Karen L. Burke of Charlotte, NC, longtime Poughkeepsie area resident and wife of John P. “Jack” Burke passed away on Friday, April 6, 2018, at Novant Health Hospice, Matthews, NC, after a 26-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
Karen was born on October 20, 1942, in Chicago, IL, to the late Arthur and Bernice Ramsey Spafford. As a child, she attended schools in both Corcoran, CA, and Bloomington, IL. She graduated from University High School in Bloomington, and attended the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL. She received her nursing degree from Dutchess Community College School of Nursing and was devoted to her profession until retiring from Vassar Hospital in 1994.
Karen never let her disease define her, nor did she allow it to hold her back—she made the best of every day, living each one to the fullest. She had a fabulous imagination and loved entertaining her children and grandchildren with stories she invented while people-watching. Games were another favorite pastime—she would never pass up a chance to play Skip-Bo, Mexican Train, or Chinese Checkers. She and her husband, Jack, were avid travelers: together they traversed the US and Canada on numerous road trips and managed to visit all fifty states; they also enjoyed cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean and Central America. Spending time with family and friends was the highlight of any vacation, and she delighted in visits with loved ones from California to Maine.
Left to mourn a life well-lived—in addition to her husband, Jack—are Karen’s brother, Dan Spafford (Gail) of Rockville, MD; daughters, Kim (Kofi) McCleary of Arlington, VA, Kristyn (Tim) Kamps of Grand Rapids, MI, and Kara Butterfield of Sandy, UT; Karen’s former husband and father of her children, Henry “Hank” Hegener and wife, Corinne of Round Hill, VA; stepdaughters, Kathleen (Walter) White of Angier, NC, Coleen Burke (Mike Gates) of Madison, WI, and Noreen Burke of Virginia Beach, VA; grandchildren, Lauren (Peter) Luzon, Kyle Kenney, Jessica Kamps, Jaclyn Kamps, Kayli DeSena, Robert DeSena, Walter White, Meaghan (Brice) Terry, Zachary White and Briana Schneider; great-granddaughter, Harper Long; nieces, Holly and Carrie, along with their husbands and children; numerous cousins and their families; and many, many friends who date back as early as grade school days and remained close throughout her life.
In addition to her parents, Karen was predeceased by a son, Henry “Chip” Hegener Jr., grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
The family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and caregivers of Novant Hospice, Community Hospice, and Novant Hospital, who took such good care of her and improved her quality of life throughout the course of her courageous battle with Parkinson’s. Karen was giving to the end—as per her wishes, her brain was donated to University of Miami for the study of Parkinson’s Disease.
A memorial service celebrating her life will be held in Poughkeepsie, NY, on August 11, 2018. Details will be published at a later date. Interment in St. Peters Mausoleum will be held at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her name can be made to the Micheal J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, 469 7th Ave, 498, New York, NY 10018.
William G Miller & Sons of Poughkeepsie, and the Neptune Society of Charlotte will oversee the arrangements.
If you wish to send an on;ine condolence please visit our website at www.wmgmillerfuneralhome.com