Karen Howard

Born: Wednesday, November 10, 1943
Passed: Monday, August 7, 2017

8/12/2017 | 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Fred C. Olson Chapel  , Rockford IL 
Add to Calendar 8/12/2017 8/12/2017 11 Karen Howard Visitation Karen Howard Visitation at Fred C. Olson Chapel Fred C. Olson Chapel Olson Funeral Homes contact@olsonfh.com true DD/MM/YYYY

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Karen Howard, 73, of Rockford, passed away August 7, 2017. She was born November 10, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of George Dewey and Elsie (Norton Hayes) Nielsen. Karen married William "Bill" Howard on December 19, 1964 at Court Street United Methodist Church. She worked as an Arts presenter with Charlotte's Web in Rockford for more than 3 decades. Karen was active in many organizations in the community including: RAAC, Mendelssohn Club, NAT, The Muses of Rockford, Black Theater Ensemble, Uncommon Lives, ArtsPlace, On The Waterfront, First Night Rockford, Y2k, The Farm House, Hononegah PAC, RAMI, and Cabin Fever Jamboree; many of which she was a founding member . She was also active in arts and social justice organizations at Northwestern University.
She is survived by her husband, William; daughters, Jennifer (Ruben) Howard-Baker of Norwalk, CT and Melanie "Lani" (Josh) Richardson of Rockton, IL; grandchildren, Kaila and Nakita Baker, and Duncan and Connor Richardson; and cousins, Rick Nielsen, Tim (Rebecca) Russell, Pete (Cindy) Russell, and Mark (Giny) Russell. Karen is predeceased by her parents; aunt, Marilyn Nielsen; uncle, Ralph Nielsen; and cousin, Mike Russell.
Visitation will be held on Saturday, August 12, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Fred C. Olson Chapel, 1001 Second Ave., Rockford, with an invite to share memories and stories at 11:00 a.m. A private family Celebration of Life will be held on the family's farm at a later date. Memorials can be made to RAMI Scholarship Foundation, PO BOX 4128, Rockford, IL 61110.

Condolences & Shared Memories (60)

  1. Rebecca Russell

    Upon moving to Illinois, white-knuckled and clench-jawed, Karen, Bill, Jen and Lani were the first of the family to make me feel welcome, accepted and "home". Seriously, the first. Great memories of times spent at "The Compound" and hope for many more. May the space Karen left be filled with joy and peace. Love you all.

  2. John Larsen

    WIll mIss. You. Thanks for the great entertainment. Love

  3. Michelle Princer

    I will miss your visits to my restaurant when you were on a milk run. I enjoy talking to both of you and sharing our love of dogs and most particularly vizslas. Rest in peace my friend. *hugs* Michelle Princer

  4. Asha Rehnberg

    Though we've been out of touch for more than 30 years, Karen was immensely influential in my life. She hired my under-aged and over eager self to work behind the scenes at Charlotte's Web in the mid 70s: organizing files, answering mail, writing press releases, working the door, and much more. I was and remain so grateful for her kindness and trust, and for the opportunity to prove (and discover for myself) that I had useful talents to offer. And what's more, that those talents (despite youthful foolishness) could gain me entry into such a wonderful, funny, tolerant, heart- and art-filled world as the one she and Bill created. Thank you, sweet Ruby Skye. And my deepest sympathies to Bill, Jennifer and Lanie.

  5. Karen & Richard Coppoletti

    Dear Bill and family, We were saddened to hear about Karen's passing. We did not have the pleasure of knowing her but it is obvious she was well loved and contributed greatly to our community. We appreciate the assistance you provided us many years ago. We extend our condolences and prayers to you and your family.

  6. Sandy Moore

    I learned about music from Karen by listening and volunteering for the Web. I soon exposed my children at a young age to the kids shows. Karen always treated everyone, even children with respect. Karen will be missed on this earth but I know she is organizing bands to play in her next life. I am so sorry Bill, Lani and Jenni for your loss. Also the rest of the family....take joy in knowing Karen and everything she has taught us all. Peace.

  7. Susan Williams

    There is a great big hole in Rockford 's heart, but Karen 's soul will always be with all of us. She taught us the power and glory of music and spent her life bringing it to all kinds of people. We shall not forget her.

  8. Tom Gibbs

    I'm so sorry to hear of Karen's passing. She made significant contributions to the culture and general well being of the community. My sympathy to Bill, Lani, and Jenni.

  9. Terry and Tanny Koper

    So sorry to hear of your loss, Bill. We have fond memories of The Web and playing music at your house...and ours.

  10. J. J. White

    So sorry, Bill. Many fond memories of you both. Hope you and the rest of your family are ok. All our thoughts are with you. JJ and Marsha White.

  11. Nicholas Winter

    I have fond memories of Karen from East HS. We were lab partners in chemistry. Bill and I were on the track team together. My condolences to Bill and the family.

  12. Valeri DeCastris and David Beccue

    Whoa...what news to read today first thing in the paper...this is horrible news. Ruby Sky is "in the sky" now. Hard to believe. What a trailblazer, what a legend, what a loss to us all and to the music community. My email address says it all: rockfordrocks. Rockford does rock and part of that is because of Karen. How well I remember going to Charlotte's Web in high school, eating Mrs. Fisher's chips and sitting on cable spool tables. How I miss that old synagogue, although I know you didn't miss that building! We were privileged to work many shows as volunteers with the Web at many venue sites. And to hang at Bill and Karen's cool house in the country. In later years, Lani and Josh worked us too...so much fun, so many great acts, so much music and camaraderie all around. We aren't fans of folk music, but who couldn't "get folked" with the Howards around. They have certainly left their mark on Rockford and the surrounding environs. I can't imagine what Frank Shier would have though of us losing Karen and I am sure that they are yuckin it up in the cosmos right now, probably listening to some good jams...Glen Campbell maybe this week? Thank you Karen for your gift of music appreciation to Rockford and your service to our community and the RAMIS and the Legend concerts that featured my father Val Eddy and so many talented jazz and other musicians. So glad that we made the anniversary parties and were a part of the music magic of Rockford, nurtured and promoted by the Howards. God Speed! Condolences to Bill, Lani and Jennifer and the whole family. May the universe and the love of friends and family bring you comfort and help you to cherish your memories of her.

  13. Virginia Lapasso

    I have fond memories of Karen. She was, as many have said, unfailingly kind and enthusiastic. Blessings to you, Bill, and your family.

  14. Reggie Hunter

    My condolences to the Howard Family.

  15. Roscoe Burks, jr.

    I have no words to express my joy of having known Karen. My years of hanging around Charlotte's Web were some of the best years of my life. Who else would bring Leon Redbone to Rockford one week, and Martin, Bogan and Armstrong the next??? The arts community in Rockford has lost a queen!!

  16. Karen Winquist

    Bill and Family, So sorry for your loss. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

  17. Joanne Junor Foster

    Karen was a great Pledge-Mom and Delta Zeta sister to me at Northwestern. I love to think of her smile and laugh😄

  18. Cindy Jo Lantz

    No one can sum up the impact Karen on Rockford's artistic community. Her determination and generous spirit expanded the arts in Rockford. Let's not forget that delightful twitch of the nose after she made her point of view clear. Will miss you Karen! RIP

  19. Jim Didier

    Such a wonderful woman. God bless her. Condolences to her family and friends.

  20. Ernie Webster

    I met Karen and Bill around 1974 through Charlotte's Web and was welcomed in their lives from that time on. Karen was always a sweet and accepting person and I am a better person for having known her. God bless you Karen...

  21. Rudy and Laura Ortiz

    Karen was such a beautiful, fun, creative and hard-working lady. This community is better because of her contributions. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

  22. Nancy Mindrup

    I never knew Karen, but she had an impact on my life by her enthusiasm for, and her encouragement of music. My life was better because of her. I am sure many others who never met her feel likewise.

  23. Mike Drager - Duluth MN.

    Bill so sorry to here of Karen's passing. A group of us were sharing memories of you and Karen at Charlotte's Web and the many, many great times we had there. She always met us with a smile and a hug. We will always remember both of you.

  24. Tim Flynn

    Such pleasant memories of Karen, Bill and the whole gang at Charlottes Web. I have always felt grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of that scene. RIP

  25. Pat and Bob Sullivan

    Karen changed the face of music in Rockford. She was a delight to know, and a pleasure to work with. What a myriad of gifts she has bestowed upon the community! To her family: may you be blessed with many happy memories of times spent with her.

  26. Lori Berkes-Nelson

    Karen was someone that I first met when I moved to Rockford and volunteered for First Night Rockford on the 1st Steering Committee. She was so passionate and committed to Rockford, Music and the Arts. I thought she was famous! Rest in Peace Karen. Enjoy the music of the heavens! Peace to the family and all those who are missing her.

  27. Martha Dahlberg

    Karen had her hand on the music pulse of Rockford. The greatness and artistic variety of Charlottes Web was dear to her heart. Such a great person!

  28. Mary Ellen Chostner

    God speed 'Ruby Sky"!

  29. Stanley Campbell

    I returned from Vietnam a bitter man and quickly found refuge at Charlotte's Web, where a then young couple Bill & Karen, were bringing musicians and sages from around the country. I was the guy busing and washing your beer glasses â€" it was good work, they treated me well, I got to see the shows for free and even was invited out to their farm. I think Karen was one of the most trusting people in the world, but don't be a cheat or cruel in front of her. I worked my way up to ticket taker for the performances, and found the power of being a gatekeeper â€" truth be told, I got good at gauging how much I could charge someone to get them to enter. Karen supported my ideas for benefits â€" raising money for a peace group, then an anti-nuclear power demonstration, and finally for the food pantries. In those Karen took great delight, and donations multiplied because of her generosity. I lost my soul in the military and found it at Charlotte's Web.

  30. Dan Voll

    Karen sure did plenty for my career and countless others. Nobody could book talent like her, always on the cutting edge R.I.P

  31. Steve Mutimer

    For three years Karen sat behind me at East High. She was a sweet, smart, funny wonderful kid and, as I saw her much less frequently over our adult years, she never lost her warm spirit. I wish Bill and her entire family God speed and know we are all better off for having known her ... for however long.

  32. Lee and Charmaine Schreiner

    She gave so much to so many. A great legacy.

  33. Bobbi Cooper

    Condolences to Bill and other members of this grieving family. Blessings to all of you.

  34. Mark Sjostrom

    Karen was a special part of my life. Charlotte's Web was a weekly rendevous for my late wife and myself, plus the scene of our wedding service. We watched Karen and Bill's kids grow and flourish and I will never forget Karen's little smiles and special looks. I will think of her often.

  35. Susan Osborn

    I first met Karen as a meme bear of the Paul winter Consort when we played Charlotte's Web in the late 70's. She lister invited me back a few times as a solo act. I will forever be grateful for her support. Blessings to her family.

  36. Ruth Mahnke Steffen

    I have many memories of times when Karen stayed with me as her parents would be out of town. We had kittens hidden outside several times that were our special secret. She was a close and special friend.

  37. Carmen Ferguson

    I'll never forget breakfasts at the farm and fishing for bluegills in the pond. Ruby and Bill were always unfailingly hospitable and always fun to follow.

  38. Skip Mattison

    Kathie and I were attending concerts at Charlotte's Web since it's inception thanks to Karen & Bill. Karen was the driving force in bringing musicians to Rockford that we otherwise never would have seen and heard with such ease. We cherished Karen for her drive, spirit and love of music. Rest in peace dear Karen. ❤

  39. Gerlinde Sampson

    My deepest condolences to all the family

  40. Nancy Rumbel

    What an amazing woman and generous supporter of the arts for so many, many years! Much Love to Bill, Melanie and the family! I will always fondly remember the concerts and many an after dinner Mexican meal with Karen & Bill for many, many years. It helped keep live acoustic music thriving and appreciated. Blessings on you All.

  41. Steve Marcon

    Bill, my deepest sympathies to you and your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  42. Sharon & Mel Hendricks

    Karen was a special lady and did a lot for our community. Charolette Web was one of her greatest accomplishments. God be with her and thoughts and prayers to her family.

  43. Jeanne Harris Nutter

    Karen, you granted me unconditional love at a time when I needed it most. You were such an important part of my life as I was struggling to find myself. I will keep you and your family in my heart forever. The world has lost an amazing woman.

  44. David Lindeman

    So many good memories from old days at Charlottes Web.

  45. Bill Lamps

    To the family an friends, very sorry for your loss. She will be missed dearly 👼ðŸ'–ðŸ'™ðŸ'—ðŸ'ŸðŸ'œðŸ'›ðŸ'Ÿ

  46. Gale Ekern

    Karen shared her passion with the world.....We shared a lot for the first time things, fostering a better world for all to live in.....she will be missed

  47. Lynette Wherley

    My condolences to Bill, Lani and family. Karen leaves a monumental legacy to Rockford, Music and all the artists she brought to Charlottes Web. What a beautiful life well lived.

  48. Elizabeth Coffey-Williams

    Love and light to the family, dear Bill, sweet Jen and Lani and to the Charlotte's Web family that reaches so very far and wide. Karen possessed a spirit and an energy that was without peer. She was smart, funny, loyal, gentle and sassy. I am forever blessed................. .................she was my friend.

  49. Sandra Spaulding Welte

    Karen, and Bill as well, were good friends in high school and Karen was my sister Kathy's, best friend then. I have many wonderful memories of our time together in orchestra and Sinfonietta at East H. S. and, just fun times when she was at our house. Karen introduced me to Charlotte's Web, and I followed her involvement in the arts. What a go getter and hard worker she was. Karen will be missed by so many in Rockford and surrounding areas.

  50. Scott Prine

    It is such an honor to have worked alongside of an with such a pioneer in the arts. Karen is a force who will be greatly missed.

  51. Juliana Pemble

    Thank you for bringing such joy into our families lives with music and arts. You will be truly missed. You were such a blessing to so many in this town with an impact and thumb print you have left for other's. Our condolences to ur family.

  52. Juliana Pemble

    Thank you for bringing such joy into our families lives with music and arts. You will be truly missed. You were such a blessing to so many in this town with an impact and thumb print you have left for other's. Our condolences to ur family.

  53. Pat Littlejohn

    Karen's hard work and eveready smile blessed this community for so long, and brought so much music to so many of us. We will miss her.

  54. Dan Eisman

    Karen's work with RAMI will never be forgotten as she helped build the organization. She will be truly missed. Peace to her family.

  55. Marty Spaulding

    I think of Karen from a long time ago and smile! She will be remembered!

  56. Michael Beert

    Karen was always quick with a helping hand and a smile. She helped so many people and will be remembered for her tireless pursuit of promoting the arts in Rockford. She will be greatly missed!

  57. Jay Graham

    Karen would have been a player in music culture wherever she lived...perhaps a giant (in the popular sense) in a community that valued music more broadly than the one she chose. I count myself lucky that she and her talented husband Bill chose Rockford. Long live Charlotte's Web's memory and the memory of Karen Howard.

  58. Victor Yehling

    Karen lived her life fully and supported what was right and beautiful. Her impact on the community will not be forgotten, and her contributions will be greatly missed.

  59. Richard Paul Thomas

    I have fond memories of meeting Karen so many years ago. Being a part of the Charlotte's Web Family was a true honor. I will never forget the support and love we received. My thoughts and love go out to her family.

  60. David A. Hedden

    Karen was a pioneer for the arts in Rockford and will be missed by all. One of a kind. My deepest sympathy to her family.

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