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Karen Johnson

Karen Sue Johnson

Monday, June 24th, 1940 - Thursday, September 17th, 2020
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Karen Sue (Dolan) Johnson died September 17, 2020, in her snowbird home, La Quinta CA, attended by her loving family.

She was born June 24, 1940 in Provo, UT to Iowa natives Victor and Irene (Dougherty) Dolan. The family, including older brother Patrick, settled in Salina, KS where Karen attended Sacred Heart Grade School, graduating from Sacred Heart High School in 1958.

Her parents and Patrick preceded her in death. Survivors include daughter Holly Johnson, La Quinta CA, granddaughters Megan (and Jake) Van Geffen, Raleigh, SC and Riley Huebner, San Luis Obispo, CA, and her son Greg and his wife, Lisa Johnson, and Charlie, Carl, Phillip and Garrett of Manchester, MI. Karen is also survived by her sisters, Janelle Downs, Paola KS and Vicki Jacobson, Manhattan KS and sister-in-law Bobbie Lamone Dolan, Palm Springs CA.

After high school, she was a secretary at International Milling in Salina, then moved to Denver where she worked for KBTV. She married Don W Johnson in 1963 in Salina. Eventually they settled in rural Solano County, California, creating successful vineyards on former orchard acreage.

Karen lovingly shared her skills by making delicious jellies and pies, beautiful cross-stitch, crochet and needlepoint creations, hand-sewn teddy bears, and Christmas stockings.

After a divorce, she relocated to Ketchum, then Hailey. As a member of Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, Ketchum, she enjoyed making scones and nut bread for the Hospitality after Mass. She held a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and silently prayed the rosary as she voluntarily sat with hospice patients.

She considered Idaho her home and appreciated the natural beauty and community of the Wood River Valley, an appreciation which perpetuates in her children and grandchildren. Christmas Eve ice shows, sleigh rides, drives looking for elk herds, shopping at the Gold Mine and attending the Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival are beloved memories that will live on. She happily served as prom dress shopper and hairdresser for each loving granddaughter. “Gram” was an unrivaled friend who will be greatly missed.

Karen enjoyed traveling, and treasured trips back to Kansas and Iowa, visiting friends, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Her determined fight against cancer served her well, as her loved ones gained 15 precious years with her. May Karen's Irish sense of humor linger forever in the lives of her family, and help carry us past the sad times to cherished memories.

A rosary vigil service will be Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 3:00 pm. at Our Lady of the Snows, Ketchum. Visitation will follow. The funeral Mass is Thursday, Nov 12 at 1:00 pm at the church, with Rev. Justin Brady as Celebrant. Interment will follow in the Ketchum Cemetery, under the care of Wood River Chapel.

Memorials may be directed to the hospice facility of donor's choice, or to S.T.P.A.T.S., a preservation society, 420 E Patrick St, Dougherty IA 50433. Please visit woodriverchapel.com to share a condolence, story or photo with Karen’s family.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Thursday, November 12th, 2020 | 1:00pm
    Thursday, November 12th, 2020 1:00pm
    Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church
    206 Sun Valley Rd.
    sun valley, ID 83353
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Rev. Justin Brady
  • Interment

    Ketchum Cemetery
    1026 Main Street North
    KETCHUM, ID 83340
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Cathy Benton

Posted at 11:19am
I remember being in first grade at Sacred Heart and Karen was in high school. She found me on the playground at lunch, she was wearing a cheerleading uniform and asked me how I liked school. I felt pretty important and the other first graders were impressed how pretty she was and she was my cousin.

Carol Duggan

Posted at 02:40pm
We shared fun times in our single years dragging main, drinking beer, hanging out.

Rebecca (Downs) Little

Posted at 10:23am
Aunt Karen was a very special woman and mentor in my life. I have such wonderful memories visiting her and cousins Holly and Greg on their fun farm in Northern California, and later visits to Sun Valley, ID. She always had planned or spontaneous activities ready for us from ice skating shows, flattening nickels on the train tracks, floating down the creek on tire tubes to milking goats, thrifting at the Gold Mine, and hunting for golf balls in the creek.

In the summer of 1994, I spent my college break living with Aunt Karen in Ketchum. I helped her serve snacks to patients at the hospital, went with her on walks in the hills (sometimes with a dog that was up for adoption), enjoyed picnics and jazz at Sun Valley, and a trip to Red Fish lake. She was always aware of fun things to do!

Years later, when I moved to Salt Lake City and much closer to her Idaho home, we were able to get together more often. On one visit I gave her a scare when my blood sugar crashed and she had to call the ambulance to help me. A few years later, I went to spend a weekend with her when she was diagnosed with cancer. My parents (her sister Janelle) and I helped her move into her Hailey home. When I got married and had my babies, we all went to visit a couple times. In turn, Aunt Karen would stay with us in Salt Lake City when her granddaughter, Riley, would come to visit. My little girls especially loved these times when they would stay the night!

My condolences to Holly and Greg and your families. Your mother was a very special woman who filled herself and those close to her with abundant opportunities to live life to the fullest. I cherish my times with her and keep her in my prayers.

With love,
Rebecca (Downs) Little

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