Karen J. Russell, formerly of Lacey, Washington, died on April 17, 2019 at the age of 74.
Our mom was a practical person. She was an easy listener and thoughtful friend. She felt deeply, and kept much on the inside.
She was a devoted grandma who met her grandchildren at their school bus as long as she could. She taught them the value of dedicated, consistent work and the principle of cutting apple slices in a particular way. She loved working the Highlights Hidden Pictures puzzles with them and listening to them talk about the things that excited them. She loved spoiling them at Christmas time and birthdays.
Born in Seattle, our mom lived her entire life in Washington State before moving to Lewisburg. She loved the water and was an avid water skier. She was known for walking her ski and a 6-pack of beer down to the bay outside her home in Shelton, Washington, to flag down a boat. In 2005, she relocated with grace and ease to be near her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. In setting up her new life in the east, she made many good friends and was deeply involved in the Lewisburg community, serving as a volunteer for the Union County Public Library, delivery person for Meals on Wheels, and treasurer for the Union County Democrats.
Beyond the water and her grandchildren, our mom loved animals. She was a rescuer all her life of wayward cats and a lover of dogs. She was a masterful trainer who taught all her dogs to poop and pee on command. She fed squirrels and birds, and took great pleasure in seeing animals in her world.
Our mom applied her serious organizational and accounting skills as an employee for the state of Washington. During her job interview, our mom initially exaggerated her accounting skills; once she got the job, she covertly used her high school accounting textbook to help her set up and manage the books for a state organization. She went on to work for this organization for 30 years until her retirement in 2002. Her boss took a chance on her when she needed it the most; she returned the favor time and again by taking chances on and seeing the best in others. To her credit, our mom single-handedly provided for herself and us and secured her financial future as an independent person, without the benefit of a college education. She was frugal and financially conscious. She had few vices beyond the usual, but to her last day she maintained a near doomsday-size supply of toilet paper and Kleenex. She never wanted to run out.
During our high school years, our mom was a mom to many. Our friends and significant others often sought out her counsel and attentive listening ear. Mostly, they reached out for her unconditional love.
Our mom will be greatly missed and always remembered by many, but none more than her son Peter Henry and his partner Andie Wagner of Olympia, Washington and her daughter and son-in-law, Sue Ellen and Abe Feuerstein of Lewisburg. Her grandchildren, Jacob, Ruby, and Ben, all of Lewisburg, will remember their grandma’s edicts to put things back where they belong, to finish their homework before playing, and to do things that make them happy. Her sister, Judi Raaum, of Springfield, Virginia will cherish their time together growing up and raising families together.
Our family will be eternally grateful for the kindness of all the staff at Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village and Home Instead, as well as Evangelical Hospice Care. Many friends helped our Mom remain independent by grocery shopping for her and offering rides when she no longer felt confident driving. Particular gratitude goes to Michelle Kashuba for making a house call to do a shampoo/set when Mom could no longer get to the salon. Having her hair done was a small luxury she allowed herself and we are so glad she got to experience this simple pleasure.
We will miss you, Mom. No one believed in us as much as you and fought so hard to preserve our family. We are forever grateful for your love and generosity.