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A Tribute to Carol Levin

Carol Levin and her husband, the late Richard Gottlieb. Courtesy photo from May 2016

We got the sad news that Carol Levin had passed on, one day after her 79th birthday, on December 26, 2020.

Carol was born on December 25, 1941 in Pittsburgh, the daughter of Herbert J. Levin, MD and Margaret Clara (Matuschak) Levin. After growing up in that city, she got degrees from Thiel College in Greenville, PA and from the D. T. Watson School of Physiatrists, at the University of Pittsburgh. She worked as a physical therapist at the Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Hospital in West Haverstraw, New York for two years before joining Project HOPE to help people in Nicaragua and Columbia. After that, she worked in healthcare in the Philadelphia area.

Carol had an interest in folk music, and helped organize the Philadelphia Folk Song Society’s annual Folk Festival while she lived in that area. Because of her love of both music and Vermont, she soon moved here. In 1974, she opened the Chelsea House Folklore Center in a red barn in West Brattleboro, next to what is now the Chelsea Royal Diner.

The music venue, which operated until 1981, was the site of her wedding to Richard Gottlieb, in 1979. Richard was a delightful man, friendly to just about everyone he met. He was one of the earliest pioneers of solar electric systems. He installed solar cells on some of the satellites put into space by Vanguard rockets, the first of which went into orbit in 1958.

They lived in Guilford, Vermont, where she became known for the many activities she engaged in. She served on the Guilford Central School Board, was a trustee of the Guilford Fair, Inc. While she continued to work as a physical therapist, she increasingly took interest in renewable energy.

Together, Richard and Carol opened Sunnyside Solar to design and install solar photovoltaic systems. They sold their first solar panel in 1983. One early customer of Richard and Carol was Pete Seeger, who used solar power to provide sound for Pete’s Hudson River Revival.

Though Sunnyside Solar never grew very large, it had an important influence, as it promoted the use of solar systems for over thirty years, educating and advocating for clean energy. Because of this, Carol and Richard were given the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association Distinguished Service Award for their contributions to the solar energy.

Richard passed away in 2012. That sad event was covered by a G.E..T article, “Green Guru” (http://bit.ly/GET-g-guru) which appeared in April of that year. Carol, however, was not deterred for long in her pursuit of solar energy. The article, “Sunnyside Solar Returns!” (http://bit.ly/GET-s-s-returns) appeared in August 2013, as she worked with Dave Bonta, founder of USA Solar Store, to bring the business back to life.

Carol was passionately involved in clean energy, campaigning to eliminate energy sources that were polluting or dangerous. She was a board member for the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution, and provided leadership there and wherever else she thought it would do the best. And she was a wonderful friend to us at Green Energy Times.

Carol Levin was a woman whose life was filled with her many works, and who filled the lives of others with their benefits. She was survived by a large family and many, many friends. She will be greatly missed.

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