Carolee K. Michener, 93, a well-known and respected Franklin resident passed away on Sunday evening, December 18, 2022 at The Caring Place.
Born in Franklin on January 8, 1929, she was a daughter of the late Frank D. Kinnear and Ruth Cummings Kinnear.
She was a 1945 graduate of Franklin High School at the age of 16. Her interests always centered on writing and history which led her to serve as editor of the school newspaper, “The Broadcast.” During her senior year she began working at the News Herald which led to a career that spanned 49 years. In 1969 she became the managing editor and then in 1983 was promoted to executive editor where she worked until she retired in 1994. She continued to write newspaper columns featuring the history of many local people and places. During her 49 year newspaper career she received numerous awards and honors from various state newspaper associations.
Carolee is one of the best-known researchers in the region and is an expert on Franklin and Venango County history. She presents programs on the area’s history for clubs/organizations and school groups. Carolee has always been the “go to person” whenever anyone is seeking particulars on Venango County. She is active with the Venango County Historical Society and has published many books on local history. One of her first publications was the “Venango Co. Panorama, A Salute to its People” in 1983. In 1987, she authored the publication, “Polk Center, 90 Years”. Carolee received an Oil Region Historic Preservation Initiative award and the first-ever Dr. Paul Giddens Award for her book, “Franklin - A Place in History”, which was written in conjunction with the City’s 1995 Bicentennial celebration of which Carolee was the Chairman. Her interest in oil led to another book, “Oil Oil Oil” which was authored by her and published by the Venango Co. Historical Society in 1997. She also authored the “Venango Co. 2000, Volume I” and “Venango Co. 2000, Volume II“; “Venango Co. 2000,Volume III” is due to come out in the next year. These three volumes are the complete history of Venango County since 1900. Another publication to her credit is entitled “Rails to Trails in the Allegheny River Region”. In 2001, Carolee received a leadership award from the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations for her work in preserving Venango County’s history.
Carolee Michener was named the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Woman of the Year” first in 1982 and again in 1996 and is the only person to have received this honor on two occasions. The word, “volunteer” and Carolee were synonymous with one and other. She is an active member of the Franklin Gardeners Association and was named “Gardener of the Year in 2011”. She has been a key ingredient of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce’s Applefest since its inception in 1983. She served as the Chairman of the Apple Pie Tent for many years and was instrumental in organizing the Apple Pancake Breakfast. The Venango Co. 4-H Fair organization has also been a favorite of Carolee’s and received the “Friend of 4-H Fair Year Award”. She volunteers her expertise in cooking and baking for many organizations such as the Allegheny Valley Rails to Trails and various groups at St. Patrick Church. She also was the editor of the “Venango Heritage Cookbook”, published by the Venango County Historical Society in 1985, as well as coordinated various cookbooks for the Franklin Chamber. She is also a member of the Monday Club, as well as the Wednesday Club, whose members are involved in detailing history. She was inducted into the Franklin High School Hall of Fame in 2013.
Carolee married Milton Michener in August, 1953 and together they raised beautiful rhododendron plants to sell and traveled to many industry related conventions meeting fellow growers from all over the country. They also grew and sold blueberries from their home. She is an active member and volunteer at St. Patrick Church in Franklin and for many years served as advisor to the youth group and was always well thought of by the young people of the church.
In 2009 a documentary was produced by the large oil companies in the United States as a tribute to oil being discovered in 1859 in Titusville. In conjunction with the “Oil 150” celebration, the Oil Region Alliance, the Drake Well, the Venango Co. Historical Society, and others put together an hour long documentary which was viewed nationwide on PBS. Carolee was a presenter of one of the segments in this program which was filmed by WQED from Pittsburgh. Some of the filming was done at the Venango Co. Historical Society headquarters and also at the former Galena building on Liberty Street, as well as at the Drake Well and other locations.
Surviving are two sisters, Barbara Wabrick of West Mifflin and Kathleen Hosier and her husband Richard of Franklin; a half-brother, James and a half-sister Linda; and many nieces and nephews. She was a loving aunt who always took her nieces and nephews on special birthday lunches which they will never forget.
Carolee was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, and two brothers, F. David Kinnear and Raymond Kinnear.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Huff-Guthrie Funeral Home & Cremation Services Inc., 312 West Park St. Franklin where family and friends are welcome from 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. Tuesday, December 27, 2022.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 12:30 P.M. Tuesday in St. Patrick Church, 949 Liberty St. Franklin with Father James C. Campbell, officiating.
She will be laid to rest next to her husband at Sunset Hill Memorial Gardens.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Venango County Historical Society 307 South Park St. Franklin, PA 16323.
Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.Hufffuneral.com.