Karen was born in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, the oldest of six children in a military family. The family moved frequently throughout Karen’s childhood, living in Port Washington, NY: Honolulu, HI; Medway, Massachusetts; Athens, Georgia; Newport and Middletown, Rhode Island; and Springfield, Virginia, where she graduated from West Springfield High School. She was a cum laude graduate of Longwood College (now Longwood University – longwood.edu) in Farmville, Virginia, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors in English. She earned a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Hollins College (now Hollins University – Hollins.edu) in Roanoke, Virginia, and did postgraduate work in English at Vanderbilt University (vanderbilt.edu) in Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1982, Karen moved to the Atlanta area and began working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (cdc.gov) as an Assistant Editor for Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). During her 23-year career at CDC, she also served as Writer-Editor for the Center for Infectious Diseases; Managing Editor, MMWR, and Chief of the MMWR Branch, Epidemiology Program Office; and Technical Writer-Editor, National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. After retiring from CDC, she worked as a freelance writer/editor and editorial consultant in public health and epidemiology, and then as a technical writer-editor and subject matter expert for CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, until just before her death.
Karen was passionate about raising, showing, and breeding English Springer Spaniels. She was a charter member of the Chattahoochee English Springer Spaniel Club of Greater Atlanta (cesscga.org). She has been described as the backbone of the club with her strict ethics and familiarity with the American Kennel Club (akc.org) rules and regulations. She loved the breed and was determined to protect it. Karen was on the staff of Atlanta’s Dogwood Obedience Group (ADOG) (adog-ga.com), organizing seminars and special events. She was also an active member of English Springer Rescue America (springerrescue.org), and the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association (ESSFTA) (essfta.org).
Karen had always loved creative writing. In the last few years of her life, she completed her first novel, Reasons for Waking, and almost immediately found a publisher for it. In November 2021, she started working with an editor from Bold Story Press, but her health took a sudden turn for the worse, and she was unable to finish the process. She died in March 2022 after a courageous 18-month battle with metastatic breast cancer.
Karen’s accomplishments, both professional and personal, are particularly remarkable given that she was blind at birth from congenital cataracts. Multiple surgeries before she was two years old restored only three percent of her vision. She never complained; she never sought special treatment or pity. Karen was fiercely independent despite not being able to drive. She loved to travel to dog shows around the country. Karen lived life on her terms, inspiring her family and friends along the way.