Evergreen Funeral Home

Karen Stimeling

Died: Monday, September 11th, 2023

Celebration of Life: 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, 2023 at the Holcombe United Methodist Church with Pastors Paul Messmer, Steve Scott, Don Drollinger and Wisconsin Conference Bishop Hee Soo Jung presiding
Church address: 27841 County Hwy M, Holcombe, WI 54745.

Visitation: Friday evening (Sept. 22) from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the church and also one hour prior to service on Saturday

A private interment will be held at a later date

Karen requested no flowers. Instead, please give a monetary gift to:
Feed My People
the Lake Holcombe School District Education Foundation
or a scholarship of your choosing


Karen Stimeling, age 83, long-time resident of Holcombe, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully on Monday, September 11, 2023.

Karen was born September 19, 1939 at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois. Her parents, Russell and Dorothy Willsey resided in nearby Pittsfield, Illinois and christened their only child, Glenda Karen. She was baptized in the Pittsfield Methodist Church and named for her mother's brother, Glenn. However, Karen chose to use her middle name for the rest of her life. The family joke was that Karen was born on the same day as her parents' wedding, albeit eight years later.

Karen graduated from Pittsfield High School in 1957 and then entered Illinois State University, earning a B.S. in Elementary Education in 1961. She often said that she felt blessed by the friendships from her high school and university years, many of whom kept in touch for nearly 70 years.

Karen married Bill Stimeling in the summer of '61 and they began their life together as teachers in the Park Forest, IL public schools. She was considered one of the finest elementary teachers in the district and could still recall the names of many of her students. Karen and Bill would move to Peoria when Bill accepted a teaching/coaching position for Richwoods Community H.S. and Karen taught in the Mossville, IL elementary school. While in Peoria, Karen and Bill were blessed with a son, Kurt William. The family, now numbering three, then moved to Bloomington, IN for graduate study, after which Karen and Bill moved to Racine, WI. While Bill began his work for the Unified School District of Racine, Karen served as a teacher for the Racine Cooperative Nursery School and quickly became an invaluable part of the teaching/learning team. She LOVED working with children and it showed!

Their educational odyssey next took them to Williams Bay, WI where Bill assumed the role of superintendent of schools and Karen taught at the nearby Fontana Elementary School. Their next stop was River Falls when Bill was hired as that school district's superintendent. Karen, ever the servant, volunteered in a number of capacities for the schools, civic organizations and her church.

There were several more stops along the way as job opportunities and parental health-issues dictated a move to Illinois and finally, a return to beloved Wisconsin. During this time, son Kurt's marriage was blessed with two sons, Zach and Luke. The three men were the joy of Karen's life and she always had a large smile on her face whenever she spent time or spoke with them.

Blessed with a beautiful, pure soprano voice, Karen's musical-training had begun in junior high. She was a key-member of her Pittsfield High School's music program and later Illinois State University's concert choir. Karen performed with a number of musical groups throughout her life, and greatly enjoyed singing with the "Music Madams," a well-recognized women's chorus in River Falls, WI.  During the years of living in River Falls, Karen was active in the River Falls United Methodist Church and it was during this time that she became a member of United Methodist Women (UMW). Karen served the UMW in a number of capacities, among them Wisconsin Conference president. She was also a 50-year member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).  For the duration of her life, she was a champion for both organizations' social causes and service projects.

One of her favorite musical experiences was portraying the role of a joy-filled Queen in the Holcombe church's annual Madrigal Dinners. A special memory was the time that Kurt traveled from New Hampshire to serve as the Madrigal's "Crier," during which he often interacted with the "Queen Mum."

Bill and Karen resided in Holcombe, WI for over 30 years and it was their place on the lake where Karen intended to celebrate her and Bill's 62nd wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, Karen suffered a stroke which changed that plan. Instead, they celebrated their anniversary in Mayo's Critical Care Unit.

The lake house was where Karen was most at peace and she loved the water and the wildlife that were drawn to it. She was a wonderful cook and an accomplished designer of beautiful decorative dried flower arrangements. She was a patient listener who imparted meaningful counsel to anyone privileged to spend time with her.

Karen loved her church and the many ways in which it served others. Her closest friends described her as "walking the walk" for Christ. Her favorite Scripture was 1st Corinthians 13 in its entirety…and she lived it. She believed there was life beyond death and did not fear the final transition. 

Karen is survived by her husband, Bill; her son, Kurt; grandsons, Zachary and Lucas; several cousins; and many dear friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; both sets of grandparents; and her in-laws.

Special thanks are extended to the Eau Claire Mayo Clinic Health System and the Cornell Health Center staff for their compassionate care.