Much loved family woman Kaz Elliott has died aged 64.
Here Adam Horovitz pays tribute to Kaz, who helped others to enjoy life and could always cure the blues.
THE 1990s in Stroud were an exciting time, when the town began to shrug off late 80s recession and become more vibrant and open, and when pubs, cafés and the high street began to blossom again.
Kaz Elliott, who has died aged 64, was of the most familiar and well-liked Stroud faces during that decade.
She ran Kaz’s Café until 1996 and then managed the Golden Fleece, which had been reopened as a jazz and blues pub by Andy Thomas in 1994.
Karalyn Elliott, known to her friends as Kaz, was born on October 14, 1955 to Joan and John, the youngest of three children after Sue and Ian.
She was raised in Guildford and moved to Bracknell in her teens, where she met Owen Kirton.
They married young – their first son, Ben, one of the founding members of popular 1990s Stroud band Flipside – was born when Kaz was 19.
Kaz quickly tired of Bracknell and discovered Stroud through her friends John and Ginnie Cummings, whose family owned a house in a thumb off-shoot of the Slad valley.
They visited often in the late 70s and early 1980s, before moving here for good in 1983, followed by her brother Ian and his family and her parents.
Kaz spent much of the 1980s raising her children, Ben, Jake and Shevi, but after separating from Owen at the end of the decade, she threw herself into new projects and into engaging with the town.
In 1991, she opened Kaz’s Café with partner Terry Trimmer on the High Street and, for the first half of the decade, the café became a hub for the excitement of the 1990s, acting as a focus (and place of hangover cures) for the adventures of her son Ben’s band, Flipside.
Kaz and Terry drew in numerous young people looking for direction and a bit of cash to work there, and Kaz’s house on Lansdown became a kind of extension of the café, with members of staff becoming lodgers and vice versa.
She excelled at encouraging people to enjoy themselves, becoming the devil-may-care older sister to numerous Stroud people in their teens and early 20s, ready with a drink, a shoulder to cry on and a raucous laugh to chase the blues away.
After the café closed down in 1996, Kaz was looking for work. One day, at a Flipside gig in Hereford, she asked Andy Thomas, one of the great movers and shakers of Stroud, for Stroudies of a certain vintage, for a job.
She began work in the kitchen of the notorious and glorious Pelican, which wasn’t particularly a culinary challenge as the main thing people wanted was chips with garlic mayo.
She was also thrown in at the deep end serving in the bar and the Zone nightclub behind the pub, and she quickly graduated to managing the Golden Fleece, in 1998.
The Golden Fleece played jazz and blues, and insisted on a staff dress code of white shirt and black pinny.
Despite these strictures, the four years she spent managing the Fleece was a celebratory time for Kaz.
Freed of the need to worry about being the business owner, she revelled in the freedom it allowed her and helped turn it into one of the town’s most popular bars.
After leaving the pub in 2002, she worked as a Neighbourhood Warden for Stroud District Council, enjoying the insights it gave her into hitherto unexplored parts of the district (although she hated the uniform because it was “SO beige!”).
The great joy of the last decade of Kaz’s life was connecting more deeply with friends and family and welcoming five grandchildren into her life.
On learning that she had terminal cancer, she crammed in as many family outings as she could – had as many people over for drinks as energy would allow and went about the end of her life with all the impish grace and good humour that had carried her through most of her life, laughing at herself and others, and being as concerned with their ongoing lives as with the briefness of her own.
Kaz died on October 2, 2020 and was buried on what would have been her 65th birthday.
She is survived by her children Ben, Jake and Shevi and her five grandchildren.
If you knew Kaz and would like to make a donation to the Longfield Hospice in her memory, her family would be very grateful.
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