Karen Campbell was born in the Texas Panhandle town of Paducah on January 4, 1952 to Claude and Bertie Campbell, an intensely loving couple of dryland farmers with seasonal town jobs. An idyllic childhood interrupted by Claude's sudden terminal brain cancer when Karen was 7 scarred her for life exacerbated by the culture shock of moving to Paris, Texas when her mother remarried to send older brother, Patrick, to college where he got an engineering degree and worked a career at DuPont.
Karen never acclimated to east Texas and cherished moving to Austin in 1970 for college and never left as a principle resident. But she traveled!
First however, she graduated from UT Austin with a BA in Fine Arts and struggled several years with studios and galleries downtown. Her art was very good, but her natural introversion neglected self-promotion. So she grudgingly took part-time work as a key punch operator (early entry tech job) at Austin's first IPO, Tracor, Inc., and never looked back. Despite some criticism from her starving art colleagues for "selling out to the man," Karen was delighted to enjoy the culture of zany fun yet serious work of engineers and scientists supporting the military. She was soon offered full-time work evolving into a multi-media advertising position employing her artistic creativity and expression - and getting paid! Very satisfying. Daughter Kat insists mention of Karen's genuine friendliness and care with customers and co-workers here also enhanced her career and life throughout.
Further satisfying to Karen was buying her first home as a single woman in 1987, an uncommon event at the time and only fairly recently legal in Texas.
But it was her late marriage to Pat in 1989 and the birth Kathryn in 1991 that gave her the most joy. Karen's mother, Bertie, was thrilled too, and having out-lived her second husband, moved to Austin to help Pat's folks, Pat & Ludy, aka Papa & Granny, raise young Katie, as she insisted for her first 20 years.
Karen's early work with Applied Sciences on sonar underwater mine detection equipment was a favorite. Her move to airport noise monitoring systems was a career advancement allowing her to both write the training manuals and become principle trainer for the company. A lifelong voracious reader, she could write and teach too!
So in 2008 when the company decided to spin off this last bit of commercial business (10 employees, $2MM annual sales) she enlisted lawyer husband Pat to help spin it off and merge with a former competitor to save local jobs and keep distressed customers happy, she was named manager!
But she was axed in January 2009 as the rest of the country lost 800,000 jobs per month. Shocked and disappointed Karen scrambled to learn and work in the mortgage processing business, graduated from the Project Managers Institute, and networked temp work with a sub contactor of BAE Systems culminating in being rehired as an entry level contract administrator for international accounts. The family is grateful to Howard Word in particular for this opportunity, for she was soon thrilled to be travelling to Japan and S. Korea to assist their contractors in providing defense capabilities to their jet aircraft.
She had traveled and worked contracts in all the major North American commercial airport cities (New York and San Francisco were favorites), and Great Britain, but this was an exciting new vista. Karen envisioned another 5 years at least with this endeavor.
Karen's demise from lengthy unexpected complications of heart surgery was shocking and very saddening to her family and many friends who have stayed close since college. Her zest for life, sunny disposition yet rock of the earth values made her an ideal partner, best friend and lover for Pat and she was best friends with daughter Kat, like the Gilmore Girls, a favorite family show. She always said she and Pat were soul mates and the last thing Pat said to her was; "If you don't make it out of this, I'll catch up with you!" And she nodded knowingly.
Karen actively mentored youth in east Austin and Del Valle schools for decades, served on City Boards and Commissions including Chair of the 23rd Street Arts District and Vice Chair of the Travis Central Appraisal District Board of Directors where she met Pat, who had served as Chair.
In 2006 the family joined First Presbyterian Church and became active in adult education classes of modern Christianity. Karen loved the fellowship and became active as the Welcome Host Coordinator and a top new member recruiter culminating in her election as a church Elder. She was comforted by its outreach during her illness.
In addition to Pat and Kat, Karen leaves nephews, John Campbell, Matthew Campbell and Patrick Campbell; step-brother Sam Wright; step-niece DeDe (Dasha Wright); sister-in-law Brenda Wright; and step-son Patrick Malone Jr, Jocelyn and grandson Patrick Malone III.
Further survivors include Pat's mother Ludy Malone (Granny); Pat's sisters Nancy (&Tom) Anger and Lynda (&Claire) Andrus, all of Austin; and nieces Cory Lynn Anger Frear of New Jersey and Mary Jane King Lorkowski of Houston and their families.
Visitation hours will be from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 6th at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 North Lamar. Memorial services will be at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017 at First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Dr.