Our minds still talk to you, our hearts still look for you, but our souls know you are at peace. With profound sadness we announce the passing of Karen (Stevenson) Szymanski, 84, of Alpena, MI, devoted mother, wife, grandmother, and friend to all lives she touched; left us peacefully in her sleep on Thursday, October 26, 2023, surrounded by her loving husband David of fifty years, and son Kevin.
Karen was born March 22, 1939, in Alpena, daughter of the late Myrl J. and Genevieve (Portwine) Stevenson. She graduated from Alpena High School in 1956 and was a lifelong resident of the area, living at the farm on Lakeview Acres. Karen met her husband David R. Szymanski in Roger City, MI, her smile catching his eye, they married on October 6, 1973, in Hazel Park, MI, and recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Karen worked as a dedicated attendance secretary at Alpena High School for over 40 years. Karen loved to listen to music and hear her brother John play his guitar, sing, and dance when he visited, from Tennessee. Her favorite songs were Long Black Veil and Leaving on a Jet Plane. This brought back fond memories of her brother Sam and when they were all children growing up on the farm. Karen was a firecracker, quick witted, and had a genuine smile that would light up the entire room with her presence, to know her was to love her. Karen developed many beautiful friendships throughout the years. She loved having coffee, shopping, going to lunch, or a fine glass of wine, and socializing. She met cherished friends Reggie Vought and Tammy Smith while working at the school together. After retirement, Tammy Smith opened a boutique, Cucina in Alpena; Karen with her stylish flair, and love for shopping went to work for Tammy. This is where she met her dear friend Ashley (Frantz) Paulsell, they shared stories of their families throughout the years, and the same love for Golden Doodles.
Karen loved nature, the sunsets on Long Lake, and to watch the birds fly. Years ago, she heard the story of the cardinal coming down as a letter from heaven and would often think it was a message from a loved one stopping by for a visit. During her final days the cardinal stopped by for one last visit.
Karen’s canine companion was dear to her. She was blessed with a golden doodle, Lexie, for many years. Lexie would cuddle on the couch watching TV, go for car rides, run on the farm, swim in the lake, and travel with Karen and Dave for many years, and now walks beside Karen in Heaven.
Most of all she loved her family and instilled in her sons’ strong values that served them well. Both men of good character, kindness, compassion, and caring love for their families. James, her eldest, a firefighter in Ponca City, died in 2002. Jim was struck and killed by a pickup truck while on one of his frequent bicycle trips. Kevin, her youngest, at her bedside during her final days.
Karen was an exceptional lady. She will be sadly missed by all that knew her and forever in our hearts.
She is survived by her loving husband of 50 years, David K. Szymanski, son, Kevin (Sharon) Socia, stepson David Szymanski, brother, grandchildren, Ashley (AJ) Socia, Haley Socia, Megan Socia, Sarah (Socia) Mora, Cailyn Branback, eleven great-grandchildren; and a brother, John (Nancy) Stevenson.
The family would like to extend its gratitude to Hospice of Michigan and Ashley (Frantz) Paulsell for your compassion, care, and kindness in her final days and your support to our family.
Karen was preceded in death by her son, James Socia, stepdaughter, Suni Speaks; and brother, Sam Stevenson.
Visitation will take place Friday, November 3, 2023, at St. Paul Lutheran Church – Alpena from 9:30 a.m. until the funeral service at 11 a.m. with Rev. John Shipman officiating. Arrangements have been handled by the Bannan Funeral Home.
Interment: Evergreen Cemetery
Memorials: Hospice of Michigan or Huron Humane Society