It is with sadness that we share the news that Karen died on the particularly starry early morning of May 12, 2023.
Born in Vancouver on July 18, 1944, Karen was the only child to Norman and Pearl McRitchie. She spent her early years building strong and steadfast friendships at Templeton and Britannia Secondary Schools where a diverse student body fostered her compassion towards others. Outside of schoolwork, she spent her summers developing fond memories at the family cabin at Cultus Lake, aptly named ‘Dun Workin’.
Following a passion for educating and nurturing children, Karen began her teaching career at Capitol Hill Elementary in Burnaby. Later, while raising her own children in Salmon Arm, she worked as a teacher on call throughout the district, completing her Bachelor’s Degree via correspondence and then her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Victoria. Karen strongly identified as an educator and struggled to let go of her teacher certificate when she retired from North Canoe Elementary in 1999. Her intellectual curiosity and inherent patience to support people determining their own direction and pace served the students she taught, the teacher candidates she supervised, those she inspired (including children and grandchildren), and herself throughout much of her life.
She met Al on a snowy North Vancouver winter night in 1964 and they married on March 25, 1967. Like many others of the time, they bought a 1967 Mustang. They then drove it across the country to test drive married life, followed by many summertime family camping trips. During their retirement, travel with the 5th wheel trailer to the Oregon Coast became one of their favourites. They recently celebrated their 56th anniversary. Their relationship exemplified true devotion and mutual support through to the final hours of Karen’s life.
Moving to Salmon Arm in 1974 brought a whole new set of chapters to her life and that of her growing and extended family. Karen and Al purchased the ‘little white house on the hill with the red barn’, acquired a few animals, learned to ride horseback, and fully embraced rural life and the equestrian community of clinics, dressage events, pony club camps, and fall fair competitions. She did not aspire to win awards but was greatly satisfied with her own participation and involvement behind the scenes. She similarly supported her family in their pursuit of music, sports and schooling. Karen prioritized family and embraced the role of mother, grandmother and extended her role as auntie, participating in the lives of several young people.
Karen further developed her presence and voice in the community through the Shuswap Singers, the United Church Choir and her involvement on the church board. There she leveraged her ability to listen to differing viewpoints, seek consensus and establish a considered plan of action, including steps towards broader inclusivity. The labyrinth at the United Church is her spiritual legacy and gift to those that have contemplated and reflected along its path.
Karen is survived by her husband Al, their children Shannon Seed (Greg) and Cameron (Jennifer), and grandchildren Meghan, Malcolm, Graeme, Evan and Reid. Her loving guidance, incredible conversations and genuine presence will be deeply missed by all who knew her. The family would like to thank the staff at Bastion Place, Shuswap Hospice Society, and Karen’s wellness practitioners for their care, support and companionship provided to her during this difficult time. A gathering to celebrate Karen’s life will be planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Shuswap Hospice Society.