February 9, 1944 – April 27, 2020
It is with great sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of Karen Chorley Hopper (nee Gardiner). Karen had an unforgettable smile, endless love, limitless generosity, enduring loyalty, a font of knowledge, and a courageous, feisty spirit that continuously overcame all of life’s challenges. Her memory will live on in the hearts of all who knew her.
Karen was born in Beaumont, Texas, to Llewellyn and Betty Gardiner. She spent her formative years in Calgary, Portland, and Victoria. Graduating at 16, Karen began studying science at Victoria College, working extensively in hospitals and labs in Canada and the USA. She completed her BSc in Biology at UVic in 1968, one of only a few women to graduate in science at that time.
She married Ron in 1969 and, after many transfers around BC, they returned with son Keith to Nanaimo to enjoy the Island, raise their family and join the family business. Two more children followed, Mark (deceased) and Deborah.
Karen enjoyed teaching and learning as was evident in her vast volunteer work. Working with Nanaimo’s Canadian Federation of University Women’s Seashore Unit (coordinated with the Pacific Biological Station), she spent many hours on local beaches, in labs, and in grade 3 classrooms teaching children about seashore life.
A passionate historian, Karen took a great interest in local and family history which came together in her work with Nanaimo’s Queen Victoria persona (Barbara Desprez). From the project’s conception, she spent many hours researching, designing and creating an authentic costume, complete with jewelry and accessories. She developed an education program for local elementary schools to teach children about the connection between the city, its history, and the annual May 24th celebration. From schools and societies, to parades, and the Empress Hotel, for over two decades Karen, Barbara and dedicated volunteers brought history to life for the community.
Karen was a fixture downtown. She loved promoting Nanaimo’s downtown and its “family” feel. From the Bathtub Society to the Nanaimo City Centre Association to the Friends of HMCS NANAIMO, Karen loved supporting her community and participating in events – assisting with Heritage Days, Silly Boat and the Easter Promenade to name a few.
Karen adored her family and leaves her husband of over 50 years, Ron, her children Keith (Chantelle) and Deborah, her siblings Peter, Jo, Ann (Mac) and Edward (Michelle), her mother-in-law Shirley, and numerous beloved cousins, nieces and nephews.
St. Paul’s Anglican Church hosted a private family service. A celebration of life will be held after travel restrictions are lifted.
Please, no flowers. In lieu, donations may be made to For The Love of (Great) Danes Rescue Society BC/AB (c/o Keith & Chantelle; KarensDanes@hotmail.com) or to VIU Foundation’s Karen Chorley Hopper Memorial Fund (900 – 5th St. Nan) supporting women in sciences.
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