she could absolutely be respected, Ellese said.
“They just vibe with her energy. She would have been one of those teachers who don’t have to discipline because the kids don’t revolt in the first place,” she said.
Acknowledging Caroline could be indecisive, and often needed passion to follow through, Ellese said the whole family was really excited to see Caroline settled on a career path.
She was so free spirited, Ellese said, that Caroline could be carefree — to a fault.
“What tore her up was trying to live boundless and without regard, but then she hated it — hated it — when that hurt other people,” she said.
“She thought about others,” Scott said. “She wasn’t focused on herself. She truly wanted her friends to be happy.”
And she had many friends.
“She was super lovable and could make friends with anyone,” Ellese said. “She was so compassionate and kind and friendly to other people.”
There was never any drama with Caroline, Kristy said.
Ellese said she couldn’t remember her sister ever say a bad word about another person.
“Anyone she encountered could tell you what a radiant, positive person she was,” Lily said, “and she made everyone around her feel included.”
Kristy admired Caroline’s inclusivity with her large and diverse group of friends.
“She made sure everyone felt fine being exactly who they were,” Kristy said. “If you had one thing in common, you had a connection, and with all her positive energy — it really filled you up. She helped our daughter find her best self.”
Those traits were something that were always celebrated about Caroline.
“We don’t have to say we didn’t appreciate those while she was alive — we did,” she said. “(Caroline) stood out. Up until the last moment, she was living her best life.”
To best honor her sister going forward, Ellese said the plan is to now make everything fun.
“If we choose to live in Caroline’s legacy, we have to find fun and joy in the most boring moments because that’s what she had a gift in doing and why she will be so missed,” she said.
While she loved the mountains and Bozeman, Ellese said Caroline’s heart was headed to the beach.
One of Caroline’s greatest passions was scuba diving.
“She loved being under the ocean. It was so interesting — she was so peaceful, but also so wild. She was in her place under the ocean,” Ellese said.
A memorial service was held Monday at Holy Name Catholic Church in Steamboat. A fund has been established to honor the legacy of Caroline’s full life “of commitment to adventure and learning with the goal of helping others reach their dreams.” Contributions may be made through the Yampa Valley Community Foundation at yvcf.org/caroline-lupori.
“I am heartbroken to lose her,” Lily said. “But I am much more grateful to have had the opportunity to know and love her so deeply.”
The family plans to scatter Caroline’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean.
“She needs to be near the ocean,” Ellese said.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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