Karen J. “Katie” Carolan

Karen J. “Katie” Carolan was born June 16, 1956 to Robert and Carol Stephenson in Milwaukee, WI. She died of complications from cancer on April 9, 2023 in Rochester, MN, at peace and surrounded by her husband and children. She was preceded in death by her parents and beloved friends Glenn Schroeder and Beth Bliss. She is survived by her husband, Mike Carolan; children Jake (Jenny) Carolan, Ben (Jess Dorschner) Carolan, Molly (Joe) Moon; grandchildren Dexter and Simon; brother Scott (Shirley) Stephenson and sister Gail (John) Firer.

Karen grew up in Milwaukee, graduating from Custer High School in 1974. She attended college at UW-Whitewater, earning a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology. In college she also formed rich, lifelong friendships and met Mike, with whom she shared a wonderful marriage of 42 years. Karen and Mike shared an enduring love that carried them through the trials and joys of life together, raising a loving family.

During her career as a speech pathologist, Karen provided excellent service and care to the community. She especially enjoyed working with students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and she loved seeing the “Aha!” moment when a child realized a successful communication. Working at Curative and in the Franklin Public Schools, Karen provided vital support to the children she worked with while also developing rich friendships with her coworkers. She cared deeply for the people she worked with, and she was well-loved in return.

Karen made connections everywhere she went. From her childhood and working years in Wisconsin to her retirement in Waterville, Minnesota, she formed and grew friendships which enriched her life and the lives of those she touched. She loved her annual trip with her Gal Pals in Wisconsin, and her nights at the fire pit with her Waterville friends and neighbors. When she wasn’t out with her husband or friends, she could be found working in her garden or drinking coffee on the deck, watching the sunset on Lake Tetonka.

Karen loved nature, singing, dancing, and above all else her family. Frequent family gatherings with her brother and sister were filled with music, laughter, and joy. She loved her children deeply and fiercely. As they found success in the world, she was endlessly proud of them, and later of her grandchildren Dexter and Simon, who she treasured absolutely.

We are grateful for the quality of care and kindness shown by the medical team at the Mayo Clinic. A celebration of life will be held in the Milwaukee area in June.



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