Karen Jean Vorderstrasse

Date of birth: December 7 1937

Date of death: October 28 2019

Karen Jean Vorderstrasse passed away on October 28th, 2019 at home with her family.


Karen was born on December 7th, 1937 in Harvey, North Dakota. After graduating from Harvey High School, Karen earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Minnesota, enlisted in the Navy, and served at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Bethesda MD. After her service, Karen came to Portland OR to teach nursing at Emmanuel Hospital. During this time, a friend set her up on a blind date with Roger Vorderstrasse, whom she would eventually marry and have two daughters, Beth and Kay. Later in her life, Karen returned to school to get her Master’s Degree in nursing at OHSU. She continued her professional career at the VA hospital working as a home care nurse and as the Community Health Coordinator until her retirement. In addition to her work activities, Karen also volunteered in her community including teaching childbirth and infant care classes at the YWCA and the Red Cross, serving as a hospice nurse, and helping at countless church events. She was a lifelong Lutheran and a true ”Church Basement Lady”.

Karen especially enjoyed spending time with family and friends – and she absolutely loved being a grandmother to granddaughters Annika and Katrina. The family had many adventures with Roger’s sister Louise and brother-in-law Dave and their children and families over the years. Highlights include annual camping trips to the San Juan Islands, day trips to “the Hill”, winter picnics, afternoon tea gatherings, and coffee nudge nights. She also organized many family road trips to Yellowstone, Ashland, Victoria, and to North Dakota to see her family.

As evidenced by her extensive collection of art books and music CDs, Karen loved all things related to the arts. She was a season subscriber to several local theatre companies (she especially loved musicals), as well as to the symphony, opera, and ballet. On family vacations she would stop at every museum they encountered and never left without purchasing a souvenir book about the collection they had just seen. When shopping at Costco she also rarely left without purchasing at least one book or classical music CD collection. Once her grandchildren were born, she took shopping for books to a new level and filled many bookcases with wonderful finds. One of her greatest joys was sitting and reading to them for hours.

Karen is survived by her husband Roger, daughters Beth (Eric) and Kay, granddaughters Annika and Katrina, as well as nieces Kathy (Larry) and Wanda, nephew Mike (Julie), and their families. She is also survived by her brother Peter (Julie) and sister-in-law Betty. She was preceded in death by her brother Jon and her sister-in-law and brother-in-law Louise and Dave.

The family would like to thank the staff at Cedar Crest Alzheimer’s Care Center for the love and care they gave her over the past 2 ½ years.

Karen’s memorial service will be held on November 16th at 11 AM at St. Luke Lutheran Church (4595 SW California St, Portland, OR 97219). Karen was a kind and caring person who supported numerous service organizations.For those desiring to make a memorial contribution, the family suggests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, Habitat for Humanity, your local food bank, or another organization that serves those in need.

7 tribute candles have been lit

Candle lit by Staff at Crown Memorial Center Our sincere condolences.

Candle lit by Mary Harr Stevens Cousin Karen was always a hero to me!

Candle lit by Derse Steward Years ago I was a young RN at the VA and was always glad to see Karen there with students. She had a friendly, welcoming way about her that I saw as very comforting.Plus her sweet smile which her obituary picture perfectly captures! Many many years have passed and I enjoyed reading about her wonderful life. This now retired former RN has never forgotten Karen and I would like to offer my sincere condolences to her family and friends.

Candle lit by Michael and Julie Packard

Candle lit by Karen Randklev Geiger She was a monderful instructer at Emanuel School of Nursing which I went.

Candle lit by Jean Herrera Karen was a nurse in our HBHC program at the Portland VA where I was a social worker and administrator. She was always so gracious and the ultimate professional in her field. All who were cared for by her and knew her as a person as well as a nurse were lucky.

Candle lit by Sharon Bentz Pantely Karen was a dear, soft spoken friend, fellow professional, as we volunteered as school nurses together. She was an incredible advocate for anyone. My pleasure to have known her and worshiped with her over the years. Cherish the memory of her kindness.????????????