Karen Remembered - 2011
Karen Carsten Van Plew
  • 65 years old
  • Date of birth: Mar 11, 1946
  • Place of birth:
    Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Date of passing: Nov 24, 2011
  • Place of passing:
    Wheaton, Illinois, United States
This memorial website was created in loving memory of Karen Carsten Van Plew, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Thanksgiving morning, 2011. She was an extraordinary peron who brightened many lives. We will celebrate her life forever.


Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard Him call;
I turned my back and left it all.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much;
Good friends, good times, a loved
one's touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all too brief;
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your head and share with me,
God wanted me now-He set me free.

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 24th November 2016

"You're light and your life continue to shine in those of us who spent a lifetime bathed in your light and your gifts and those who connected with that light for even a moment.  So many lives have been and will continue to be impacted by your time here with us in body and now in Spirit.  I promise you Mom, you and your legacy of love, family and compassion will live on and on for we will never stop sharing your life with those who knew you and will know you through our stories and remembrances-I solomely promise.  Thank you for being my Mom, best friend and teacher/example of faith and family.  Thank you for helping me not take everything so very seriously and making me feel safe.  Thank you for knowing all my darkness but having faith in me and loving me anyway.  I pray the Angels followed you from the bridge they protected you on and you are in a place of peace and know no more heartache.  I pray you and the rest of the fam (and Malcome) will walk with me on my journey.  Love you more than air.  F & A. Your racehorse straining the leads.

PS. Dad, Brittneyand I were enjoying the catails on the Marsh last week...oh you and those Woman'a Jr. League arrangements.  Cat tails, pine cones, Pussy Willows, Eucalyptus etc.  Acquisitioning stories are some of my favorite of all time!!"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 24th November 2016

"Karen - Here we are again on that fateful morning ... but I take comfort in knowing that you have returned to your full light and are infinitely happy. You left you light burning here also, for all of us to see. Love, Bill"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 30th July 2016

"Today would have been our 50th wedding anniversary. What good fortune I had to meet amazing you and have you fall in love with me, then grow together in love, admiration, loyalty, awareness and parenthood over 48 years. Still in love and missing you."

This tribute was added by Maribeth Trueblood on 12th March 2016

"Karen was such an amazing person and filled with kindness and consideration for everyone!"

This tribute was added by Penny Smith on 11th March 2016

"Oh Karen, such a hole in my life and heart without you.  Nothing is the same.  I never thought about one of us not being here for the other, how could I have been so naive?  I'm grateful for your spiritual presence on my life, I know you are here, but I so deeply miss your physical presence.  I love you forever and ever my BFF, won't we have the best reunion when I get there?  Until then stay by our side, we all need you!  ❤️"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2016

"Happy 70th birthday Mom.  I wish you were here to celebrate. I know how exactly we would have spent this day.  Thank-you for loving and supporting me, I wouldn't be me if it weren't for you.  I pray you are at peace.  We all miss you, remember you, and honor you each and every day. Love you more than air."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 11th March 2016

"Remembering you on your birthday. Still missing our life together."

This tribute was added by Jane Slavin on 11th March 2016

"I will always miss you and love you...and miss the time we could have had together catching up in our retirement. Wasn't meant to be, I guess."

This tribute was added by Jane Slavin on 24th November 2015

"Once again I am left to wonder why life is so random and why your time to leave us came so early. You had, and still have, the sweetest soul, and I miss you more than I can put into words. Please wait for me...we'll get our long-delayed retirement time together yet. I love you."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 30th July 2015

"Remembering our wedding day and the 45 years together that followed. Still missing you."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 11th March 2015

"Thinking of you on your birthday. Still missing our life together."

This tribute was added by Jane Slavin on 11th March 2015

"And once again I'm recalling how we used to celebrate our March birthdays together and how you always reminded me that you shared a birthday with Liza Minelli! We were so lucky to share so many good times, not just in college but also later as young parents. I'm sorry the direction my life took in later years took me to a place where I couldn't see you daily...but it was a miracle we reconnected later on! That means the world to me. Happiest of birthdays, dear friend...I'm sure you'll spend it in your own special way! Love you!"

This tribute was added by Jane Slavin on 24th November 2014

"How I wish you could have seen what fine people your children turned into, what wonderful grandchildren you had, and wish you could have had the time to spend with loving friends in our later years. Most of all, I wish you could have had more time with Bill. You two had a very special love. Miss you, my dear friend."

This tribute was added by Penny Smith on 24th November 2014

"Oh Karen, this is such a hard time of the year.  Every day is hard without you, but it is especially difficult now.  I miss not being able to pick up the phone and talk with you, I miss so many things.   Thank you for walking with me thru my day, and helping as you can.  You were always teaching me things, I wish missing you were not one of those things.  Somehow I never envisioned my life without you.  Missing you never gets easier.  I feel so blessed to have your family to love.  Missing you, missing you, missing you....forever."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 24th November 2014

"I think about you ever day, but today more than ever. Forever grateful for your love."

This tribute was added by Elsa Przybysz on 24th November 2014

"I can't believe it has been three years since we lost Karen.  I miss talking to her and sharing with her."

This tribute was added by Kristen Poniatowski on 16th November 2014

"As we near the third anniversary of the day you said goodbye my heart grows heavier and heavier, Mom. It still doesn't make sense and I so badly want to wrap my arms around you. I see you in my son. I catch him smiling and babbling, sometimes, at what seems to be nothing, but I have a sneaking suspicion it is you he sees. I love and miss you so much, Mom. XOXO"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 30th July 2014

"Happy Anniversary Sweetheart!  I miss you."

This tribute was added by Kristen Poniatowski on 21st March 2014

"I've been thinking about you so much, lately, Mom. I really hope you are here with me and can see how wonderful your grandson is. How I wish I could see him smile when he looks at you!!! XOXO"

This tribute was added by Maribeth Trueblood on 11th March 2014

"Karen brought incredible happiness to everyone around her!"

This tribute was added by Jane Slavin on 11th March 2014

"As always, happy birthday to one of my dearest friends ever. We used to celebrate a few of our birthdays together, as I recall. Still regret that we were never given the opportunity to finish our journey. I love your family with all my heart and will do anything they need if they ask. I wish I could do more. Love you, sweetie.  <3"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 11th March 2014

"Happy Birthday Sweetheart! I celebrate your life and our life together  today ... and every day. I miss you so much! Life is empty without you."

This tribute was added by Penny Smith on 25th November 2013

"Dear Karen, as you know, I still struggle with missing you every day.  My life will never be the same without you, this is painful.  I treasure the friendships I have with your loved ones, they always give me such kindness and support.  Samuel, is beautiful, I know you know!  Thank you for watching over us, we all need it, same as when you were on earth.  :).  I keep you tucked in my heart for eternity, and await the time when we can resume our adventures together.  XO"

This tribute was added by Elsa Przybysz on 25th November 2013

"Miss you always and think about you often.  So many memories together and lots of good times."

This tribute was added by Jane Slavin on 25th November 2013

"Another year has passed...how did that happen? Karen's spirit is still alive and well in my heart, and I have loved following Bill's and their children's and grandchildren's adventures. How I wish she were still with us, but I have to accept what I cannot control or influence. Someday we'll have that chance to hug and laugh together again! I really believe that."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 24th November 2013

"Still loving you, still missing you after this fateful day two years ago."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 29th July 2013

"On Our 47th Wedding Anniversary

One by one each year flew by,
since we both said “I do”…
Forty-five years of memories,
shared by me and you.

Our love was intense, devoted and strong,
tested by adversity, emotions and loss,
But we made our way through it,
by supporting each other at all cost."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 29th July 2013

"From big events and celebrations
to simple daily pleasures,
Some tearful times along life’s way,
some joys that can’t be measured…

One by one each year now gone,
but still they’re ours forever…
Each and every memory,
of Forty-five years together!

Still In Love - Bill"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2013

"The Impact of a Life

The love of my life she was
Beautiful inside and out
She brought sunshine into my life
... Help me to figure what life was about

We stood together side by side
Learning all the way
About life and family and the world
And what we tried to say"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2013

"She knew that I was driven
And believed me to be smart
We connected on a level
Of creativity and art

She was proud of my successes
In my career and in my home
She taught me to walk with God
From that I’ll never roam"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2013

"She thought that I was impish
A horse straining its lead
She taught me how to live
With thought, word and deed.

She loved when I was silly
And even when I was loud
She always stood by my side
And said I made her proud"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2013

"She loved for me to sing for her
I was her snuggle bunny
She loved when I made her laugh
She loved when I was funny

She knew how hard I worked
To find success in my career
She taught me to take chances
And not give into fear"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2013

"She was excited I was born
Especially as a boy
I was her final baby
She said I brought her joy

She was proud of me as a Dad
And as her son
She had faith in me-no matter what
Knowing I’d git er done"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2013

"From her family and her friends,
Her patients and cohorts
She touched so many lives
She’ll be always in our hearts"

This tribute was added by Jane Slavin on 11th March 2013

"My dear friend, I will never stop missing you. I remember all the years we shared our March birthdays, and I was so excited when I thought we could possibly do that again some day. I guess we WILL get to do that but not in the way I'd visualized. I know you're watching over us all, and I love you!"

This tribute was added by Louann Hudziak on 1st January 2013

"I worked with Karen for several years at CDH.  We were both new RNs and found our niche in mental health.  I remember Karen as an intelligent, upbeat, kind, giving and simply joyful woman and I am reminded of her when I pass Kristen, her daughter, in the halls of ABBHH where we both work."

This tribute was added by Penny Smith on 24th November 2012

"Karen,
Missing your....
Blonde halo of curls, infectious laugh, quick mind, warm hugs, encouragement, fun, love...."

This tribute was added by Penny Smith on 24th November 2012

"Thankful for....
The blessing and gift of your friendship, which lives forever in my heart and soul."

This tribute was added by Lisa Van Plew-Cid on 24th November 2012

"This day that signifies one year since we lost you has been interesting.Early morning(hours before"the"phone call last year)was anticipatory and emotional,but celebrating Julian's 6th birthday today helped me realize how life continues in reflection of the love you ever encouraged us to understand. Seeing you in a video today was also strangely comforting.I think it is going to be ok, Mom."

This tribute was added by Kristen Poniatowski on 24th November 2012

"Mom, it's hard to believe it's been a year, yet it seems so long ago that you said good-bye. I miss you every day, so today is nothing new. However, it is a day to remember and reflect on who you were and are to so many. Thank you for teaching me about love, strength, faith, compassion and how to simply enjoy the little things. I know you are with me. I feel it now. You will never be gone."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 24th November 2012

"I know I haven’t lost you
Your just in a different space
But I miss your touch and closeness
And your wonderful, loving face"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 24th November 2012

"The many ways that we were one
Now I understand why
So you would live on in my heart
In this you never die"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 24th November 2012

"Once our heart did beat as one
Now mine beats for you
To show the world just who we are
And continue what we do"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 24th November 2012

"No regrets fill my past
That you know is true
For I love you with all my heart
And I know you love me too…."

This tribute was added by Jane Slavin on 24th November 2012

"How many lives she touched and how the love just flows back to her! That's what impresses me most when I read all these lovely tributes from those who knew and loved her. She may not be where we can see her, but she'll never be gone from our hearts. Dear friend, we will meet again."

This tribute was added by Kristen Poniatowski on 25th October 2012

"As the leaves are falling, so are my tears. Almost a year now since you left...and it feels like yesterday. I miss you, Mom. I miss you so much. XOXO"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 18th October 2012

"The feeling of love is everywhere
As the Autumn times go by
I think of you here and there
Like sun glow in the sky
Days gone of happier times
Like falling leaves drift by
In melancholy memories
Of the life of you and I"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 18th October 2012

"Feelings of a dream in heart
Our love like tones of deep
Everything goes, new will start
Nothing is ours to keep
Garden flowers, falling leaves
Songs of summer leaving
They bring us joy, they bring us grief
Immortality no longer deceiving"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 18th October 2012

"Feelings inside of loneliness
As autumn hues adorn
Reminders of when you left me
That cold November morn
We had our summer dream
Now our time is done
Yesterdays in the autumn stream
Days of remembrance linger on"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 19th July 2012

"A tribute by daughter Kristen-May 13, 2012
"She was beautiful; she was child-like; she was complicated; she was faithful; she was stubborn; she was open-minded; she was nurturing; she was kind; she was funny; she was loving; she was intelligent; she was passionate; she was creative; she was dedicated; she was sensitive; she was opinionated; she was tough; she was gentle...she was my Mom"

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 19th July 2012

"A tribute from Ann Palmer -
"All of us who knew Karen have one thing in common...we knew genuine love and laughter. Her touch was so light but lingers on my heart and never fails to bring a smile to my lips."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 28th May 2012

"The heart hath its own memory
    like the mind,
And in it are enshrined
    the precious keepsakes."
                -- LONGFELLOW
Karen - I miss you."

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2012

"A Time to Celebrate

As we all gather
together as one
Let's celebrate her life
and all that she's done

(She) Was an artist apparent
with the world as her muse
Her talent was creating
whatever it'd choose"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2012

"She had a great husband
whose devotion was clear
They walked through the unknown
with each other near

As a mother she rose
above all the rest
She supported and nurtured
her HUGS were the BEST

She loved friends and family
and the things that we'd share
The Wren up in Harbert
her heart is still there"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2012

"Invaluable her friendship
always she'd share
Your heartache, your joys
with compassion and care

She was humbled by nursing
for she felt it her call
And she was there to listen
and much loved by all

She was young and vivacious
taking care of a home
With all its responsibilities
never making it known"

This tribute was added by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2012

"She's a daughter, a wife,
a mother, a friend
So much to so many
this can't be the end

So she'll be here with us
in our hearts she will go
And she'll live on forever
for we all love her so.

I love you Mom. You are a part of me that NO ONE can take away from me. Happy Birthday. p.s. thanks for the tears, i think. ;)"

This tribute was added by Jane Slavin on 11th March 2012

"Karen and I met at IWU. We lived right down the hall from each other and dated fraternity brothers, so we spent lots and lots of time together. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding, and I took care of the bridal book at hers and Bill's. We both wound up living in Wheaton, and spent nearly every day either talking or together. How I loved, and still love, my friend Karen! Always."

This tribute was added by Darlene Frederick on 5th March 2012

"I first met Karen in 1963 as a freshman at SW Hall on the IWU campus, when she and Bill first met each other and fell in love.  She was beautiful, sweet and so much fun to be around.  She studied art and I was a nursing student, so most of our time together was after classes (and usually after Karen's dates with Bill), but we had alot of laughs.  I am so very sorry to hear of her passing"

This tribute was added by Maribeth Trueblood on 19th February 2012

"The first time I met Karen was in 2005 at an employer-sponsored dinner. She was warm and welcoming, a good listener and interested in other people. She and her husband, Bill, shared everything and together they had a big impact on my life. Always lively and youthful, Karen brought joy to her whole family."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 17th February 2012

"A tribute from Jeanie High -
I remember our days as new mothers. We were so young with no clue of where life might take us. Karen always seemed very centered. She was a beautiful, free-spirited, intelligent and caring person. I always felt she found her soul-mate in her husband, Bill."

This tribute was added by William Van Plew on 16th February 2012

"A tribute by James and Geri Smith
We have known Karen for many years. Sensitive, funny and so kind and thoughtful, she had a personality everyone loved. James and I were so very happy when Karen and our daughter, Penny, decided to go to nursing training together. Many times things happen that remind us of Karen. She will always be with us in our memories."

This tribute was added by JoAnne Lee on 16th February 2012

"While we did not know Karen in life we have recently had the privilege
of meeting her family. Her family is a testament to the wonderful person that she was and her strong influence continues to shine on in her family & friends.    JoAnne & Holly"

This tribute was added by Kristen Poniatowski on 1st February 2012

"My mother was, to me, above all things, a "mom." She was always there if I was sick and needed her counsel on how to get well, she empathized with me during my struggles, supported me with my dreams, and, whenever she could, gave me the best hugs anyone could ever ask for. Despite our differences, she loved me unconditionally, and taught me to do the same. I miss her dearly..."

This tribute was added by Don Leo on 26th January 2012

"My contribution comes as one who shared just moments with Karen in the Crisis Unit at CDH.  As one of the chaplains, for a number of years I had the privilege of leading a weekly group on Spirituality.  I gained a sense of Karen's wonderfully warm and friendly manner.  She was clearly trusted and appreciated by the patients.  Her co-workers truly valued her friendship and leadership."


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William Van Plew

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