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 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
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 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 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 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
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 Louann Hudziak on January 1, 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 William Van Plew on November 24, 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 Jane Slavin on November 24, 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.
Posted by William Van Plew on November 24, 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….
Posted by William Van Plew on November 24, 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 November 24, 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 Kristen Poniatowski on November 24, 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 Lisa Van Plew-Cid on November 24, 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 Penny Smith on November 24, 2012
Thankful for....
The blessing and gift of your friendship, which lives forever in my heart and soul.
Posted by Penny Smith on November 24, 2012
Missing your....
Blonde halo of curls, infectious laugh, quick mind, warm hugs, encouragement, fun, love....
Posted by Kristen Poniatowski on October 25, 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
Posted by William Van Plew on October 18, 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
Posted by William Van Plew on October 18, 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
Posted by William Van Plew on October 18, 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
Posted by William Van Plew on July 19, 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
Posted by William Van Plew on July 19, 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.
Posted by William Van Plew on May 28, 2012
The heart hath its own memory
  like the mind,
And in it are enshrined
  the precious keepsakes."
        -- LONGFELLOW
Karen - I miss you.
Posted by Juliana Sweet on March 11, 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
Posted by Juliana Sweet on March 11, 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
Posted by Juliana Sweet on March 11, 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
Posted by Juliana Sweet on March 11, 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. ;)
Posted by Jane Slavin on March 11, 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.
Posted by Darlene Frederick on March 5, 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
Posted by Maribeth Trueblood on February 19, 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.
Posted by William Van Plew on February 17, 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.
Posted by William Van Plew on February 16, 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.
Posted by JoAnne Lee on February 16, 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
Posted by Kristen Poniatowski on February 1, 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...
Posted by Don Leo on January 26, 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.
Page 2 of 2

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Kristen Poniatowski on November 24, 2020
I can't believe nine years have passed since you left. I guess it's because, although your physical body is gone, you've never left my heart. You are always with me, Mom, and I try to honor your memory every day. You are especially heavy on my mind today, but I will try to fill it with wonderful memories i share with you. I love you so much, now and FOREVER!! ❤️
Posted by Lisa Van Plew-Cid on November 24, 2020
Our Dad had shared this with us in 2012, a year after you passed. I had forgotten until I came across it again a few days ago. I needed to hear and be reminded again, and will keep this poem with me. It brings me comfort to think you are near. My heart aches for you, Mom.

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Henry Scott Holland ~ 1847-1918
Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral ~ London.
Posted by Bill Van Plew on July 30, 2020
Another anniversary. Time goes by so quickly. 54 years ago we two kids started out so much in love and stayed that way for 46 years together. So grateful for the journey with you. You remain always in my heart.
Recent stories

Reunited and it feels so good!

Shared by Jane Slavin on March 11, 2015

Yes, after heaven only knows how many years, we reunited in Wheaton! I was visiting my kids in Winfield and we managed to arrange a get-together for breakfast. In addition to Karen and me, son Bob, his daughter Julia, and daughter Cathy joined us. In many ways, it was as if all those intervening years had never happened. We laughed, we cried, we shared tons of pictures, and we probably wore out our welcome in that restaurant. A few months later, I was back in Wheaton for a bridal shower for son Jeff's fiancee, and Karen was, of course, a welcome guest at that party. She and Bill drove out to Dixon for Jeff's wedding in April 2010...sadly, that was our last time to be together, so I'm so glad we spent tons of time together at the wedding reception! We were making plans for retirement get-togethers in the future...she and Bill could visit us in Washington, DC. Wouldn't that have been fun? I feel cheated of that. Miss you, sweetie!  

My Time With Karen

Shared by William Van Plew on July 30, 2014

After hearing Susan Sarandon explain the reason people get married in the movie Shall We Dance, I realized that my purpose in life was to witness Karen's life. I am so grateful she chose me to do so. I celebrate our love everyday and continue to witness her life.

Forty-five years together went by so quickly and we both said we wouldn't change a thing ... except she left too soon. Now I live on wonderful memories and count my blessings.


Shared by Sarah Johnson on April 1, 2012

Karen shared with me every home she had.  It began on Cottonwood Drive in Wheaton.  My mom needed childcare and had gotten Karen’s name from a mutual friend.  Despite the fact that she did not know my mom, and was not really looking to take care of someone else’s child, she decided to open her home to me.  At the age of 2, I began to spend time in Karen’s home on a regular basis.  It is from this home that I began to develop my earliest, deepest friendship and some of my dearest relationships.  Karen’s home became one of my favorite places to be as a child.  It was a place of welcome and acceptance.   A place of chaos and fun.   A place where as a single child, I could imagine and taste the companionship of siblings.  As the friendship between my mom and Karen grew, Karen included us in each and every holiday celebration.  With these celebrations, I took to heart many time honored family traditions, both intentional and casual.  To this day, I feel a strong compulsion to document my children’s lives on video camera.  We decorate Christmas cookies and open pajamas on Christmas Eve.  I reuse the same Easter baskets for my kids each year.  We host 4th of July parties and I covet seeing the fireworks.  I still sing out loud to every Madonna song that I hear.  I macramé.  And I love going to Michigan every summer……

“The Wren” is Karen’s summer home in Harbert, Michigan.  It was built by her father.  It was too old, too small, and too crowded.  It was absolutely fantastic!  It was the only vacation my mom and I ever got to take, and there was nowhere else I would rather go.  After sleeping the night on a folding cot on the enclosed porch, the days began with donuts and pastries from the Swedish bakery just up the street.  Some days there’d be blueberry picking to do, or we’d be dragged along with our moms to go shopping at each and every one of the antique stores along Red Arrow Highway.  After a long morning of shopping, we might grab lunch at the gas station or stop at the old fashioned ice cream parlor that was part of the pharmacy in Sawyer.  Sometimes a group of us kids were allowed to ride the rusted, ill-fitted bikes up to the fruit market or Honeycuts grocery store on our own.  On our way back, we would take shortcuts through the woods and stop by the ponds to try and find frogs.  In the evenings, it was very well understood that showers needed to be short!  There was usually a big discussion among the adults about how to handle dinner.  A regular treat was eating at Redamax in New Buffalo followed by ice cream at Oinks.  But many dinners were made as one big family at the cottage.  These dinners were often very late.  A bonfire was usually started in the lot beyond the cottage.  This is where I learned how to make a damn good smore.  As I got older, I can recall many late nights playing cards and games that mark the American childhood  – Ghost in the Graveyard, Truth or Dare…..And on more than one occasion, after the adults had had too much to drink, we found ourselves skinny dipping after hours down at the Harbert beach! 

For me, the best part of the daytime was going to the beach.  It was close enough to walk, but we preferred to ride our bikes or take the car.  I would always anticipate that first glimpse of the water as I started down the sandy path to the water.  The beach was a different size every year depending on the tide.  We spent hours under the sun and in the water every day.  This is where I learned to swim, fought the waves, and stood on a sandbar for the first time.  We’d search for shells and pretty rocks, walk the shore, and build sand castles.  And in the mist of these thrilling, fun, long, exhausting days, there would be moments of stillness.  We would lie on our beach towels “tanning” ourselves.  I would doze off with the sun warming my face, the wind and surf in my ear, and the shifting of sand beneath my body.  With the love of family and friends, and the beauty of nature and creation surrounding me, those moments brought forth a feeling of closeness to God.    

These days, I have my own home that I share with my husband and 2 kids.  My mom and I still take trips to Michigan where we enjoy staying at the home of Karen’s daughter in nearby Three Oaks.  But there was one home that Karen and I continued to share – Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.  It was Karen’s invitation the brought me to the church home that I still have today.  In my earliest memories, I can see myself sitting with my mom, Karen, and her kids in the back left pews of the church.  Today, I still sit with my mom, but now my husband and kids also share the pews with me.  Despite my son’s success at having us sit in different pews each week, Karen’s back left hand side of the sanctuary is where I will always feel most at home.  When I was married at Faith Lutheran, Karen was one of our readers, and her daughter was my Maid of Honor.  When my first child was baptized, we appointed Karen as the official congregational ‘witness,’ while another of her daughters became Michael’s godmother.  I watched my mother married at Faith Lutheran.  Two weeks after Karen’s passing, I accepted the nomination to serve on the Congregational Council.  She was the first person I longed to share this news with.  Most important of all, she brought me to the home where I have grown in my spirituality and closeness to God. 

The ‘homes’ that Karen shared with me and the people who have filled them, have shaped my life in so many wonderful ways.  I try to carry forth her legacy by opening my homes to others in love the way she did for me.   I try to welcome my children’s friends to our home as much as I can.  I try to invite family and friends to attend worship with me.  I try to stay close to the love ones that Karen brought to my life.  Karen Van Plew will live on in my heart and continue to shape my life forever.