IN LOVING MEMORY OF
Karen Jeanette Ward
May 27, 1951 — March 5, 2020
CELEBRATION OF LIFE
Saturday, March 14, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
1880 Gettysburg, Clovis, California
MAY BE VIEWED ONLINE AT: https://webcast.churchofjesuschrist.org/view/97559
Clovis Cemetery District
305 N. Villa, Clovis, California
Karen Jeanette Ward, age 68 of Fresno, California passed away on Thursday, March 5, 2020.
Karen was born to Eugene and Jeanette Burton in Pomona, California on May 27, 1951. She grew up with her brother, Robert Burton, and was close to her extended family who also lived in Southern California. Growing up, she spent most summers with her grandparents at a ranch in Alturas, CA where her grandparents worked as the foreman and cook. She had many happy memories riding horses and spending time there with her grandparents and cousins. Her grandfather “Pa” nicknamed her “Tommy” because she loved to engage in all the same activities as her brother and boy cousins. As a young teenager, she was desperate to have her ears pierced, which her mother was not keen to. To appease her desire, her father, a jeweler, snuck her into the garage and pierced her ears for her. In her mother's words, she “was tickled pink” and said the slight amount of pain was completely worth it. She graduated from Pomona High School in 1969.
After high school, she went on to attend Mt San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. While taking classes at the Institute of Religion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, she met Douglas Ward and fell in love with his fun loving and vivacious personality as well as his dedication to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were married and sealed for time and all eternity on October 23, 1971 in the Los Angeles Temple. In their almost 50 year marriage they worked side by side as partners, noblely raising their 5 children - Kari, Matt, Jeremy, Kristen, and Kelly. In their early married years together, Doug and Karen owned a business that they managed together. They furthered their education at Fresno City College, California State University Fresno, and National University for their bachelors and masters degrees. They did this while running their business and still raising 5 young children. They worked extremely hard in their professions allowing them to have a wonderful retirement, traveling the world together and with their friends. Their love and devotion to each other was unmatched. Doug still has Karen listed in his cell phone as “Bride”. Karen spoke often and openly of her loving admiration of her husband and of her great luck that she was married to such an amazing husband, father, and man. Doug would frequently tell anyone who would listen that Karen was the most beautiful woman he had ever known and he was proud to have “stolen her away.” He doted on her accordingly and he always looked at his beloved bride with tenderness. Doug always ensured that his children treated their mother with respect and in a manner befitting the love of his life.
Karen was a dedicated and loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She gave her family and friends her whole heart and showed her love daily through both words and actions. She was an amazing mother to her five children and an incredibly dedicated grandmother to her 28 grandchildren. Karen understood that the most important things that she could give to her family were her love and her time and she did so actively. She attended a staggering amount of school, church, and recreational events that her children and grandchildren participated in. She hosted Sunday night waffle night or game night most weeks in Fresno and traveled often to see her children and grandchildren in Southern California and Pittsburgh, PA. She knew each child, grandchild, and great grandchild and she prayed for each one by name. They were all incredibly close to Grandma Karen, loved her dearly and her loss is being profoundly felt by her family.
After graduating from California State University, Fresno in 1989, Karen was hired for her first teaching job at Tarpey Elementary in the Clovis Unified School District. This began a 30 year career in education where she touched the lives of hundreds of students, teaching in the classrooms at Tarpey Elementary, Alta Sierra Intermediate, and Clovis East High School. She later became involved in various educational consulting organizations all over the world where she worked with other educators to improve the learning process for children. At the time of her passing, she was a Student Teaching Supervisor for prospective teachers attending California State University, Fresno. She was passionate about creating a learning environment for children that would give them the very best chance at a successful life through a better education experience. She was proud to be an educator and her career was a happy and fulfilling part of her life.
Karen would often refer to her favorite Abraham Lincoln quote, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be,” as a kind of motto for life. In 2018, Karen was officially diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, though she had been struggling with her health for a number of years. Rather than wallow in her grief of the foreseen future of this condition, Karen lived her motto and chose happiness. She was determined to keep living life on her terms and not let her diagnosis slow it down. Knowing that exercise would help delay the progression of the Parkinson's, she began to walk several miles a day and participated in many group exercise programs including yoga and her favorite, Rock Steady, a boxing program specifically geared towards individuals with Parkinson’s. Her grandchildren would giggle and cheer her on when they saw her jogging laps in their shared backyard, sometimes even with boxing gloves on. After her diagnosis, she and Doug continued to travel the world. Just in this last year, they had traveled to the Mediterranean, visiting Italy, Greece, and Jerusalem among other countries. They had just returned from traveling to New Zealand and Tahiti, just two weeks before their passing.
Karen is survived by her mother Jeanette Burton, her 5 children, Kari (Robb) Christopherson, Matthew (Aimee) Ward, Jeremy (Jennifer) Ward, Kristen (Doug) Reid and Kelly (Julio) Hernandez, 26 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren.
Karen and Doug passed away in a tragic car accident. Their family is heartbroken over the loss of their daughter, mother, and grandmother, but they find solace in knowing that they are still together.
I AM A CHILD OF GOD
by Naomi Ward Randall
I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.
I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will,
I’ll live with him once more.
I am a child of God.
His promises are sure;
Celestial glory shall be mine
If I can but endure.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.
“May God touch you
with His healing hand
and give you the peace and comfort
you need to get through.”