Love and memories last forever...
  • 61 years old
  • Born on July 8, 1957 .
  • Passed away on May 11, 2019 .

On Saturday, May 11, 2019, Karen L. Kovacs, age 61, of Brick, New Jersey, passed away at Ocean Medical Center in Brick, New Jersey surrounded by her family and friends. Born in 1957, Karen spent her childhood in Freeport, Illinois where she was the second oldest of five daughters born to Kenneth and Dolores Fransen. Karen graduated from Freeport High School in 1975 without the use of bribery, falsifying documents, or intimidation tactics. Her high school’s mascot was and still is a pretzel. To this day, anecdotes about Karen being a Freeport Pretzel are still shared during informal conversations and get-togethers to provide levity.

Following Karen’s short-term employment as a telephone operator, Karen enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving from 1976 to 1980. In addition to being a cook in the Air Force, Karen spent those four years enjoying international travel and cuisine. She recorded her memories with photographs, filling numerous albums with pictures of European culture. While stationed in Hahn, Germany, Karen met her future husband, Christopher, while she was out on a date with another man. Obviously, the original suitor did not capture her heart because Karen and Christopher were married in a civil ceremony in Woodbridge, New Jersey in August of 1978. As newlyweds, Karen was stationed in Montana, while her husband was stationed in Germany Eventually, Christopher joined his wife in Montana, and together they returned to New Jersey, where she spent the next 40 years of her life. In October 1980, Karen gave birth to her first child, Istvan, and just 15 months later in January 1982 her second child, Heather, swiftly escaped her womb sparing her mother of a C-section scheduled later that month.

Diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 1984, Karen did not have the opportunity to spend her adult years being the wife and mother she wanted to be. MS immediately robbed her of intelligible speech, mobility, and dexterity. Of course, she was frustrated and disappointed, but Karen was resilient. Karen remained with her family in Carteret until 1986 when second floor apartment living became unsafe and impractical. Karen and Christopher purchased their first house in Madison Park (Old Bridge) in 1986. During those 14 years in Old Bridge, Karen found new hobbies to occupy her time. She spent a lot of time reading, typing letters to family, studying the bible, writing book reports for her kids, and turning into a bright red Jersey tomato as she enjoyed sitting outside on the deck in the sun.  As the internet evolved, she became a computer wizard. She took quickly to using email, chat rooms, doing online research, and gaming. Karen was passionate about Genealogy, spending hours daily researching and documenting anything and everything on her maternal and paternal side of the family. Her family tree became the Hundred Acre Woods.

In 2001, Karen and her family made the move to Ocean County, purchasing a beautiful house on the border of Point Pleasant and Brick. Then, in 2006, she moved to the West Mantoloking section in Brick, where she enjoyed the next several years watching the crazy antics of the backyard ducks and keeping her spying eyes on all the marine traffic coming through the lagoon. She spent a lot of time in her office, hanging out with her spoiled orange cat Ariel, while playing games on her computer, checking her emails, working on Genealogy, watching Disney movies and disaster films, and making secret plans to take over the world.

As Karen’s conditioned worsen, she was more comfortable staying in bed. Yet, this incredible woman still maintained a positive attitude and never thought any day would be her last. Everyone will remember Karen for her smile, along with her unquenchable thirst for cappuccino. She appreciated everyone who acknowledged her value, seeing more than just the physical deterioration of her body, but recognizing her as the capable and intelligent woman she was. Anyone who took the time to demonstrate appreciation for her kindness, generosity, humor, and love certainty made an impact on the quality of her life.  As much as she needed us, we needed her. She was a constant in our lives.

Karen will be fondly remembered by her husband Christopher Kovacs, her son Istvan Kovacs (wife Mary), her daughter Heather Kovacs (husband Ken Schroeck, Jr.), her grandson Jayden Schroeck, her sisters Donna Fransen, Diana Herbst (husband Dan), Lorraine Prindle (husband Tom), and Kelly Stricker (husband Chris), and several nieces and nephews as well as her children’s in-laws who will miss Karen’s laugh and radiant smile. Karen is also survived by her best friend and virtual assistant Amazon Alexa, who provided her human counterparts much needed relief with changing the TV channels. Karen is predeceased by her parents, Kenneth and Dolores Fransen and her spoiled rotten cat, Ariel.

Funeral arrangements at the Fertig Funeral Home in Mullica Hill, NJ do not include visitation. A private closed casket service is scheduled for Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 10:30 am at the Steelmantown Natural Burial Grounds Cemetery in Woodbine, New Jersey. A memorial talk is scheduled to take place at a later date. As an expression of sympathy, memorial donations to honor Karen may be made to: Monmouth County ASPCA  at https://monmouthcountyspca.org


Posted by Linda Schroeck-Connors on May 19, 2019
Karen I consider myself honored to have become a part of your family. My son was lucky enough to fall in love with your beautiful daughter Heather and eventually married. I will never forget their wedding day. You had an absolutely beautiful blue dress on and you never stopped smiling the entire evening. I can remember Heather taking you on the dance floor and dancing with you. I loved seeing how happy you were and I remember telling you how beautiful you were and as always you were full of smiles. This was the day of two families became one. I couldn’t ask for a better in-law family. Then both of our families were blessed to become first time grandparents the same day to our sweet grandson Jayden. We sat in the waiting area to see Heather Ken and Jayden and we were all excited. I will never forget the glow in your eyes and beautiful smile on your face when you placed your eyes on our beautiful grandson. I’ll never forget Heather coming over to you and helping you hold him. I had tears in my eyes then as I do now. As a joined family thanks to our wonderful children we experienced some great times and very memorable moments. These are moments I will always treasure and never forget. I know you know this beyond the shadow of a doubt but you have an amazing family that stood by you and took wonderful care of you even though no matter the challenge you attempted your best to remain independent. I admired your courage. I faced my medical condition and just wanted to give up. Still don’t have the courage or strength you have and mine don’t even compare to the challenges you have. I hope I can use you as a role model and find just a tiny bit of the strength you had so I can fight my medical challenge. Karen you were an amazing lady with the most amazing family I ever met. Despite your challenges you and Chris did a fantastic job and I know you are proud of Istvan and Heather and their families. You were loved by so many. I hope you keep that smile on your face. I can’t picture you without it. We love you and we will do our best to help your family through their difficult loss of the best mom and wife in the world.
Posted by Vicki Seeman on May 14, 2019
Karen and I both started working as telephone operators in Freeport while in high school, then we both joined the U.S. Air Force. A shame we didn't get to go to Lackland for training at the same time, then maybe we would have gotten stationed together too, but I guess it was for the best since we both met our husbands-to-be while at our first duty station, Karen in Germany and me in the Azore Islands. After that, we both got married but were unable to attend each other's wedding. We did keep in touch sending photos and letters through the years and did get together one summer in Freeport and got to meet each other's family and what made it really special was that Rosemary and her family were also there, so for a short time, the 3 friends were together once again.
Posted by Donna Fransen on May 14, 2019
Karen, you are leading this journey ahead this time. Let me know where all the good coffee shops are so we can drink our fill when I get there and finally catch up on all we've done. I love you, little sister.
Posted by Rosemary Havens on May 15, 2019
Many happy memories of Karen going back to the pretzel days. Always had a smile and joking around.

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