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Obituary of Karen Leigh JENSON
Karen was born in Ames, Iowa to Earl and Alva (Gray) on January 2,1969. She was the first child, a well celebrated baby with visits from church members and graduate students who were our family when we were far away from home. Relatives were happy when we moved back to Canada in 1970. Her brother Carl was born in Guelph in 1972 and Karen was a loving big sister to him. We were missing the close presence of grandparents and family in the West and were thankful when Earl could leave the University of Guelph for a position at UBC.
We bought a home in the Mackenzie Heights area of Vancouver. and Karen and Carl enjoyed our home and neighborhood and had regular visits with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Karen attended Bluebird and Dunbar preschool. She started piano lessons and joined Fairview Baptist Church where she became a life time member. In these early days, she met and made lifelong friends.
She walked to Lord Kitchener for her Elementary schooling.
Brownies and Guides were favorite organizations. She loved camping, fishing and horseback riding. She enjoyed “crafts” and always had little projects on the go, carrying her supplies with her. Soccer, music and swimming lessons took up much of her time. Daily piano scales were practiced on waking up and she started learning the French horn.
At Prince of Wales High School she became more active in the outdoors, becoming a member of the cross-country ski team and camping, hiking and boating in the “Quest” programme. Music continued with playing the French horn in the school and district orchestras. She played jazz piano for the PW band and earned her grade 8 Toronto Conservatory certificate.
She graduated with honours from Prince of Wales and was awarded a Fine Arts scholarship. She was chosen to be part of a Canada wide Honour band that toured Europe. In high school, she became involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She attended Malibu, Anvil Island and Pioneer Pacific Camps and was a camp counsellor and music team leader. She worked at Lake Louise Chateau during the summer. She hiked, biked and went on trail rides and fell in love all over again with the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
Karen went on to study music at the Vancouver Community College (King Edward Campus) and the University of Victoria. She was a member of choirs in the community, at church and UVic.. Her dreams were shattered by the early onset of Schizophrenia. Friends, family, doctors and her indominable spirit and Christian faith helped her live life to the fullest. She was able to live independently and worked hard to continue to learn and use her gifts. She loved nature (especially mountains) and singing. Talents in music, photography, gardening and baking were generously shared. She played the piano at Blenheim Lodge and served tea and did manicures as part of Crossreach services. She also housesat for friends. She enjoyed attending the Vancouver Folk Festival every year. Knitting and sewing was done with good friends. “Tea cozy” making was a specialty. She enjoyed paddling in False Creek on a Dragon boat team, snowshoeing on Grouse Mountain, biking and hiking around the Lower Mainland.
She followed us on our move to Victoria in 2012 after 40 years of living in Vancouver. She found her condo overlooking Beacon Hill Park to be a sanctuary, enjoyed making and experiencing High Tea with friends, discovered thrift stores, church bazaars and got great joy from clothing exchange parties. She sang in the Gettin’ Higher Choir, the Good News choir and a Gospel choir. Work in the rose garden and vegetable garden at Government House was a rewarding volunteer experience. She loved sharing time with her brother Carl and his family (the reason for our move to Victoria). She watched her nieces Lily and Rowan grow and treasured their hugs. She enjoyed family dinners, outings for Fish and Chips, meeting friends for coffee and stopping for treats at Beacon Hill Drive -In or the DQ. Walks in Beacon Hill Park and Butchart Gardens, camera in hand, were inspirational. She was a “Christmas person” and it was a highlight to share special baking projects and celebrations. She became active in the First Met community and made new friends. She worshiped there regularly, joined the Ramblers group for monthly hikes, served on the hospitality team, attended health and wellness sessions, mindfulness, yoga, healing pathways and looked forward to “Soup Sundays”. She continued exploring opportunities. She attended jewelry making courses, painting classes, water fitness, exercise groups, GROW programmes and CBT classes. She was “over the moon” when she was accepted into a gardening programme at Camosun College (Inter Urban campus). She fulfilled her desire of graduating from college. She worked hard in the programme for two years during the progression of her cancer. The warm support and encouragement of the School of Access staff was amazing.
Karen approached her diagnosis of breast cancer with courage. She was grateful to her friends, family and professionals for their support. Her Christian faith helped sustain her. Her gentle cat “Ginger” was a great comfort. She knew she was a beloved child of God and she was able to hear and experience how much she was loved. We all learned a lot from her. She leaves a big hole in our hearts, but we are grateful she is out of her suffering.
Her warm smile, laughter, kindness and loving presence are greatly missed. Her gentle spirit lives on to provide light and comfort to the many who loved her.
She is buried in Royal Oak Burial Grounds, in the Woodlands section in a Garry Oak meadow that will bloom with Camus and is surrounded with a beautiful forested area.
Rest in Peace dear Karen. Shine on.
Friends are invited to a celebration of life to be held on August 8th at First Metropolitan United Church at 2:00 pm The family extend their gratitude to Dr. Galanos, Dr. Shrikhande, Dr. Long, Dr. Sulphur and the BC Cancer specialists, Andrea Hofmeyer and the Oak Bay Unit, Inspire Health and all who have supported us.Memorial donations may be made to the BC Schitzophreia Society, BC Cancer or a charity of your choice.
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