Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remembering Aunt Karen

My Aunt Karen passed away on May 25th from a long battle with cancer. I wanted to just take a minute to write some things about her...yes, this blog is a place for me to share about my life but it is also like a living scrapbook for myself and it is space where I like to record things that are important to me. 

I've had a hard time with hearing about Karen's death and I think it is because she will always be linked to Trace's death and also my mom's accident. Right after Trace died is when Karen found out she had a form of lung cancer and would only have a few months to live. It was a big shock and hard news to deal with when you are already in the pits of grief. Also my Aunt Karen is who my mom was visiting in Mexico when she had her accident- it is also about the last time Karen seemed to feel good and things went downhill pretty quickly after that (only about 6 short months ago). 

Despite everything, Karen went on to live for over three years after her diagnosis and I was proud of her for living out the rest of her life the way she wanted. I think that is a brave thing to do and something we should all strive for. I asked my mom if she thought Karen had any regrets about her life and my mom said very surely- no, she did what she wanted and lived her life the way she wanted. I think that is good advice for all of us. How often do we not follow our hearts or our dreams because we feel scared or confined to the lives we already lead? 

This photo was taken two years ago before my brothers wedding and I was so glad that Karen came out to my house for a breakfast and a visit. I love this photo of her because even though she is battling cancer I thought she looked very happy and full of life. I know it is one of my grandma's favorites too so I am happy that I could bless someone with a photo (something that is important to me!). 

Mom and Karen in Mexico before her accident. I love this photo! I am so happy my mom decided to take this trip even though it ended in a bad way. She had never traveled by herself anywhere and I do think she deserved a vacation just for herself! 

When I was 14, a freshman in high school, I took a trip to NYC with my mom, aunt Karen and my grandma. We had a really fun time in this kind of a spur of the moment trip led by Aunt Karen. It was one of the only big trips I had taken before college and the first time I flew on an airplane. It really opened my eyes to a world that was bigger than my hometown and inspired a love of musical theater (we saw 3 shows in 4 days!). Karen and I had fun buying berets and fake oakleys from guys on the street (they were a good deal!). We stayed at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square and I would love to go back someday. 

Another fun time was when Scott and I visited aunt Karen in Montrose, CO. She was working as a snowshoe guide at Telluride Ski Resort and invited us out for spring break in 2007. We planned the trip very last minute but I am so glad we did. She called me and said she wanted us to come visit and I was like, "now?? In like two weeks?" and of course that is what she meant so Scott and I booked our plane tickets and headed out. We enjoyed ourselves with free ski passes for three days and a beautiful place to stay at her home she built with her former husband. I am so happy we did that as we got to spend lots of time with Karen and Richard and got to know their lives in Colorado. 

I will never forget the morning when Karen and I went snowshoeing in the mountains and she looked so beautiful and at peace in the snow. 

I wanted to include the obituary in the local paper that was read at her memorial service this past weekend. I thought this was a good place to put it so I don't lose it! 
Karen died peacefully at home with her loving husband Richard Walters on May 25, 2014. She will be dearly missed by her family and many friends.
Karen was born in Postville, Iowa, on Aug. 14, 1962. She graduated from high school in 1980, but two serious accidents resulting in a broken jaw and broken leg temporarily interrupted her college career. After graduating from CSU in 1986 she moved to Arizona to work for Motorola. She moved back to Colorado three years later to complete a Masters in Telecommunications at Denver University in 1993. She worked in telecom software development for 4 years and then became a founding employee of Peak Software Solutions. Karen often said that being included in the Peak adventure changed her life.
Karen lovingly cared for her first Golden Retriever, Sarah, for 18 years. She found her second golden, Sundance, after moving to Montrose in 2005. Most importantly, she met the love of her life, Richard. She and Richard hiked and mountain biked the Colorado mountains, and camped and fished the high lakes accompanied by Sundance and Richard’s lab, Bridger. Karen was a true partner in Richard’s construction business, Hogback Builders, where she managed the bookkeeping, billing, and customer relations. They realized a dream together and bought a condo on the beach in Punta Mita, Mexico, where they mountain biked and SUP-boarded. Karen continued her outdoor pursuits for as long as possible throughout her illness, even when practicing yoga on the deck of their home in Colona was all she could manage. Her family and friends in Colorado plan a celebration of her life on June 28, 2014.  All are welcome to attend. 


Karen will definitely be missed by me and my family and her life and battle with cancer is an inspiration to me. She said that she loved to look at sweet Trace's newborn announcement and was comforted by the fact that she would get to meet him in heaven. We don't know what time is like in heaven but the years might seem like seconds and hopefully we will all be reunited someday. 


  1. Your aunt sounds like an amazing woman. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  2. Rose -- it sounds like your Aunt Karen was a positive (and fun!) role model for you over the years. I'm glad you have these memories and were able to experience her uplifting attitude about life. I admire those people, too. My prayers are with your family.

  3. Rose-- what a special lady! Some people wait until they get bad news like cancer to really start living, but your Aunt Karen looks like someone who did that all along. I can tell by her pictures that she was a beautiful person inside and out-- that must be a trait that runs in the women in your family. :) I'm so sorry for your loss, I know she is very missed. -lh

  4. Oh Rose you have been through so much. I'm so sorry for your loss but know she'll be watching over you and your family. What a special post... thank you for sharing. Prayers to you and your family. God Bless.


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