During my years of writing this blog, I’ve rarely attended funerals or memorial services. Those I attended were, for the most part, for people who touched my life in significant ways. This past Wednesday evening, a memorial service was held for Karen Brownsberger Gordon at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Karen passed on June 29 after a courageous battle with cancer. Trinity’s large sanctuary was packed with Karen’s family, friends, and aquaintences.
I first became aquainted with Karen and her husband Steve at this same church when they were active members there. I attended many of Trinity’s services for a while and blogged some of them in my Anchorage Daily News blog and column. Once, I attended a men’s retreat at her father’s, Dr. Keith Brownsberger, Kenai Lake cabin. At this time, I also met her husband, local artist Steve Gordon, who did much of the cooking for the retreat. A strong spiritual thread ran through their lives which was quite noticeable. This was attested to by so many of those offering euologies and remembrances at this service.
After retirement, I began teaching as a substitute teacher for the Anchorage School District. I discovered Karen was a kindergarten teacher at Northwood Elementary School, and worked with her and the adjoining kindergarten teacher during some assignments there, and in other departments such as library and music. Her warmth and personal contact with her students was a joy to witness. She always greeted me with a smile and a word, more than any other staff member.
As I continued to visit churches and document my visits, I would see her and husband Steve after they migrated from Trinity Presbyterian to Clear Water Church. She would always go out of her way to welcome me and have a kind word with me, before rushing off to care for the children in her ministry to them.
Her pastor, Mike Merriner, in one of his scripture quotations, captured the essence of what that evening meant vis a vis Karen’s life when he quoted John 14:1-4.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Karen walked the talk and was an inspiration to me. I was so happy to be a witness to a life well lived, and a person who touched me deeply by her patient, loving Christian walk. I will miss her.
A memorial fund has been set up to purchase books for Northwood Elementary School and snow gear for children in need. If Karen touched your life, I urge you support these works she personally supported from her own resources. This link will take you to GoFundMe to make a donation. https://gofund.me/690dbc46
Thank you for gracing my life Karen! Heartfelt condolences go to the family and friends of Karen and Steve Gordon.