Karen Mary Cartwright
April 27, 1940 – August 3, 2020
This world became a brighter place on April 27, 1940, when Karen Mary Cartwright was born in Sioux City, Iowa. With her mother, two brothers, and stepfather she later moved to California, where she became a beloved big sister when the family grew by three more girls. As a teenager she loved dancing to Elvis Presley records and being the life of every birthday party, holiday and family occasion. She married young, left her husband, but kept the best part of their union, her daughter Ruth Coleen. In 1962 she married her real-life Elvis, Donald James Cartwright, and they created a life of love, laughter and devotion until his death in July, 2003. Their home in Pinole was the hub for family celebrations and gatherings and a place of warmth and refuge to all.
Karen returned to school while working and raising her family, and fulfilled her life-long dream of becoming a registered nurse. She touched many lives with her care and compassion as a staff nurse at Kaiser-Permanente Hospital in Richmond, California. After her retirement she continued to share her gift for kindness and empathy as a volunteer with The Society of St. Vincent De Paul, lector at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and as Gramma, mentor and friend to her granddaughter Lecia.
Karen was diagnosed with metastatic lung and brain cancer at age 70. Her courageous spirit, positive attitude and deep faith defied a usually grim prognosis. She continued to be the heart of her family for another 10 years, and welcomed two great-grandsons, DJ and Abrahm into the world.
Karen was the one we called on whenever we needed wise, nonjudgmental advice, an open-hearted listener or when we simply wanted to be with someone who accepted and loved us just as we were. She was a light in the life of everyone who knew her and each of us will carry her legacy in our hearts.
Donations in her memory can be made to the Society of St. Vincent De Paul.
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