Her Life

The early years...

Karen was born to John and Mary Simpson on February 19, 1940.  She was an only child and spent her childhood and teen years in rural Iowa.  She was a self-described tomboy and enjoyed sports and competitions of all types.  She also enjoyed multi-week road trips with her parents every summer while she was growing up.  She had visited 36 of the 50 states by the time she left for college. 

After graduating from Janesville High School, she initially attended Iowa State, where she was happy to socialize with a huge group of friends.  Unfortunately, all of the socializing resulted in a less than desirable grade point average.  She decided to transfer to Wartburg College, in Waverly Iowa, where she received her degree in Education.

Family life...

After receiving her degree, Karen married her college sweetheart, Bob Mueller in June of 1962.  Soon thereafter, they moved to Manitowoc, WI where they had their first child, Jeff (born in May of 1965).  The small family then moved to Minneapolis, MN where they had their second son, Scott (born in February of 1968) and only daughter, Kristi (born in November of 1972). 

Not long after Kristi's birth, the family moved to Moorhead, MN, where Karen and Bob developed many lifelong friendships.  The Mueller backyard was a favorite gathering place for the very large group of neighborhood children, which suited Karen just fine.  As a teacher, she loved children in all their messy, loud, crazy glory.

Weekends, summers and some Christmas's were spent enjoying lake life at the Mueller cabin on Big Sugarbush Lake - a huge benefit of being a teacher was that Karen had summers to devote to family life. Yearly road trips to Iowa were also a must to keep in touch with extended family. 

Sadly, the family lost Bob in June of 1982 after a year long battle with cancer.  This was a difficult situation for a young mother, but Karen rose to the challenge.  She supported the family by selling insurance to large farmers in the area.  While it was not her life's calling, she excelled in the role and earned many accolades as a rookie agent.

Karen and Norm Petitt starting dating in 1983, and after a whirlwind romance were married in early 1984.  Karen happily inherited four additional children, Gary, Teri, Bob and Scot, as well as another child of her heart, Zahra, a refugee from Ethiopia.  After some initial confusion about what to do with two children named Scot(t), the family settled into a new routine which included ski trips to the Petitt cabin in Breckenridge, Colorado and huge, loud, boisterous holiday gatherings.

In late 1987, Karen and Norm relocated to Denver, Colorado with their two youngest children, Scot and Kristi.  They purchased a market research firm and spent the next 15+ years working together before Karen retired in the early 2000's and Norm followed suit in 2008.

Throughout the years, Karen and Norm have welcomed 19 grandchildren into the world - their greatest joy.  Karen spent countless hours attending sporting events, school events, art shows, and performances.  Any and all things that involved the grandkids got top billing for both Karen and Norm.

Family Life Continued...

As an outgoing only child, living in a rural location, Karen sometimes described her childhood as lonely.  Her adult life was anything but...

After losing her mom in her early 20’s, Karen’s dad went on to marry Zona and Karen’s small family began to grow.  Karen gained a much loved step mom, and for the first time in her life, she had siblings!  Her beloved step-sister Susan, and step brothers Dick and Al.

Karen’s marriage to Bob brought brother-in-law Dave into the family along with his wife Mary, and their three children, Lori, Kent, and Kirk.

Her marriage to Norm added brother-in-law, Jerry, and his wife Kathy and their three children, Eric, Mark, and Jess. 

Each of Karen’s children married and brought more children and grandchildren into the mix.  Much to her delight!

Gary married Gail, and her daughter, Jill, became the first of many grandchildren.  Jill’s children are Tanner and Kori (the first of Karen’s great grand children), and Tanner’s son, Jett is the first great, great grandchild.

Teri married John and they have two daughters, Miranda and Ellie.

Bob married Kerry and they have twin daughters, Megan and Erin.

Jeff married Ellen and had three sons, Bob, Ben (deceased), and Eric.

Scott married Molly and has two children, Emma and Max.

Scot and his first wife, Colleen have two children together, Aidan and Alannah.  Scot’s marriage to Kristin brought two more grandchildren, Ava and Livy into the fold.

Kristi married Chris and has two daughters, Abby and Tia. 

This doesn’t even begin to touch on all of Karen’s extended family, all of whom had a special place in Karen’s heart.  Her heart and home were always open to “more” - more friends, more family, and those friends who became family. 

If Karen had a gift, it was the ability to make people feel special, cared for, and loved.  In fact, a favorite saying of hers, particularly when interacting with her grandchildren, was “You are important to me.”  She said it often, and meant it every time.