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Karen E. Kempken
September 30, 1941 - June 17, 2012
Karen Elaine Kempken, 70, of Rockford IL, went home to be with her Lord on Sunday June 17, at her daughter's home in McFarland, WI. Karen suffered (but never complained about) cancer of the liver. Karen was born on September 30, 1941 to Willis and Olga (Johnson) August in Elkhorn, WI. She graduated from Delavan-Darien High School in 1959 in Delavan, WI. While she did enjoy high school, her favorite school memories were of the one room school house she attended for Kindergarten through 8th grade. After High School she attended Swedish-American Hospital School of Nursing in Rockford, IL. There she received her R.N. in 1962. She enjoyed nurses training very much and was extremely proud when she was honored this spring during the 50th reunion of her graduating class. She has maintained life long friendships from her nursing school days. Karen went back to school after working many years and completed her Bachelor's of Nursing from Rockford College (BSN) in 1987. She then went on to earn her Master's Degree of Health Services Administration from College of St. Francis, Joliet, IL in 1993.
On September 21, 1963 Karen married her high school sweetheart, Paul Kempken in Delavan, WI. Karen and Paul settled in Rockford, IL where Karen lived for the next 53 years. Paul preceded her in death January 17, 1990. Together Karen and Paul had three children, David, Susan and Sheryl.
Karen enjoyed working and spent many years as a nurse at Visiting Nurses Association. She loved the interaction with her patients and they loved her. After leaving the Visiting Nurses she continued to work in home health care at Rockford Memorial Hospital as a discharge planning manager. Rockford Memorial Hospital recognized her talent and asked her to help start their own home health care agency where she was the administrator. After leaving Rockford Memorial she went to Beloit Memorial Hospital to be the director of their home health care agency. She truly loved working and utilizing her education, her experience in the hospital and in the community. Home health care provided her an opportunity to combine her talents. Before retiring she served on the Board of Wisconsin Homecare Organization and received several service awards.
Karen had a deep faith in God and desire to serve her church, Creekwood Baptist Church, Rockford, Il. She served as organist and/or choir director for 43 years. Karen wore many hats at Creekwood acting as Moderator of the church board for more than one term, volunteering with the church finance department, organizing the senior ministries and last, but not least, she was famous for her church dinners and the time she spent in the kitchen. Karen loved to cook, especially for a crowd. While she left us with the two church cookbooks she organized, and countless recipes stuffed in boxes, her cooking cannot be duplicated, and will be missed by anyone who had the pleasure to dine with her.
While Karen loved her church and her work, her family was the most important thing in Karen's life. She cherished her time with her daughter and son in law, but her grandchildren were the loves of her life. She adored each of them and they loved their "Grammy." Karen's friends all knew to be prepared to see the latest photos of her grandchildren every time they saw her. . Karen's family would like to thank their families, friends, church families and Agrace Hospice Care for helping them through this difficult time and helping Karen make the most of her last days with us.
Karen is survived by her daughter, Susan (Mark Heckel) of McFarland; grandchildren, Sophia, Samantha and David Heckel; sister, Joanne (Ben Dunham); niece, Dr. Kathy (Keith English); brothers-in-law, Michael (Barbara Kempken) and Jon (Michelle Kempken); brother, Dean August, several cousins, nieces, nephews and great nephews. Karen was preceded in death by her husband, B. Paul Kempken; son, David; daughter, Sheryl; grandson, Jackson; parents, Willis and Olga August and father and mother-in-law, Bernard and Ruth Kempken.Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 23, 2012 at Creekwood Baptist Church, 7281 Old Creek Rd, Rockford, IL, with the Rev. Darren Loeppky officiating. Burial will be in Millard Cemetery in Elkhorn, WI. at 3:00. Visitation from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, June 22, at Creekwood Baptist Church, and on Saturday one hour prior to services at the church. In lieu of flowers, Karen asked that memorials be made to Creekwood Baptist Church or Agrace Hospice Care in Madison, WI. Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory, 1860 S. Mulford Rd. assisted the family.
To the family of Karen Kempken. I was fortunate enough to have worked with Karen at Beloit Memorial Hospital. As she became a grandmother, we shared pictures of those prescious gifts from God, and spoke often of the joys of "babysetting". She looked forward to retirement so she could spend more time with family. Our time together was short, but I truly enjoyed talking with her and hearing about her family. My heartfelt sympathy to you in the loss of your mother.
My condolences to all of you. Karen was a part of my life for many years & at different hospitals - sometimes a co-worker, sometimes a patient. She was always kind, very bright, creative & funny. She talked about all of you with such love! She will be missed. -- Joanne Walker, OSF SAMC
Karen was a wonderful woman and leaves behind a legacy of countless memories and ways in which she enriched the lives of others.
Ronald R. Huyck
Katelynn M. Gourley
Ellerd "Tiger" Stolgren
Anthony "Tony" Pellegrini
Joy A. Mendoza
Beverly J Evans
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