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.
  • 65 years old
  • Born on March 11, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois, United States.
  • Passed away on November 24, 2011 in Wheaton, Illinois, United States.


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.

Posted by William Van Plew on 30th July 2018
Fifty-two years ago today we said "til death do us part". I'm still here and you're not, but I still miss you and love you. Looking forward to when we connect again.
Posted by Juliana Sweet on 11th March 2018
I celebrate you every day I light your candle to light my way physically missed...you forever are but your spirit is with me..always in my heart. Mom, we promise your legacy and love will remain alive and with us forever and that your spirit and memories of you will be passed on....never to be forgotten.
Posted by Kristen Poniatowski on 11th March 2018
Happy Birthday, Mom. Not a day goes by that I don't think about and miss you. I take you with me everywhere I go. Love you forever, Kristen. XOXO
Posted by William Van Plew on 11th March 2018
Remembering you on your birthday and our life together. Love always.
Posted by Maribeth Trueblood on 12th March 2017
Just hearing about Karen inspired my admiration -- how she was an amazing wife, mother, grandmother and nurse. She was so nice to me the evening we shared at the St Charles Country Club. I am sure that she is continually missed...
Posted by William Van Plew on 11th March 2017
Remembering you, with love, and our life together on your birthday!
Posted 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!!
Posted 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 your light burning here also, for all of us to see. Love, Bill
Posted 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.
Posted by Maribeth Trueblood on 12th March 2016
Karen was such an amazing person and filled with kindness and consideration for everyone!
Posted 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! ❤️
Posted 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.
Posted by William Van Plew on 11th March 2016
Remembering you on your birthday. Still missing our life together.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted by William Van Plew on 30th July 2015
Remembering our wedding day and the 45 years together that followed. Still missing you.
Posted by William Van Plew on 11th March 2015
Thinking of you on your birthday. Still missing our life together.
Posted 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!
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted by William Van Plew on 24th November 2014
I think about you ever day, but today more than ever. Forever grateful for your love.
Posted 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.
Posted 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
Posted by William Van Plew on 30th July 2014
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart! I miss you.
Posted 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
Posted by Maribeth Trueblood on 11th March 2014
Karen brought incredible happiness to everyone around her!
Posted 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
Posted 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.
Posted 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
Posted by Elsa Przybysz on 25th November 2013
Miss you always and think about you often. So many memories together and lots of good times.
Posted 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.
Posted by William Van Plew on 24th November 2013
Still loving you, still missing you after this fateful day two years ago.
Posted 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.
Posted 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
Posted 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
Posted 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
Posted 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
Posted 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
Posted 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
Posted 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
Posted 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!
Posted 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.
Posted by Penny Smith on 24th November 2012
Karen, Missing your.... Blonde halo of curls, infectious laugh, quick mind, warm hugs, encouragement, fun, love....
Posted by Penny Smith on 24th November 2012
Thankful for.... The blessing and gift of your friendship, which lives forever in my heart and soul.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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
Posted 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
Posted 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
Posted 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….

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