Karen Ann Eilert was born under an endless summer sky in a small Kansas town in the summer of 1954. One of ten children born to her parents, Helen and Albert, Karen spent her early years on their small family farm on the rolling prairies of America’s heartland. Life lessons came hard and fast on that little farm, and Karen had to grow up too fast and too soon. The oldest daughter among her siblings, she learned early on how to help care for her younger brothers and sisters and to help with the day to day chores essential to the life she was born into. Fearless, driven, and passionate in every aspect of her life, she was determined to become more, to accomplish more, than every statistic would say was possible.
In her professional life, Karen was focused and competitive in every sense. Beginning as a Licensed Practical Nurse, and later spending over 25 years as a Licensed Optician, she never allowed herself to be anything less than the best in her field. She took enormous pride in her profession, and pushed everyone around her to be the absolute best they could be. She had an uncanny ability to sense the untapped potential in her colleagues and was relentless in challenging them to rise to their abilities.
As a single mother to three children, she was loving, nurturing, supportive, fierce, and brave beyond measure…but it was as Grandma to her seven grandchildren where Karen found joy beyond measure. A love without boundaries and with limitless hope and possibility. First with five grandsons, and, finally, through two little girls in whom she could bestow her love of hearth and home, teaching them to bake cookies and knead bread dough beside her in the kitchen.
As a wife, Karen found her “happily ever after” in her husband, Mike Valasco. He was her soul mate, best friend, and confidant. Together, they traveled the world, ate the food, drank the wine, and made memories most would envy given two lifetimes. Through her illness, he was her helpmate, caretaker, and tireless advocate. He was her anchor and safe harbor in the storm.
Karen lived life to its fullest and loved openly. She took great joy in her family, whether it was taking cruises with her husband, baking cookies with her girls (all of them), or taking her boys out to lunch. She love her country and lived to spend time with family.
Karen found eternal peace on December 30th, but her memory and legacy lives on through her husband, Mike, three children – Brandon, Nathan, and Heidi, seven grandchildren – Hunter, Geoffrey, Colby, Eric, Jaxon, Zoey and Evelyn, four brothers, four sisters, and many nieces, nephews, and close friends.
Karen was the strongest woman we have ever known. Her love was limitless. She is gone too soon, but will live forever in our memories as our amazing Wife, Mom, Grandma, Sister, Friend, and Colleague.
A Celebration of Life will be held on January 25th at Tre Bella in Downtown Mesa (119 W Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85201). Doors open at 9:30am and we’ll begin at 10am. In lieu of black, please wear Karen’s favorite color, blue.