Obituary of Karen Lynn Heinrichs
Karen Lynn Heinrichs
(March 6, 1960 - April 6, 2021)
It is with profound sadness that we share that Karen passed away peacefully at the Hospice at Glengarda in Saskatoon on April 6, 2021.
Karen is survived by her loving daughter Jericho Penner, father Neil (Dianne Church) Heinrichs, brother Barry (Darlene) Heinrichs, sisters Donna (Norm) Heinrichs-Gale and Laura (Dan) Dyck, nieces Rebekah Heinrichs, Glynis (Michi) Gale-Schodterer and their children Albin and Oscar, Anna (Liam) Smith, Selena Dyck, Caley Dyck, and nephews Sam (Jill Belanger) Heinrichs and Graham Heinrichs-Gale. She was predeceased by her mother Esther Heinrichs and her brother Darcy.
Karen’s first devotion, commitment, focus, and loyalty was for her daughter Jericho. After Jericho, came the rest of her family, located in Winnipeg, and Mittersill, Austria. Karen made twice yearly trips to be with those of us in Winnipeg, and greatly enjoyed an excursion to Austria for a niece's wedding in 2013. For many years she developed a habit of weekly Sunday phone calls to her Dad in Winnipeg. At family gatherings Karen was always the first to join in a game of cards, scrabble, yahtzee, or other board games. She always had ideas for group activities, and especially child friendly activities that all the kids would enjoy.
Karen loved people and made a difference in many lives, especially the lives of children (some of whom never knew her), via her long career in early childhood education. She started in day care centres and later was recognized for her distinguished service with the Saskatchewan Department of Education, most recently as Program Manager of the Early Years Branch Central Region in Saskatoon. In her career she utilized to the fullest her degree in early childhood education from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. She was a continuous learner, kept abreast of developments in her field, and was a role model and mentor to numerous coworkers and child care staff along the way. Karen had an uncanny talent of zeroing in on the centre of a problem and solving it. Perhaps she enhanced these skills with her love of jigsaw puzzles! She loved her work and coworkers and made it clear in recent family conversations that she was not ready to retire.
Karen was a very accepting person whose kindness walked ahead of her at all times. She was a special advocate for the vulnerable. Prior to settling in Saskatoon, she volunteered at a summer camp for children with disabilities in Manitoba and with Mennonite Voluntary Service, serving disadvantaged populations in Chicago and St. Louis.
Karen was a lover and supporter of the arts, and enjoyed acquiring and making handmade pieces. Family members have many wonderful embroidered pieces from her. She always seemed to be attending one evening course or another, whether it was a pottery class, paint nights, or learning how to create art with fused glass. Her work as volunteer chair of the Saskatoon Fringe Festival won her accolades as well as a Tourism Leadership award from Tourism Saskatchewan for her distinguished service. She enjoyed the theatre, movies, and local festivals, and had volunteered on the board for the 25th Street Theatre Company. Karen was an avid reader and made fast friends in her book club. She was a strong advocate and ally for LGBTQ+ rights. She loved to sing and made strong friendships both as a chorister and board member with Saskatoon’s Bridge City Chorus. A spirit of volunteerism in big and small ways coursed through her veins.
A strong supporter of local eateries, Karen possessed an adventurous palate and enjoyed sampling new foods and new restaurants, with special favourites including Dim Sum. This venturesome spirit extended to her travels as well.
Karen loved giving gifts to others, big and small, but her greatest gift was being with us. When seemingly unresolveable challenges arose in her work or personal or professional life, she often recited the mantra, “It is what it is.” This was a signal to move on. It was with these brave words of acceptance that she confronted her diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour in February. Nonetheless, her giving nature will live on: she gifted her corneas to someone in need. In living and in dying Karen offers us a teaching moment of how to be gracious. We will miss her profoundly.
Karen’s family and friends would like to thank all the caring staff at the Royal University Hospital (especially in CancerCare) and at the Hospice at Glengarda for their love and compassion shown during Karen’s brief stay, as well as their support to visiting family and friends.
A future celebration of her life will be announced via Caring Bridge