Karen Kay Nelson Thurin was born November 19, 1941, at Palisade, Nebraska, to Floyd and Lavona Nelson. While Karen was an infant, her family moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where they lived for four years. In March 1945 the Nelson family returned to Palisade, Nebraska.
Karen graduated from Palisade High School and from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a degree in Mathematics. Karen taught two years at Ong, Nebraska, where she met Dick Thurin.
July 11, 1965, Karen Nelson and Richard Thurin were united in marriage at the Methodist Church in Palisade, Nebraska. Karen and Dick taught two years at Roseland, Nebraska, and then moved to Grant. Karen taught mathematics at Chase County High School in Imperial for three years. While teaching, Karen was active in teachers' organizations. Karen said her goal as a teacher was to encourage a student who loved algebra as much as she did.
For two years Karen was one of thirty mathematics teachers selected nationwide by the National Science Foundation to do graduate work at Colorado State University. She also did graduate work in mathematics at Kearney State College (UNK).
Karen's biography was listed in Community Leaders of America, International Who's Who in Community Service, and The World Who's Who of Women.
Karen worked part-time as secretary and secretary-treasurer of the Grant United Methodist Church. For over 2 years Karen wrote a column for the Church newsletter.
In June 1976 Karen began working part-time in the Perkins County Assessor's office. Her job as an appraisal clerk became full-time in January 1977. In January 1981 Karen was appointed Deputy Assessor. Karen served as Perkins County Assessor for two terms, January 1983 to January 1991. At the time Karen was Assessor, the NE Dept of Revenue set the land values for each of the counties. Even under threats from the NDOR, Karen refused to implement the inflated values set by the State. Eventually the NDOR admitted the values were not correct, and the land manual was not implemented. While an Assessor, Karen was active in the West Central District Assessors Association and the County Assessors' Association of Nebraska. She served as secretary of the County Assessors' Association of Nebraska. Karen also served as Chairperson and Co-Chairperson of the Communication Committee and served on the Audit, Communication, and Legislative Committees. Karen was Vice President and President of the West Central District Assessors. She was also a member of the International Institute of Public Appraisers, Ltd., International Association of Assessing Officers, and College of Real Estate Appraisers.
January 1999 through January 2015 Karen worked part-time for the Perkins County Clerk. Karen did payroll, accounts payable and some work in the voter program.
Karen and Dick had one son, Trent, but their home was always open to other children. They had a student stay with them for the last part of the school year after her parents moved. They opened their home to foreign exchange students and to foster children.
Karen was active in the United Methodist Church. She served on several committees, was Sunday School Superintendent, taught Sunday School and Bible School While a teenager, Karen was involved in Methodist Youth Fellowship, was a member of the MYF District Youth Council, taught Bible School, was a camp counselor at Camp Comeca, and was a junior leader in Girl Scouts.
Karen and Dick sponsored Fellowship of Christian Athletes for more than twenty years at Grant High School where they watched several young people grow in their Christian faith. Karen was a good help mate for Dick's sport teams. She even scrubbed football helmets. Karen jokingly said that she had spent more time in a boys' locker room than she wanted to. Karen rubbed sore legs of track members and provided lots of encouragement. She kept the scorebook and did the statistics for Dick's basketball and volleyball teams. Karen enjoyed sewing, needlework, reading, playing with her granddaughters, and attending basketball games.
Karen felt that we all are to encourage others. She held drawings of several people's hands as she prayed for them during her daily devotional time. Others who battled cancer held a special place in Karen's heart. She said that whenever someone lost a battle with cancer, she felt like a little piece of her died, too.
Karen entered into rest on September 15, 2015. She was 73 years old.
Preceding Karen in death were her parents Floyd and Lavona Nelson, sister Gloria Lawson, and grandson Christian Anthony Thurin.
Holding special memories of Karen in their hearts are her husband Dick, her son Trent and granddaughters Zoe and Abigail of Missouri Valley, Iowa, one niece Christy (Marty)
Gueggleman of Colby, Kansas, nephews Ray (Pam) Lawson and John (Shannon) Lawson of Hampton, Nebraska, great nieces and great nephews, great-great nieces and great-great nephews and friends.
A memorial has been established in Karen's memory. Condolences may be shared at bullocklongfuneralhome.com, where the service will be streamed live for those unable to attend.
Services will be held on Friday, September 18, 2015 at 1:30 PM at the Grant United Methodist Church with Pastor Nora Mendyk officiating. Burial will be in the Grant Fairview Cemetery. Visitation will be on Thursday, from 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the Bullock-Long Funeral Home in Grant.
Bullock-Long Funeral Home of Grant is in charge of arrangements.