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You are here: Davis of Iowa > Jim Davis's Biography > Part XII                    Click HERE to go to Part XIII


Part XII



Karen’s Final Years

(2000  - 2003)

Around part of the world in 30 days -


The sale of our Houston townhouse as well as the furnishing which we no longer needed or wanted went smoothly.  Moving our personal “stuff” to Kim and Dave’s in Southlake was easy.  I purchased my Quanex company car and Karen still had her convertible, so a few trips to Southlake with our personal stuff enabled us to make that move relatively easy.  Cindie and Brian wanted several pieces of the furniture from the Houston townhouse, including a hand painted “cupboard” that Karen had fallen in love with and purchased as  well as my office furniture.  We shipped those pieces to them.  Concurrently, we completed preparations for our South American tour.


The South American trip was with a company called TSA based in Seattle, which chartered a British Air Boeing 757 aircraft and crew to pick up our group of some ninety tourists, three lecturers and five guides in Miami, FL.  The plane was configured as first class all the way – two luxury seats on each side of the isle.  We were alerted to the trip by a fellow Ashland Oil executive and his wife who had taken similar trips with TSA and who were booked this trip as well. 


Our first stop was in Guatemala to see the Mayan Ruins.  The Mayans were one of the greatest early civilizations, and their technology astounds todays visitors to their villages. We flew into Belize and focused our visit on the Mayan city, Tikal. Tikal was one of the most important Mayan cities since it was the economic, political and military center of this pre-Columbian civilization.  We also spent time visiting El Mirador which is frequently referred to as the “lost city of the Maya” because this former Mayan capital is now overrun by jungle. At one time it was the largest city (estimates are from 100,000 to 250,000 people) in Mayan civilization.  This entire culture disappeared around 850 to 1000 AD.  Scientists theorize that this this highly populated region’s culture disappeared at least in part by severe droughts – which seems incongruous as the area is now intense jungle.

Tikal with the jungle taking over A temple with the jungle cleared away


We spent two nights and three days there learning about the highly advanced (for that time) Mayan culture and people. The ruins were a testament to the Mayan’s culture.  Their building skills mirrored the accomplishments of the Egyptians in building the pyramids.  They had developed an unbelievably accurate method of keeping track of the years.  Their culture was nearly extinct and the ruins had been almost totally overgrown by the jungle.  To encourage tourism and the study of this culture, Guatemalan authorities have cleared away the encroaching jungle and improved access for tourists to these ruins.


From Guatemala we flew to Manaus, Brazil located on the Amazon River near where the Negro River joins the Amazon River.  These two rivers are mammoth is size independently as both – as well as a number of smaller tributaries to each – are fed with the run off from the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains on the eastern border of Peru, Columbia, Bolivia, Venezuela and the western portion of Brazil.  We spent very little time in Manaus itself just a quick driving tour.  We were taken to a river boat which comfortably accommodated our group.  This boat took us five hours up stream to a reasonably sized resort which was built entirely in the giant trees.  We had suspended walkways from the central buildings – restaurants, bars, administrative offices and the preverbal tourist shops to the sleeping rooms.  We spent two nights and three days at this resort, including the boat ride to and from Manaus.  The amazing statistic that I remember about the Amazon River is that the normal river level in the spring with the snow melt from the eastern side of the Andes Mountains is some 30 feet higher than in the low water time of the fall.  With the width of the river, you get an idea as to how much water flows in the Amazon River – and this was prior to the joining of the Negro and Amazon Rivers!  We took several small boat tours to individual family homes located on the banks of the rivers where the indigenous people were totally self-sufficient by hunting, fishing and gathering food, using local materials to build shelters and doing whatever needed to be done to exist.  These settlers found building sites high enough that the river did not flood them out in the spring.  We  visited with one family and learned of their life struggle to survive in this jungle.


A Great Way To View The Expanse Of The Amazon River


The Amazon River Laden With Fertile Soil Local Touring Was In Small Boats


After returning to Manaus and reboarding our jet we flew to Iguazu Falls which are waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of Argentine and Brazil, just south of these country’s borders with Paraguay.  These waterfalls make up the largest waterfall in the world.   It is much taller than Niagara Falls and is twice as wide. In the rainy season, there can be 450,000 cubic feet of water cascading over the falls per second. It never fails to impress. We visited the falls from the Argentinian side of the Falls  by walking on platforms and walkways which enable you to get very close to some of the falls.  We also did a river cruise during which we donned raingear and were taken  very near some of the falls.  We also took a small aircraft sight-seeing tour of the area.  It was an unbelievable experience.  The expanse of the falls and the rivers feeding them was immense.

Iguazu Falls

The Iguazu Falls has its own microclimate. No other waterfall system in the world can compete with the beauty of the Iguazu Falls, including the waterfall system and the ecosystem that surrounds it. The landscape around it is home to over 2,000 species of plants. Amongst them you’ll find exotic orchids and towering trees.  Plants blanket the ground. It is quite adventurous walking through the rainforest. Seeing the falls with the semi-permanent rainbows is incredible. No other waterfall system in the world can compete with the beauty of the Iguazu Falls, its included waterfall system and the ecosystem that surrounds it. We spent two nights and two days at Iguazu Falls and then  boarded our jet for The Falkland Islands.

The flight was some 2000 miles. Landing in the Falkland Islands was an experience, as the only airport is a British Military Base.  The Falkland Islands are a “self-governing British Overseas Territory”. Under the 2009 Constitution, the islands have full internal self-government; the UK is responsible for foreign affairs, retaining the power "to protect UK interests and to ensure the overall good governance of the territory”.  Our pilots of course needed permission to land at this military base.  The Brits sent two  of their fighter planes up to escort our plane into British territory and to accompany our landing there.  The pilots of the two fighters, had hand painted signs displayed by the pilots alerting us to the fact that there was a “party at the officers club that night’.  

The Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) are a remote South Atlantic archipelago located 300 miles from the nearest point of Argentina.  With rugged terrain and cliff-lined coasts, its hundreds of islands and islets are home to sheep farms and abundant birdlife. The British reasserted rule of the Falkland Islands in 1833.  The Argentina government when it joined the United Nations in 1945, asserted it’s rule over the Falkland Islands.  The UN, Britain and Argentina at various times attempted to resolve the dispute but it was never resolved.  In 1982 Argentina was under the rule of a military junta which was unpopular.  The junta, thinking that diverting attention to the Falkland Islands by forcibly taking the islands would be beneficial. They under-estimated the British, thinking it would not fight to retain its control of the Falkland Islands.  The junta launched a campaign to  conquer the islands.  The military was wrong and the British, in ten days, forced the Argentinian military to retreat.

The capital of the Falkland Islands, Stanley, sits on East Falkland, the largest island. The town's Falkland Islands Museum has themed galleries devoted to maritime exploration, natural history, the 1982 Falklands War and other subjects.  The Falklands are  surrounded by a rich fishing territory and more recently petroleum has been discovered in the ocean surrounding the islands.  The accommodations for visitors in the islands is limited such that while our tour group found bed and breakfast accommodations for all of the tour group and the guides, they could not find accommodations our pilots and/or the plane- which I don’t believe. The pilots took our plane to Chile for the three days we were in the Falkland Islands. 

Stanley, Falkland Islands Magellanic Penguins


There are as many as a million penguins nesting in the Falklands every summer, representing five of the world's seventeen species – the King, Gentoo, Rockhopper, Magellanic and Macaroni. What's more, for the Gentoo, the Falklands are home to the largest population on Earth.  There are some 100,000 pairs, approximately 5 per cent of the world’s population of Magellanic Penguins nesting there.  The Falkland Islands is a fantastic place to observe these magnificent birds.  We did not go whale watching or search for sea lions nor seals, but they are all abundant around the Falkland islands.  We were scheduled to depart from the Falklands at about noon for our next destination Porta Arenas, Chile where our plane had spent the past two days.   However, the pilots learned of some needed maintenance and were  delayed from their scheduled return.  The pilots then requested permission to fly over Argentina in route to the Falklands, but when the Argentina authorities learned that the plane was to be flown to The Falklands, they denied over-flight permission, thereby requiring the pilots to detour around Argentina making the flight an hour longer.  We arrived at Porta Arenas about twelve hours late.


Porta Arenas, is a seaport city in the southern most portion of Chile and South America.  Porta Arenas is the largest southernmost city in the western hemisphere. During the late 1800s, Punta Arenas grew in size and importance due to the increasing maritime traffic and trade travelling to the west coasts of South and North America. This period of growth also resulted from the waves of European immigrants, attracted to the gold rush and sheep farming boom in the 1880s and early 1900s. Patagonia is a very large sheep farming area.  The city was a principle refueling stop for coal fired ocean going ships because of its location.  The reason this stop was on our tour was to visit Patagonia and Torres Del Paine National Park.  We spent a day touring the flat barren lands of Patagonia and another day touring Torres del Paine. The fantastically beautiful Torres del Paine National Park at the southern tip of the Andes Mountain chain rivals the Rocky Mountains in the U.S.  We had a bus tour through a small portion of the park and stopped for a lunch at a small resort located on a natural island in one of the park’s many lakes.  It was a wonderful full day excursion.  We returned to Porta Arenas for the night and off to The Easter Island the next morning.



Torre del Paine National Park Scenes

The Resort Where We Lunched One Of Many Spectacular Scenes



The flight to the Easter Islands, which are located in the southern Pacific Ocean some 2700 miles from Porta Arenas took almost eight hours.  We landed at the only airport on the islands and were bussed to our  nearby hotel. Geologically one of the youngest inhabited territories, Easter Island was, for most of its history, one of the most isolated cultures in the world. Its inhabitants believed to be Polynesian and  its history is not well understood.  The major attraction to the island are the impressive number and size of the Moais placed around the island.  It is known that most of these statues were carved from the rock in a giant volcanic crater and somehow moved from there to their places on the island.  There are still a number of unfinished Moais in the crater.  The carving of the Moais from the volcanic stone is amazing.  More amazing is how these giant carvings weighing many tons  were then separated from the rock in which they were carved. Even more amazing is how these giant carvings were moved to their current positions.  Also, somewhat amazing is the limited amount of weathering displayed by the Moais which are totally exposed to the elements.  The Moais are then either individually or in groups erected on impressive bases.   Most of these Moais are  standing several centuries after their erection.  We spent two days on Easter Island viewing many of the Moais and touring the crater where most of them were carved.



Fifteen Moais Guarding Easter Island The Pacific Ocean




From the Easter Islands we flew to Lima, Peru to refuel and then to partially retrace our flight path to the Galapagos Islands. The plane was not permitted to land on the Galapagos Islands originating from The Easter Islands.  And refueling on the Galapagos Islands was very expensive.  It was a long flight particularly with the stop for refueling.  The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador and are positioned some 600 miles west of Ecuador.  We arrived at the Galapagos Island airport and were bussed to a port where we embarked on small boats to make our way to a cruise ship anchored off shore.  We would spend three nights on the ship and two days visiting the Islands.  The cruise ship accommodations were upscale.  We traveled to and from the cruise ship to the Islands in large pontoon life rafts.  Additionally, these boats were used for viewing sea life near the shore.  The amount of sea life and birds on and around the islands was immense.  The variety of flora and fauna of the islands is extensive.  The wildlife and the vegetation of the Galapagos Islands have been extensively studied, beginning with Charles Darwin.


We spent most of our time on Santa Cruz Island,  the second largest island in the Galapagos which is the hub for most of the tourist activity in the area. The main town is Puerto Ayora. It is the site of the Charles Darwin Research Station. The Research Centre houses extensive tortoise enclosures.  The giant tortoise are an amazing sight.  The morning that we were scheduled to see the tortoise in their natural habitat, it rained very heavily.  We were mainly confined to a shelter building and did not see a single tortoise in the wild.  However, seeing them even in confinement at the research center was rewarding.   We spent one morning swimming off a beautiful beach which was near rocky formations which provided shelter for the hunted wildlife from their predators.  The water  was teeming with playful Galapagos Island Penguins  which delighted playing with the swimmers.  We also took a side trip to Sierra Negra Volcano.  It has one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world and one of the most active.  We also saw many of the Galapagos land iguana – the only one that swims.



 The Beautiful Beaches of Galapagos Islands  Giant Land Tortoise
 Sierra Negra Volcano.    Galapagos Land Iguana



We departed the Galapagos Islands for Lima, Peru  for the crowning stop of the entire tour – Machu Picchu!  As the Machu Picchu portion of the tour was described to us on this flight to Lima, we decided that Karen should not make that portion of the trip, because of the 11,150 feet elevation of Cusco, the jumping off  point of the Machu Picchu side trip, and her difficulty breathing.  TSA arranged an alternate tour for Karen and I, plus one other of our group who also was not comfortable  with the Machu Picchu’s elevation.  The Machu Picchu excursion was a two day trip, including a two hour flight each way between Lima and Cusco.  The group overnighted in Cusco and then left by bus and train for the village which served as the destination just thirty minutes from Machu Picchu.  The group spent most of the day at Machu Picchu. The three of us who had the alternate trip visited four large Inca ruins not far from Lima during the two days.  Each of the ruins were large forts built by the Incas.  Each of them were massive, with living accommodations for the families of the guards/fighters.  Our tours were not nearly as spectacular as the ones enjoyed by the rest of the group who visited  Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.  However, I did return to Machu Picchu some 14 years later with my family in 2014.


We left Lima for Miami some 30 days after beginning the trip.  During the flight back to Miami the pilots told us we had flown some 31,000 miles on the trip!  The cost was about $60,000 for both Karen and me.  We were in Miami only a short time, then boarded our flight to DFW and back to Kim and Dave’s home.  It was a long and tiring trip, particularly for Karen.  However, it was certainly a trip to remember, as  it was the only way to visit that many widely separately destinations in one month.  We settled in at Kim and Dave’s and prepared for retirement.


That November, George Bush, son of President George Herbert Walker Bush, and recently the Governor of Texas, was elected president over Al Gore the sitting Vice  President of the US  in an election that was decided by the narrowest of margins, including a razor thin win in Florida.  Florida was the last state to be decided and the winner of Florida would win the election. Florida was finally called by the US Supreme Court, putting Florida in Bush’s column gave him the necessary 270 electoral college votes.


Thanksgiving and Christmas 2000 were enjoyed  at Kim and Dave’s  new home in Southlake.    Cindie’s traveled to Southlake for a family Christmas. The gathering was delightful.  The  weather was cold and Dave’s swimming pool was not heated.  Dave kept the water circulating in cold weather to keep the pool equipment from freezing.  Consequently, the pool water temperature was probably in the mid-forties.  Brett or Kyle had found a golf ball from an errant shot that landed in their yard.  I threw the golf ball in the pool at the deepest place and told the six grandsons that I would give whichever one of them that retrieved the ball $5.  Brett was the only one that took me up on it.  To his credit he dove in, swam down to the about 8 feet depth and retrieved the ball. He surfaced sputtering and shivering and promptly jumped in to the hot tub.  He collected his $5.


Early in 2001 Karen and I decided to move back to our Lake Harmony home.  I was very concerned that she had little to do, was too sedimentary as well as drinking and smoking too much.  Kim was likewise concerned and we both suggested to Karen that she should enter into treatment to stop her dependence on alcohol.  Karen would not even talk about it, although she knew she was on a destructive path.  I continued to explore opportunities for corporate board positions, however, I had started this effort too late in my career.  I should have pursued this as soon as I was hired into Quanex however, I did not want to shortchange Quanex in any way by pursuing board position(s) as I began my Quanex employment.  Board positions particularly with larger companies are most often filled using “Good Old Boy Networks” and I did not have that connection.   Consequently, when I began pursuing any such opportunities in earnest it was too late. 


I did however, pursue business consulting opportunities.  One such consulting assignment was referred to me by David Carpenter, my old boss at HI.  His son had formed an investment management company and was investing some of his father’s considerable wealth in what they considered promising start-ups, mainly in the Internet/technical fields.  One of these start-ups, was an idea promoted by a commercial fisherman, originally from Argentina who had moved to the UK.  He was confident that he could form a commercial fish marketing company using the Internet to optimize the sales price received.  He convinced the Carpenters that he had a winning idea and just needed start-up funds.  The Carpenters invested in his company sufficiently to get the company launched on a limited basis.  Unfortunately, the progress was slower than expected and the Carpenters were uncertain as to whether to invest additional funds requested by the entrepreneur .


David Carpenter asked me to consult with his son’s investment company focusing specifically on evaluating this commercial fish marketing venture.  After familiarizing myself with what the Carpenters could tell me, I was off to the UK to spend time with the leadership of this new venture.  As you might expect the venture was launched with little market research – just using the knowledge of the idea’s originator and another friend or two  from the commercial fishing industry.  The more we analyzed the status of the venture the more it became apparent that this business would need considerably more capital to succeed than originally thought.  This was further complicated by the fact that one of the primary customers of this service was an Argentinian commercial fisherman friend who was short on capital to outfit his boats for the upcoming fishing season.  The start-up venture ill-advisedly loaned a significant amount of money to this friend secured by his “upcoming fish catch” and if that did not work out, his fishing fleet.  It didn’t work out as the amount of money advanced by the start-up venture to the fisherman turned out to be insufficient to get the fleet to the fishing grounds in time to harvest any fish. So, no catch and the venture was faced with foreclosing on a small Argentinian fisherman’s fishing boats.  A UK company trying to foreclose on a small  Argentinian fisherman’s fleet in Argentina was not easy.   The venture did not get it’s loaned capital back.  No further investments were forthcoming.  This was an interesting consulting gig but no opportunity for any continuing employment. 


 In 2001 our family returned to Glacier Lodge for our Davis Family Summer Reunion, however prior to checking into Glacier Lodge we joined our nephew Jason Davis in his wedding to Brenda Glennie in Evergreen, CO. Glacier Lodge served as a wonderful venue for our family reunions, however, it was becoming difficult to schedule our desired week every other summer as the occupant for a specific week the prior year had first dibs on that week the following year and they were not required to accept or reject that choice until January 1st of the year.  Hence scheduling  reunions every other year made it difficult to get the week at Glacier that we wanted – as it typically was a week in high demand by many summer guests.


In August, Dave’s  JB Robinson boss who was Executive Vice President of Cole National a Cleveland suburb headquartered optical business contacted Dave.  One of Cole’s major businesses was operating and managing some 500  optical stores  located in the Sears Department Stores throughout the U.S..  Dave was recruited from  Zales and joined Cole to manage the Sears optical businesses.  Dave and family relocated from Southlake to Hudson, Ohio a close suburb to Cole’s headquarters.  The family, particularly Kyle and Brett,  were very disappointed to leave their friends and the weather in Texas for northeast Ohio.   However, Kim’s family would then be only a five hour drive from our Lake Harmony home, essentially the same as Cindie’s family, but in the opposite direction.


The terrible morning 9/11/21 -


The morning of Tuesday, September 11, I was in my Lake Harmony home office working on the Carpenter’s consulting assignment.  Karen was sitting on the sofa in the great room having her morning coffee and watching the Today Show, when the first plane hit the World Trade Center North Tower.  On that day, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against the U.S.  Two of the planes were flown into the World Trade Center twin towers in NYC.  A third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, VA.  The fourth  plane was flying toward Washington, DC with a destination speculated to be either the White House or the Capital.  It was forced down into a field near Shanksville, PA by the passengers who stormed the cockpit knowing that were going to die one way or another.  The passengers no doubt saved many lives and possibly a critical Federal Government facility.  These attacks triggered a major U.S. campaign to combat and defeat terrorism. This campaign was a major focus of President George W. Bush in his two terms.


For the rest of that fateful day and for many days thereafter our attention was glued to the tv reporting on the horrific event.  Fortunately, Karen and I did not know anyone who was killed in this attack. The final counting later concluded that 2997 victims were killed or died of their injuries from that day.   For the next weeks the attack on the World Trade Center was the primary news.  The war on terrorism has continued into 2022.  Kim and Dave were on a business trip to Europe just prior to September 11th and were very fortunate to be able to fly back into the country before nearly all of the international flights were grounded until the authorities could sort out the extent of the September 11th attacks.


Our family celebrated Christmas that year in our Lake Harmony house.  Cindie’s drove down from Westford, MA and Kim’s from Hudson Ohio.  The six grandsons all piled into the bunk room and spent the waking hours splashing in the swim-spa, outdoors enjoying the snow or playing board games.  Karen and I had decorated the house with a large Christmas Tree in the great room and in the recreation room, Christmas lights hanging from the many outside eves on the house and a large Christmas Wreath on the front door.  We had missed doing Christmas in Lake Harmony.  It was a wonderful family Christmas.  


Karen and I celebrated a quiet New Year’s Eve watching the New Your City celebrations on tv.  We stayed close to home that winter, enjoying occasional dinners with Don and Pat Todd.  We traveled a couple of weekends each to Cindies and to Kim’s however, Karen was less and less comfortable with the 6 hour drives  to their homes.  I continued working the Carpenter’s consulting assignment and looking for other work opportunities.  Karen was declining cognitively and sleeping poorly.  Her doctor, a local MD was unsuccessful in convincing her to enter into treatment for alcoholism, as were her daughters and I.  Her doctor gave Karen a dire health warning but Karen was unwilling to accept her advice.  Karen had little energy and was more and more sedimentary.  She would drive to the local strip mall to purchase occasional groceries, cigarettes and vodka.  She had less and less interest in visiting with our various Lake Harmony friends or even dining out. She did not want to visit either Cindie or Kim’s as the drive was “too far”.  We were pretty much house bound.  Karen and I celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary on June 9th with a nice steak dinner at home.


On Thursday, June 20th, about 9 PM, I was working in my office upstairs.   Karen was in the great room watching television and engaging in her habitual evening pastime of drinking.  I heard her fall in the kitchen. I rushed to her.  She was on the kitchen floor sobbing and rubbing her left hip.  I asked her what happened and she murmured that she did not know “how I fell”.  I picked her up carefully and carried her to our nearby bed (her weight was only about ninety pounds).  I tried to determine how badly she was injured, but she could not describe her pain other than it was her left hip.  I quickly cleaned up the kitchen mess and then carried her to the car.  She said she could sit up and rode in the passenger seat.  We drove the thirty minute drive to the Wilkes-Barre Hospital emergency room.  After arriving at the emergency room, I located a wheel chair, placed Karen in it and wheeled her into the hospital.  Fortunately, there were only two other persons in the room looking for care.  Karen was seen  promptly.  The doctor asked me what had happened and I told him all that I knew.  (It was never clear to me whether she fell and broke her hip or her hip broke and she fell.)   Karen was little help, as her pain was increasingly intense.  The doctor examined her quickly and then dispatched her for X-rays.  The X-rays were read promptly and the doctor advised me that she had a broken hip . He recommended surgery asap, to which I agreed.


The surgery was performed early the following morning and it was pronounced a success.  I visited briefly with Karen after she had recovered from the surgery  but she was groggy and wanted to sleep.  I called both Cindie and Kim to tell them of Karen’s situation.  Karen was alert later in the day as the medications seemed to have her pain under control.  The doctors were  satisfied with Karen’s post-surgery progress and on Saturday morning suggested that she be transferred to a nearby rehab center for continued recovery and physical therapy.  


She was transported to the rehab center some ten miles away by ambulance.  She seemed sanguine with being in the rehab facility.  However, the rehab facility was not a full nursing facility and it was clear to me that I would need to be with Karen much of the time.  Additionally, Karen, was refusing to eat and was being very difficult  with the nursing staff in the center.  On Sunday, the doctor in the rehab center who had admitted her to the rehab facility, determined that Karen needed more continual nursing care and returned her to the hospital for additional treatment and care.  This latest move was taken after I had left that evening and I was unaware of it until I returned to the rehab center early the following morning.  I then went to the hospital to find Karen who was having a bit of breakfast in her new room. 


Cindie and her boys drove from their home on Monday to visit Karen.  Karen was not very alert nor interested in visiting with them.  I left with Cindie and the boys after Karen had eaten a small portion of her dinner and told us that she wanted to sleep.  Kim, Dave and their boys  drove to Lake Harmony arriving early Monday  evening.  Cindie, Kim, Dave, their six sons and I visited a while. 


Karen Swanson Davis dies –


Cindie and I planned to drive to the hospital first thing Tuesday morning.  Kim and Dave plus their sons planned to come to the hospital later that morning.   As Cindie and I were driving to the hospital that  morning,  Dave had taken a call on our home phone from someone at the hospital who told him that Karen had died that morning.  He called Cindie to tell her and asked her to tell me, as he knew that I was driving and Dave did not want the news to disturb me to the point of having an accident.  Cindie and I continued to the hospital.  Karen was still in her room as the staff waited for the family to see Karen one last time.  Cindie and I spent some time with Karen.  Kim decided not to go to the hospital as she wanted to remember Karen as she was when Kim and Karen were last together.  Karen’s death was listed as respiratory failure – her fifty years of smoking got her.


Cindie and I dealt with the discharge from the hospital and began working with the mortuary.  Karen and I had previously decided that we would be cremated when the time came.  We  kept Don and Pat Todd informed as to Karen’s hospitalization.  One of them told Split Rock  Resort of Karen’s death and the resort employees delivered a small mountain of food for our family.  Brian arranged his schedule and left work to join us in Lake Harmony.  Cindie, Kim and I planned a memorial service to be held in Lake Harmony for the following Saturday.  We advised my and Karen’s family that we would have a memorial and burial service in Iowa in the fall which would give our families more time to plan on attending.


The Lake Harmony memorial service was well attended by our Split Rock Resort friends and neighbors. A copy of the memorial service and Karen’s obituary follow:



Our six grandsons were the Honorary Bearers.  Grandson Kevin wrote a very nice eulogy which he delivered at the Split Rock memorial. 






On the weekend of October 12 and 13, our family gathered in Iowa for Karen’s Iowa memorial service and burial, which were held at the Hartland Friends Church and Hartland Cemetery respectfully.  Nearly all of my siblings and family joined us as did Karen’s sister-in-law, Lee and her daughter Lynn.  Several of our relatives on dad’s side of the family also joined us.  After the memorial service the attendees walked the forty yards to the next door cemetery and the Ware and Davis plots.  Karen and when the time comes, my headstone is next my parents and near my mother’s family.   Brother  Bob  had  coordinated  the purchase and installation of the headstone.   Karen’s ashes were buried behind the stone.  Cindie’s idea was to have the headstone engraving include a cat looking over us. Bob also hosted our immediate family at a typical Iowa burger and ice cream dinner on Saturday evening.  Kim, Dave and their sons flew into Marshalltown on their company’s private jet.


Between Karen’s memorial service in Lake Harmony and in Iowa, I spent my time remembering Karen, distributing her clothes, jewelry and other possessions to Cindie and Kim, their sons and friends and neighbors who had use for them and visiting Cindie and Kim’s at their homes.  Her clothing went to a local charity which was delighted to receive such good and much of it only slightly used.  Cindie and Kim took the valuable pieces of jewelry.  Prior to Karen’s death, Cindie and her family had planned a short vacation trip to Bermuda.  They invited me to go with them which was an invitation I gladly accepted. It was my only visit to Bermuda and among other things we swam with the dolphins in a pool.  I made at least three trips, mainly over weekends, to each of Cindies and Kim’s in the six months following Karen’s death. Our very good friend, Ben Shapiro invited me to lunch and an afternoon with him just visiting the MA countryside, beaches and other sites.  It was a wonderful afternoon and I really appreciated his reaching out to me.  I joined Cindie’s family for Thanksgiving. 


Our family gathered at my Lake Harmony home for Christmas.  Nancy and Neal travelled to PA to join us for our first Christmas without Karen is some 46 years.  Nancy and Neal arrived at the Newark, NJ airport a few days before the others.  Nancy wanted to go to NYC as she had never been there. I  picked them up at the airport and we drove into Manhattan from Newark. The three of us spent two whirlwind days in the Big Apple, staying at the theater district Marriott Hotel, visiting, a number of the tourist sites, attending a Broadway play, eating too much and doing some last minute shopping.  Late in the evening we stopped into a Marriott housed art gallery.  There was an 18” by 18” statue of an eagle with wings some-what unfolded for sale.  I believe the price was about $6000.  I have always liked eagles and had never owned a statue of one.  I offered the owner $3000 providing he would ship it to Lake Harmony.  To my surprise he accepted the offer!  Did not even counter my offer.  Two days after returning from NYC, the eagle arrived at our house in a wooden box which must have been 4’x4’x4’.  We unpackaged it and proudly displayed it in our great room TV cabinet.


Cindies and Kim’s both arrived a few days before Christmas.  In addition, Brian’s widowed mother, Felicia came with them.  We had a very active family Christmas with almost continuing roaring fires in the fireplaces – I had too much time on my hands earlier in the year, and when offered the opportunity to harvest wood from several hardwood trees on a neighbor’s lot which was being cleared for the construction of a house, I accepted.  I had some 8 to 10 cords of great firewood to burn.  We celebrated a wonderful Christmas dinner with the fifteen of us plus we invited Don and Pat Todd to join us for dinner.  The adults ate in the dining room and the six grandsons ate in the great room-kitchen dining area. 


Nancy and Neal were scheduled to fly home (Seattle, WA) from the Newark airport on the red-eye flight on Christmas night.  About mid-afternoon very heavy snowfall began.  Brian and I drove Nancy and Neal to the Newark airport in one of the heaviest snow falls that I have ever experienced.  Fortunately, we were on Interstates nearly all the way.  We dropped Nancy and Neal at the airport several hours earlier than their flight, which fortunately was on time.  Brian drove back to Lake Harmony in the heavy snow.  Fortunately, the local roads we needed to use were also reasonably plowed.  When we arrived at our house, Dave was out in our drive and parking area with  my snow blower clearing the way to access our garage. We celebrated New Year’s Eve at our home in Lake Harmony.  The girl’s and their families headed to their respective homes the next day, fortunately the weather was good.  I resumed my efforts to find consulting work or other engagements which would challenge me but was mostly unsuccessful.  I planned a trip to Arizona, to visit my sister Bev and her husband, in Scottsdale. I thought about possibly relocating to Arizona as I had little interest in spending my winters in Lake Harmony. However,  I did not want to be that far from Cindie’s in Boston and Kim’s in Cleveland.  It was a dilemma.


On May 26, 2003 the Split Rock Cottage Owners Association (SRCOA) initiated a Split Rock Community Memorial Garden, paid for by the owner of the Resort.  A plaque containing the names of all residents who were deceased since the SRCOA was formed was dedicated.  Karen’s name is on  that plaque.  Don and Pat Todd donated a bench named for Karen for visitors to rest on which was placed near the memorial rock.  Cindie, Brian and the boys came to Split Rock for the weekend and attended the very nice celebration with me and our SRCOA friends and neighbors.


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