Karen Sue McKinney

Funeral services for Karen Sue McKinney, 69, of Lawrence will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, July 9, 2016 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence. Burial will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Karen, horse lover and Kansas girl, died July 3rd on the farm she loved. Tiring of big city life in New York and Toronto after graduating from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA, this Miss Kansas runner-up returned to her hometown where she surrounded herself with family, animals, flowers, and herbs. Karen taught others to love books, theatre, history and the arts by sharing her time and passion for these things, and touched many lives through her compassion and commitment to live as Jesus did. Sharing her special love of horses and youth continued to the end as she just recently helped conclude the Horse Sense Riding Camp that she co-founded and helped run for many summers at White Oak Ranch. Son Jeremiah and wife Michaelah (Swier) Johnson, sister Kathy (McKinney) and husband Mark Nace, brothers Rod McKinney and Scott and wife Susie (Bishop) McKinney, Karen’s four nieces, Jordan McKinney, Jessica (Weaver) Nicholson, Kaitlin McKinney and Ginny Nace and four nephews, Eric Nicholson, Keegan McKinney, Logan McKinney and Liam McKinney and all her family sorely miss her welcoming smile and caring nature.

Karen was born November 1, 1946 in Springfield, MO the daughter of Harold “Mac” and Martha (Blackwood) McKinney. The family moved to Topeka where they lived for several years before settling in Lawrence. Karen graduated from Lawrence High School in 1964 before attending and graduating with a teaching degree from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA. She then taught in Queens, NY and later transitioned into real estate when she moved to Canada. After moving back to Lawrence, Karen continued with property management until her death. She was a member and Deacon of Christ Covenant Church and for many years was the Librarian and helped with theatre productions at Veritas Christian School.

The family will also greet friends from 6 – 8 p.m. Friday, July 8th at the mortuary.

Memorials may be made in her name to Lawrence Family Promise and may be sent in care of the Warren-McElwain Mortuary.

23 Condolences

  1. Barbara & Ken Bishop on July 5, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    That sweet smile will be always remembered and always missed. Our love to each of you grieving today.

  2. Jerry & Saundy Milroy on July 5, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Karen was such a dear friend during our years in Lawrence, so we have several fun memories of her. Because of her strong faith and love for the Lord, her hard days of suffering and pain are over, and now she rests in the presence of the Savior with life everlasting.

  3. Nancy Hunt on July 5, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Karen is a class act. I always enjoyed our conversations. She leaves a lovely legacy.

  4. Kelly Cavner on July 5, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Such a lovely woman. And that smile! I will always remember the day we were laughing as she was showing me an apartment and suddenly, I did a double-take and said, “You know Karen, I’m sorry I never really noticed before, but you have the most amazing smile??” She will be dearly missed. My sincerest sympathies to her family and friends.

  5. Amy Zook on July 6, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Love and prayers to all Karen’s family. She will be missed by
    so many people. What a privilege to have known her and
    have her as a friend. She was a sweet, lovely person.

  6. Tim and Cindy Jensen on July 6, 2016 at 9:02 am

    It has been a privilege to know Karen – such a dear, sweet lady. May God fill the hole left with loving memories of her and the knowledge that she is in heaven.

  7. Jennifer Yocum on July 6, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Such a special person. Very pleased to have known her.

  8. Ron and Kathy Stegall on July 6, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Dear Jeremiah & Michaelah, Kathy, Scott & Rod,

    We’ve been without internet since Sunday, thus our delay in writing to you. )

    We are so shocked and sad at this news that Karen went to be with the Lord last night. We cannot really take it in. We have no words to say. We share in your grief.

    Call on us for whatever is needed.

    We love you. We love Karen and eagerly look forward to seeing her again.

    Ron & Kathy

  9. LuAnn Nystrom on July 6, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Jeremiah and Michaelah,
    Though I did not know your mother long, I was touched and blessed by her. She was a beautiful and elegant country girl who loved the arts and the Lord. I smile remembering that Classical music played every time I road in her SUV. It was a joy to see you three together at the performance of the Little Mermaid. The gift of that evening is just one example of what a thoughtful and good son you are, Jeremiah. I am so, so sorry for your loss and all of ours. I am so happy for Karen that she is now with the Lord.
    LuAnn Nystrom

  10. Carmen Penny on July 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Dear Jeremiah, Michaelah, Kathy, Scott and Rod,

    I have been so blessed by my friendship with Karen over the years. She has been an encourager to so many of us. My heart is greiving. I remember the wonderful times we spent working in the Veritas library together. Her love for children and good books was so contagious. I also remember how she LOVED to do the costumes and makeup for the school plays. I am saddened that she is now separated from all of us but I am forever grateful for how she has touched my life. In Christ, Carmen Penny

  11. Tamara Jarrow on July 6, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    To Jeremiah and all of the family: my deepest sympathies for the loss of your extraordinary mom, mother-in-law, sister, and aunt. I love you all!

    Karen embodied a ethereal spirit balanced with the ability to thrive in this world. She was a dear sister in Christ, an amazing friend, and lover of life. When I think of her, my first thought is how she loved to draw out beauty and the best in all that she touched–family, friends, nature, animals, actors and actresses, artists, literature, cooking, decorating, horse lovers…

    Her legacy is a great one of God’s love practiced daily by expressing joy and compassion for God’s creatures and His creation!

    Words can’t express how much I will miss the love, friendship, and sage advice she has provided for decades.

    I pray you will find comfort in God, and rejoice in the memories of how she enriched and blessed your lives! Love and Hugs❤️

  12. Karen Baker Spears on July 7, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Karen has been a dear friend since childhood, beautiful inside and out. Our love and prayers go out to her wonderful family, son Jeremiah, siblings, nieces and nephews. We have all been blessed by her presence in our lives. Karen and Steve Spears

  13. Bill and Mary Graham and family on July 8, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    34 years ago I and my family moved to Lawrence to build a home just south of Karen’s place in the country and became friends immediately.
    For 34 years we shared faith, family, proximity and loves. So many memories keep flooding back it would take hours to recount them.
    I’ve been looking for consolation ever since the shocking news of her passing came to me. I am gradually coming to see that the very attributes of her that I miss are at the same time consolations. She influenced and enriched our lives in so many ways. Those attributes have already affected three generations and will no doubt continue to do so.
    Knowing she is rejoicing with her maker and keeping in mind the myriad benefits she brought to so many, pushes away much of the sorrow I feel at not having her with us.
    Mary and I and our entire family have been immeasurably blessed by knowing Karen. We grieve with her family and look to God’s comfort and peace that passes all understanding.

  14. Jean and Glenn McFarland on July 8, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Dear Family of Karen, Oh, how difficult to hear the news of Karen’s sudden passing. We feel for you in this great loss. Karen was ready to meet her Maker and is at peace and rejoicing now. We shared our love of the Lord, love of our godly parents, love of travel, of ornate historical architecture, music, friends we both knew across the U.S. etc. She will be missed my many. We’re asking our Lord to give you His great comfort.

  15. Lisa Harris on July 8, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    Karen attended the Lawrence contra dances for several years and she was such a beautiful presence on the dance floor. So graceful and friendly and serene. Her smile lit up the dance floor!

  16. Judy Dalton Liberty on July 9, 2016 at 12:16 am

    I worked with Karen in the late 1970’s. Although our paths did not cross again after that I remember her fondly. She was beautiful and kind, elegant and reserved. I enjoyed my time knowing her.

    My sincerest condolences to her family and friends.

  17. Ron & Becky Zeller on July 9, 2016 at 11:52 am

    To all of Karens family… We are so very sorry for your loss. Karen was such a lovely lady and good friend of our family. To us she was a true giver, in more ways than one. Our daughter, Bethany, a Veritas student, always wanted a horse. We couldn’t afford one at the time. Karen liked our idea of renting a horse (Dancer) from her at White Oak Ranch. We agreed to 6 months. She was there for us, every step of the way, but especially for our daughter. From beginning to end, she made it fun and easy. The memories made are beautiful and unforgettable. She’s also remembered fondly in the Library at Veritas. She always had a friendly smile and listening ear. She holds very tender spots in our memory books of life. Jeremiah, you & your family will be in our prayers. May God’s Peace & Love be with you & yours. The Zellers

  18. Phyllis (Cawley) Forchee on July 9, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    My condolences to the McKinney family. I knew Karen as a neighbor and as a classmate at Mackey School and Lawrence High School. She accomplished so much in her life. May you find some peace in remembering her life and legacy of service to others.

    Phyllis Forchee, St. Louis, MO

  19. Gabrielle Burman on July 9, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    To Jeremiah and family,

    When I think of Karen, I think of a beautiful, no-nonsense, passionate woman. A great role model for young women as a lover of Christ, animals, theatre, and the pursuit of knowledge. I’ll never forget that contagious smile and as I type I can’t help but replay the memories of afternoons in the library, circled around her, listening to her bring a story to life unlike anyone else could. Blessed to have had her in my life, no matter how long ago it’s been. I pray that you can find peace in her passing and joy from her memory.

  20. Pat Harrell Bush on July 10, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Time seems gone too soon for some–Karen is one of those people.
    I have regrets for not staying in touch, better. She was indeed a beautiful

  21. Pat Harrell Bush on July 10, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    I’m grateful for the short time I knew her on this earth. She was a wonderful friend growing up in high school. She showed my husband and the Spears (Karen & Steve) a wonderful time & tour of Lawrence for our 50th LHS reunion.
    Wishing God’s loving kindness on her family. We will look forward to seeing her on the other side!

  22. Leon's Carpet Pro's (Adrian & Tammie) on July 10, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    We are saddened to hear about Karen’s passing. We have enjoyed working with her throughout the years. May your memories guide you through this trying time.

  23. Kent Aldrich on July 13, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Dear Kathy,

    Yesterday brought me the sad news of Karen’s death. It fills me with sadness when I remember through our conversations and contacts when I still lived in Kansas, what Karen stood for. Our friendship began of course, with the opportunity she gave me as a young student, looking for a job; with I dubbed the “last chance” apartments. I remember the time she came to visit me in the Wald Clinic years later, during my rehabilitation phase, and how her kind face and words of encouragement gave me hope. I remember the times I visited Karen’s farm, and the peaceful and beautiful ambiance she created there. Persons like her are an exception and I am grateful to have known her. I am thinking of you all today, and I wish for a peaceful and harmonious closure for everyone.

    As always,


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