Karen Shank

Karen Shank

Karen Adele Shank was born in Emporia, Kansas, Dec. 4, 1940 to Emmett Hoffman Shank and Florence Elinor (Issitt) Shank. She passed away at home May 6 with her daughters by her side.

She was born a farm girl raised in the Buckeye community and Navarre, Kansas, graduating with the class of 1959 at Dickinson County Community High School in Chapman, Kansas. She was baptized and was active as a young girl in the Navarre Church of the Brethren and became a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Abilene as an adult. Karen’s love for her family was first and foremost, especially for her two grandchildren, Trista Lee and Garrett. “Mema” never failed to attend Trista’s vocal or theater performances or Garrett’s sporting events, bringing her famous cinnamon rolls and Texas sheet brownies to all his baseball games. She also brought in her mother to care for her in aging years. Karen taught piano lessons for many years for children, except her kids who hated practicing that dreadful instrument. Karen had a lifelong passion for competitive sports. Her favorite season was football and her favorite team was the Kansas City Chiefs celebrating all three super bowl wins with her daughters. She loved watching KU basketball and college sports in general. Karen loved to play golf in her healthier times and still showed fascination with the sport, watching the telecast of PGA tournaments and Tiger Woods. Karen loved her beautiful lush green law, flowers, and gardening. She also loved her poodles. Her puppies brought her so much joy and companionship her entire life. She loved celebrating holidays with her family, playing games and eating green chili. Karen had a funny sense of humor, creating laughter during family gatherings, always poking fun at herself. Karen worked in insurance for over 25 years and she said she hated every minute of it; except for her customers who would often stop by her office at Gemmill, Gugler & Garten Insurance to swap funny stories or just to chat. Karen’s lifelong battle with Polycystic Renal disease brought her to dialysis in May of 2022 where she met a group of wonderful nursing staff who became her friends and provided additional emotional support for her. She truly loved visiting on the phone with lifelong best friend Charlene Crooks and her favorite sister-in-law Dee Parrish. As a mom or mother-in-law she never failed to “share” her advice or her opinions. It is debatable whether or not her children listened or tuned it out. Either way she raised her children to be strong and independent. “Mema”, as she was known to her grandchildren, became an endearing name she was called by. “Mema” provided a loving environment in the early years for Eyler and Anna Holt, whom she thought of as her great-grandchildren. “Mema” will be missed by her family, friends and anyone who had the privilege to know this truly funny lady.


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