Karen Ann Nelson, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend passed away on January 12, 2019 at the age of 64. Karen was diagnosed with Stage IV uterine cancer in November 2018. She passed away in the comfort of her home surrounded by her family.
Karen was born on October 1, 1954 in Yonkers, New York. She was the daughter of George Cecil Bechtold and Katherine Dorothy O’Brien and big sister to Warren, Donna, Gail, and George. Karen and her siblings were raised in Yonkers. Karen described her childhood home as a family apartment building in a family neighborhood filled with kids. As a child she was always outside playing or walking around with her girlfriends and siblings. After graduating from high school, Karen worked at Home Insurance in Yonkers with her mother. Karen was always up for an adventure, and at the age of 20, she embarked upon her first big one. Karen journeyed across the country, packing up and moving from her familiar home in New York, to begin a new chapter of her life in Southern California. It was there, on her last day working for Home Insurance, that she met Erik, her husband of 34 years. Erik recalls inviting Karen to his housewarming party on Karen’s last day of working for Home Insurance. He did not know it was her last day, and had he not invited her, he would have never seen her again. Luckily, she attended his party. Karen and Erik married on September 26, 1984, and over the following 4 years, welcomed 3 beautiful children into the world. After moving to Phoenix, Arizona in 1988, Karen continued working in insurance. She eventually gave that job up and later became a waitress. After more than 15 years as a waitress, Karen was ready for something new. She was hired on at Discover Card where she worked in various roles, all dealing with customer service, for over a decade. Karen loved talking to people and helping her customers. At Discover she was also the office decorator and left no person’s desk undecorated for their birthday. She loved making people feel special.
Karen was known for her unrelenting faith, teaching religious education at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church for 10 years. She was also known for her passion for helping people, her love of celebrating life and those around her, her selflessness, her creativity, and her love for her family. Her family and friends also know her for her love of shopping and the excitement she exuded when she got a good deal. Throughout Karen’s life her positive attitude, selflessness, sense of humor, and kind spirit made everyone around her love her. This was no different after her diagnosis. Her oncologist rightfully named the positive impact she had on everyone around her “The Karen Effect”.
After diagnosis, Karen received an outpouring of support from her family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Her family states one of the most comforting thoughts is knowing that so many people were able to experience and appreciate what a beautiful soul Karen was. Karen was the best wife, mother, grandmother, and friend any person could have. She touched the lives of many people. She truly understood how impactful her life was from the overwhelming support she received before she passed. For her, it was further confirmation that she fulfilled her purpose on earth and led a life well lived. Her memory lives on in every person blessed to have known her, every act of kindness she bestowed upon us, and in her spirit that lives eternally.
Karen is survived by her husband of 34 years, Erik Nelson, her daughters Kimberly and Kristin, her son Erik Jr, and her granddaughter Abby.
Karen’s funeral service will be held on January 26, 2019 at 1:30 p.m at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church at 330 W. Coral Gables Drive, Phoenix, Arizona. Karen’s family is hosting a Celebration of Life following the service at 3:00 p.m at the Moon Valley Country Club “Sky Room” at 151 W. Moon Valley Drive, Phoenix, Arizona.
In lieu of flowers, Karen’s family is accepting donations to help offset the cost of Karen’s medical bills. Donations can be made to https://www.gofundme.com/nmk658-karens-medical-billsPrint Obituary & Condolences