"Karen was such a treasure to our neighborhood. From our first meeting at Moss Haven Elementary, her friendship always pushed me to go further and to try new things. Whether it was sharing Girl Scout cookie mom duties with her or picking up adult piano lessons because Karen thought we should renew our skills, she was a force to be reckoned with. You could not tell her 'no.' After our group became empty-nesters, we sat around Karen’s expansive dining room table while a friend described her idea for a book club for the group. The book club became a way for us to stay connected and Karen’s presence always elevated the group. What a treat to hear from a celebrated author’s point of view when discussing a book while enjoying one (or two!) of her famous cookies. She will be dearly missed."
"I can just think about how thoughtfully she contributed in just the last few meetings—not only in discussion but offering to set up the meetings on her Zoom account and recruit one of her friends to lead us through a discussion of Beloved in honor of Toni Morrison. 'Thoughtful' is such an appropriate word to describe Karen. We knew and loved her as a friend and fellow mom and lover of books."
"Fellow book club member Sally Kittles and I were among the last recipients of Karen’s baking largesse. The first Friday in May, Karen had asked several of us by email if we had active dry yeast; she had a project in mind and couldn’t find any in the stores. I kidded that her request for some reason had reminded me of a line from the song Hotel California by the Eagles: “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.” I added that I probably hadn’t had any active dry yeast in the house since about Easter 2008, the last time I, futilely, had planned to make cinnamon rolls. “I’m going to try cinnamon rolls!” she replied. And then, “If they turn out okay, I would be thrilled to share!”
I told her that she was kind to offer but that Sally deserved the reward because Sally actually had active dry yeast and was sharing it. But Sunday morning, the doorbell rang, and there was Karen, retreating after leaving a cinnamon roll on my front porch. We shouted a bit to each other, chitchat, small talk across the yard as she went back to her car, headed to Sally’s with another delivery.
The whole thing touched me more than Karen could have known. Because, you see, sometimes on Sundays when I was a child, my grandmother or my great-aunt or my great-grandmother would bake homemade cinnamon rolls. And they were more than delicious. Just like Karen’s."
"We have continued our book club meetings during this COVID crisis via Zoom, with Karen as host. Last month, as everyone logged on, we were all met with Karen in front of a beach scene, complete with ocean, lounge chairs and umbrellas. She explained to our amusement that she was imagining herself there in this virtual backdrop, as she and Scott had so enjoyed their tropical vacation. It was this contrast of lightness and compassion (baker extraordinaire, expert needleworker, devoted family caregiver) vs. her intensely driven work ethic that made Karen a force to be reckoned with. Sharing time with her has been a privilege and we will all miss her."
-Jill Mackie Rommel
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