The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.

--Irving Berlin
  • 74 years old
  • Born on December 18, 1941 .
  • Passed away on April 26, 2016 in Rancho Mirage, California, United States.

Karen L. Atwell, née Phelps, of Yucca Valley, passed away April 26th, 2016 at age 74. She was born in Albany, California to Cyril and Merle (Sartor) Phelps on December 18th, 1941. She later moved with her family to Compton, California. She skipped a grade at Emerson Elementary and attended Compton High School where she wrote for the school newspaper and was a member of the yearbook commitee.

When first married, Karen lived with her first husband, Tom Atwell, in Santa Barbara, California. She and her family then lived briefly in Oxnard and then on a ranch in Sunland before settling in Fountain Valley for five years. Her family then moved to Parker, Colorado for another five years before returning to California to live in Huntington Beach. Karen later returned to Colorado and lived in Denver for 14 years before retiring with her second husband, Bob Carroll, in Yucca Valley, California.

Karen began working at 16, and was highly valued by her employers and coworkers alike at Commercial Credit, GM, Ultrasystems, the City of Huntington Beach, the City of Aurora, and Yucca Valley High School.

Wherever she went, Karen made many friends. She was quick-witted, fun-loving, vivacious, generous and charismatic, and she had a flair for mischief and madcap fun. She loved helping down-and-out people and pets, volunteering at homeless shelters and animal shelters. She was adventurous and enjoyed taking “mystery trips” to unknown destinations. She also loved beaches and basking in the sun. In their retirement, Karen and Bob enjoyed RV excursions with their dog Ginger. Karen liked film festivals and live theater and was a voracious reader.

Karen was very fortunate to have found a soulmate and loving companion in her husband Bob. In the last 20 + years, Karen and Bob enjoyed countless roadtrips, cruises, getaways and adventures together; they indulged in their love of antiquing and car shows together; and they welcomed 10 grandchildren to the world between them. Karen loved Bob deeply, and he was the most devoted husband she could have ever asked for.  

She leaves behind her beloved husband Bob Carroll of Yucca Valley; her son Michael Atwell of San Diego; her daughter and son-in-law, Melissa and Peter Spurr of Joshua Tree; her sister Vivian Newton of Huntington Beach and Vivian’s children and grandchildren; her granddaughter, Amelia; her husband’s children whom she loved dearly, Robert Carroll, Jr., Angela Carroll, Maria Carroll and Vanessa Varney and 9 beloved grandchildren through them. She also leaves behind her cat, Lois, and her much adored rescue dogs, Dexter and Dolly.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Cyril and Merle Phelps, her brother, Ronald G. Phelps, and her nephew, William "Billy" Newton.

A celebration of Karen's life will be held on Wednesday, May 11th at 4:00 p.m. at Wiefel’s Funeral Chapel in Yucca Valley at 57285 Yucca Trail, Yucca Valley, CA 92284. A reception at Karen and Bob's home in Yucca Valley will follow.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the American Cancer Society and/or the Morongo Basin Humane Society (

Posted by Susan Chapel on 3rd May 2016
Bob and Family, So sorry to hear of your loss. May you find comfort and peace through your loving memories of Karen.
Posted by Lyle York on 3rd May 2016
She always had a smile for anyone she came across. Karen, you and Bob have been missed since leaving Colorado.
Posted by Vivian Newton on 3rd May 2016
Karen - Rest in peace. Bill Champion (Compton)
Posted by Marilyn Cross on 2nd May 2016
I enjoyed knowing Karen while she was in Colorado. She had a great sense of humor and a very positive attitude. She will be missed.
Posted by Rick Solomon on 2nd May 2016
I feel blessed to have known Karen, a truly special person with so many fine qualities.
Posted by Linda Fauland on 1st May 2016
I am forever blessed to have had Karen in my life for 30+ years! She was the funnest person I have ever spent time with - Thank you for your love and support - and the gut laughs we shared for years! We will miss you forever! All our love, Herb & Linda Fauland
Posted by Jinnie Laturnus on 1st May 2016
I am thankful that God put Karen in our life. She was complete JOY to our family. She helped me in so many ways! A VERY PRECIOUS PERSON! Jinnie Langbauer Laturnus

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