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 person 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 Juliana Sweet on July 31, 2019
Thank you Mom for the legacy of love and family you and Dad created for me. Miss and love you more than words.
Posted by Bill Van Plew on July 30, 2019
Today would be 53 years of marriage, but we only made 45. Loved everyone with you. Happy Anniversary Karen.
Posted by Lisa Van Plew-Cid on March 11, 2019
Hey, Mom. Both of us having birthdays again. As you know, I turned “50” on this one! A lot of thoughts and thoughts of you. I realized I was already 28 when you turned 50. My kids are 12 and 8! Our lives are so different in many ways, but we are very much the same. We are passionate, creative, strong-willed, and fiercely committed to our family. I think of how you always wanted me to “slow down” and that my energy “exhausted” you. I never quite knew what you meant, but I do now. Still busy, Mom, but I approach life with a more relaxed energy. I don’t feel as if I have as much to “prove” anymore and want to spend the next years I am fortunate to have living what I know and to just be. I think you would be impressed and happy that I am finally coming to this understanding! But we don’t have time to waste. Losing you reminds me how every day we have is a gift. I am really spending time acknowledging what I want for the next part of my life and plan to pursue it sooner than later. Still figuring out what this “shift” is going to look like. I have been hearing your voice in my head often and I am listening. Please stay with me. I don’t want to walk the rest of this journey without my mom. I do need you. I appreciate your words even when I didn’t want to hear them or understand them. I hear them now and am glad you were stubborn enough to tell me “anyway”.
Posted by Kristen Poniatowski on March 11, 2019
Mom, for your birthday today, I'm posting a feather. The reason for this is because this is how I picture you. Weightless and floating around to watch over your loved ones. I came through a pretty dark few months. I know you were with me. You even gave me the gift of a dream visit. I think about you every day. I see Sam grow and wish I could see you interacting with him. He would LOVE you so much. I talk to him about you. He knows you loved turtles, so every time he sees one, he mentions you. He will know his Mor Mor. He will love you in his own way and I know you're watching over him. I can't believe it's been over seven years since I saw you last. You are always present, though. You will never be forgotten. Happy Birthday, Mom. I hope you're enjoying it with all of the family who has gone before you. Love and miss you always. Love, Kristen
Posted by Maribeth Trueblood on March 11, 2019
What I remember most about Karen was her compassion. The first time I met Karen, we were attending a fundraiser at a country club. I am sure that Karen had attended many of these events in the past, but she totally focused on other people, to make them feel comfortable. She was interested and kind. After a long week of work, she could’ve been home relaxing, but she did not let that keep her from being interested in other people and showing them kindness.
Posted by Juliana Sweet on March 11, 2019
When I realized it was your birthday today I started having a panic attack...not sure why it manifested in anxiety opposed to sadness. Deborah was able to quell the panic by reminding me that you (and all those whom we’ve lost) would not want to see us suffering but to remember you with light and love. She’s so brilliant Mom, you would be so proud of all she has accomplished including her ability to apply peace and understanding to her challengening journey. Your love of family and ALWAYS wanting us together is the reason our family ties are so strong and deep. Thank you for your visits. Thank you for your love and thank you for (still) being the world’s greatest Mom and best friend. I know you are in a place of love and light and I pray that by knowing that I will be bathed in it as well. BUT, just so you know, I still vote NO with my entire being. I will once again light your candle and bathe myself in your all encompassing love and peace. I love you Karen Alma-MTA.
Posted by William Van Plew on March 11, 2019
Remembering you on you birthday and our life together. Love always!
Posted by Kristen Poniatowski on November 26, 2018
Mom, this year has been extremely hard. Almost as if you just left. As I'm adjusting to this "new normal," memories of you begin to fade. It still doesn't seem real, sometimes. This scares me. How I long for the days when we would just spend time together. Watching movies, catching up and just hanging out being silly and laughing. I'd gladly go shopping at Target for hours with you if I could. I wish I could see you meet Sam. It's crazy that he doesn't know you. I've showed him your pictures and talk about you more now that he understands. He even asks about you. Thank you for all of the little signs you've given me to show me you're still "around." I cherish those moments. You will never be forgotten, Mom. My love for you is as strong as it every was. I hope you're enjoying your new surroundings. I look forward to the day I can hug you again. Love and kisses forever. Kristen ❤️
Posted by Jane Slavin on November 25, 2018
Another year has passed and I miss you just as much. I reconnected with Rena this past year and told her all about you. How much fun would it have been for the three of us to have gotten together! This is one of the saddest things to me...the things we might have had time to do together when we were both retired. Love you and your family always, my dear friend.  ❤️
Posted by William Van Plew on July 30, 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 William Van Plew on March 11, 2018
Remembering you on your birthday and our life together. Love always.
Posted by Kristen Poniatowski on March 11, 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 Juliana Sweet on March 11, 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 Maribeth Trueblood on March 12, 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 March 11, 2017
Remembering you, with love, and our life together on your birthday!
Posted by William Van Plew on November 24, 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 Juliana Sweet on November 24, 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 July 30, 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 March 12, 2016
Karen was such an amazing person and filled with kindness and consideration for everyone!
Posted by William Van Plew on March 11, 2016
Remembering you on your birthday. Still missing our life together.
Posted by Juliana Sweet on March 11, 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 Penny Smith on March 11, 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 Jane Slavin on March 11, 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 November 24, 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 July 30, 2015
Remembering our wedding day and the 45 years together that followed. Still missing you.
Posted by Jane Slavin on March 11, 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 William Van Plew on March 11, 2015
Thinking of you on your birthday. Still missing our life together.
Posted by Elsa Przybysz on November 24, 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 William Van Plew on November 24, 2014
I think about you ever day, but today more than ever. Forever grateful for your love.
Posted by Penny Smith on November 24, 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 Jane Slavin on November 24, 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 Kristen Poniatowski on November 16, 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 July 30, 2014
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart! I miss you.
Posted by Kristen Poniatowski on March 21, 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 William Van Plew on March 11, 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 Jane Slavin on March 11, 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 Maribeth Trueblood on March 11, 2014
Karen brought incredible happiness to everyone around her!
Posted by Jane Slavin on November 25, 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 Elsa Przybysz on November 25, 2013
Miss you always and think about you often. So many memories together and lots of good times.
Posted by Penny Smith on November 25, 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 William Van Plew on November 24, 2013
Still loving you, still missing you after this fateful day two years ago.
Posted by William Van Plew on July 29, 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 William Van Plew on July 29, 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 Jane Slavin on March 11, 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 Juliana Sweet on March 11, 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 Juliana Sweet on March 11, 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 March 11, 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 March 11, 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 March 11, 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 March 11, 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

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