In Memory

Karen Jaffe (Ward) VIEW PROFILE

Karen Jaffe (Ward)

MISSOULA — A brilliant spark of life went out on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, as Karen Ward passed away in her sleep at age 71. Not one to let a speed bump like death slow her down, she will no doubt be telling jokes, playing cards, organizing dinner parties, writing hilarious Christmas cards, setting people up on dates, serving on committees, giving speeches, joining clubs, reading good books and enjoying gourmet food wherever her unstoppable spirit chooses to roam.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in New Jersey, she found her home in Missoula in the early 1980s. With an enormous passion for life, she was a natural born woman of action - a true doer. And do she did, earning two Master’s degrees, serving as Chair of the school board, loyally enforcing Missoula’s zoning and housing regulations as an employee with the Housing Authority and the City Planning department, becoming one of Montana’s few Distinguished Toastmasters, leading the Kiwanis club as President, constantly fighting for affordable housing, and generally being an all-around, wonderful human being. Among her many activities, she may have dedicated the most time to her work as a volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). She was a tireless advocate for those struggling with mental illness and their families.

Never the center of attention, Karen was always the life of the party - especially if it was a Halloween party. As her husband Keith always said, she loved people so much that if she met four people on the street she would assume it was a club and want to join. It’s no surprise she was the member of three book clubs, a spirituality group, a poetry group, a card group, a movie club, a gourmet club, a golf league, a bridge club, and the list goes on.

As much as she loved bringing people together - and she’d often remind friends she was responsible for matchmaking more than one marriage - a close second may have been food and travel. In her never ending adventures around the world, she would inevitably let TripAdvisor lead her to a new culinary paradise. As anyone who shared a meal with her knows, most bites of delicious food would lead to an ecstatic proclamation of “that’s the BEST thing I’ve ever tasted!”

Karen is survived by her loyal travel companion and husband, Keith Thurlkill. Her spirit will live on in her two sons Ryan and Blake Ward, Blake’s wife Anne, Keith’s children Stephanie Hiatt and Stuart Thurlkill, and Stuart’s wife Katie.  She is also survived by her two brothers Jim and Jon Jaffe, and Jon’s family, Carol, Catherine and Sarah, as well as her former husband Al Ward. Finally, the one-of-a-kind Grandma KK leaves behind a loving army of grandchildren including Grace and Maggie (Blake), Jackson (Stephanie), and Caleb, Jenna and Brooke (Stuart).  

A celebration of Karen’s life will be held at the pavilion at Fort Missoula Regional Park on the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 2 from 2-4 p.m. Bring your favorite joke to share with friends.

For someone who loved to tell people about all the books, movies, articles and quotes that would “change their lives”, we all know it was really Karen’s friendship, love and presence that did all the changing. May her soul rest in peace, although rest wasn’t really in her vocabulary. Better yet may her soul stay busy teaching us all to savor every beautiful, uplifting, challenging, delicious, fun, scary, joyful and hilarious moment that life has to offer. That's how she would want it.  

go to bottom 
  Post Comment

08/18/18 07:43 AM #1    

Patricia D. Burke (Kuhn)

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful tribute to an amazing lady!  Sweet Karen, it was a joy knowing you in high school, but I wish I had lived next to you the rest of my life.  I am dancing for you today.  With much love and admiration, Patti

08/18/18 10:45 AM #2    

Kathryn Zenker (Schulte)

Oh, my!  What a beautiful tribute!  I remember Karen so clearly.  It was her smile that brightened my day.  I know I would have loved her energy and zest for life, her sensitivity and concern for others.  Amen Karen!

08/18/18 05:01 PM #3    

Sue Ann Robinson

Such an amazing and no doubt modest tribute to Karen! I wish I had the opportunity of visiting her in Montana!


08/18/18 07:20 PM #4    

Michael Vernotico

A real Sweetheart.....too young......she's making the angels smile.  God Bless.

go to top 
  Post Comment


Click here to see Karen's last Profile entry.