Karen died peacefully on November 16, 2019, with her loving husband Phil, of 61 years, by her side.
Karen was born on June 22, 1937, in Lansing, Michigan, to the late Albert and Ester (Vuori) Berg. She was a 1955 graduate of J.W. Sexton High School and went on to complete two years of studies at Michigan State University.
Karen and Phil were married on May 17, 1958, at Grace Lutheran Church in Lansing, where she was a faithful member for many years. She subsequently joined Phil in Huntsville, Alabama, for one year while he completed his service in the US Army. Upon returning to Lansing from Huntsville, Karen worked at the Michigan State University College of Education, supporting Phil while he completed his Master’s degree in Mathematics.
In the following years, Karen focused on raising her family and doing freelance writing—or “playing with words” as she often described it. She eventually returned to Michigan State University on a part-time basis and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1977.
Karen then began a successful 20-year career with the Lansing State Journal as a reporter and columnist of the daily “People” column. Interestingly, as a young teenager working on a school assignment, Karen interviewed Virginia Redfern, a society columnist with the Lansing State Journal. Similar in nature to Ms. Redfern’s much earlier work, Karen’s column was filled with good news stories about people in the Lansing area.
In recognition of her career accomplishments, Karen was named J.W. Sexton High School’s 1990 alumnus of the year, and was thrilled to give the commencement address to the graduating class that same year.
She was an active member of the Lansing community throughout her life. When her children were young, she served with many volunteer organizations including Brownies, Girls Scouts, Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and the PTA. She also volunteered for Sparrow Hospital at the Information Desk and in the Emergency Room.
Upon retirement from the Lansing State Journal in 1998, Karen served on the Sparrow Hospital Women’s Board of Managers and the Lansing Town Hall Board. She also was a member of the Sparrow Hospital Archives Committee for many years.
As the daughter of a Swedish father and Finnish mother, Karen was extremely proud of her heritage. She was a member of the Greater Lansing Scandinavian Society and she wrote and published a Scandinavian cookbook called “Coffee with Mama,” which sold several hundred copies.
Additionally, music was very important to Karen. When she was young, she played the piano, sometimes accompanying her father’s violin performances. She also sang in the MSU Women’s Glee Club, and in her retirement, she participated in the local “Social Security Scandals” variety shows for several years.
Karen enjoyed traveling with Phil, and they visited many different places throughout the United States and Canada. They also made several trips to Sweden and Finland, enjoying their time with Karen’s relatives.
Karen was predeceased by her parents, her sister, Anita (Bob) Horwood and her in-laws, Maclin and Constance Douglas. She is survived by her devoted and adoring husband, Phil, and her two loving daughters, Wendy (Scott) Bates of Stanton, Michigan, and Lisa (Robert) Rossi of Oakville, Ontario. She will be greatly missed by her much-loved grandchildren, Lexi (Shawn) Quirin of Frankenmuth, Michigan, Morgan Bates, Aaron Bates and Dylan Bates, all of Stanton, Michigan, Matthew Rossi of Hamilton, Ontario, and Erika Rossi of Kelowna, British Columbia.
She is also survived by nieces Kristine (Roger) Malkowski, Kathy (Joseph) Mohr, nephew Steven (Ginger) Benson and many cousins in Sweden and Finland.
The family wishes to thank the compassionate and caring staffs of Burcham Hills, Robinwood Landing Alzheimer’s Special Care Center and Michigan Premier Hospice.
The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, November 23, 2019, at Grace Lutheran Church, 528 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Lansing, MI 48915, with Pastor John Schleicher officiating. Interment will follow in Deepdale Memorial Gardens, Lansing. Karen’s family will receive friends on Friday from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel, and also one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Grace Lutheran Church or the Alzheimer’s Association (Capital Area Regional Office) in Karen’s memory.
Upon her passing, one of Karen’s friends described her as a “good soul,” which eloquently summarizes her well-lived life as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend.