Karen Beth (Karkkainen) Hawke, 67, went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Sunday, January 2, 2022 following a cancer diagnosis and brief illness.
Born to the late Carlo and Kathryn (Puuri) Karkkainen in Ishpeming, Michigan, Karen was the third of six children. Karen spent her entire youth in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan and reveled in a childhood filled with Finnish traditions and time with her loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many special cousins. A brilliant student with special aptitude for numbers, Karen graduated Hancock High School in 1972 and went on to earn a B.S. in Mathematics from Michigan Technological University in 1976. Michigan Tech was also where she met the love of her life, Mel, and the two were married in 1977.
Though her heart never left the Upper Peninsula, life with Mel and their three children took her to various other places around the country, including Lower Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and, finally, North Carolina. A lifelong Lutheran, Karen’s church community in each location always meant so much to her and kept her grounded and steadfast in her faith.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Karen’s joy in life came from her family. She was a proud homemaker and she oriented her world around her husband and children, Michelle, Becky, and Danny (Daniel). She also loved catching up with her extended family whenever visits and phone calls would allow. Those left to honor her memory include her devoted husband of 44 years, Mel; her three children, Michelle (Genci) Hyskaj of Spring Lake, MI, Becky Hawke (James Nuernberg) of Matthews, NC, and Daniel Hawke of Charlotte, NC; four grandchildren, Tyler, Conner, Stacey, and Genevieve; and great-grandson, Oliver. Karen was also blessed with a large extended family, including brothers Alan (Jeanne), Brad (Ann Mongoven), Mark, and Scott Karkkainen and sister, Cheryl (Jack) Voisine; eight nieces and nephews; and dozens of first cousins, including many who remained very special to her for her entire life. Though saddened by her loss, Karen’s family is comforted in knowing she has entered into the kingdom of Heaven to be reunited with her parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, whom she missed so dearly. She also never wavered in her Finnish sisu, and we are relieved to know she is no longer suffering or in pain.
Karen will be cared for by Gaskin Funeral Services of Matthews, NC, as well as Memorial Chapel & Plowe Funeral Service in Hancock, MI. A funeral service and burial for Karen will be scheduled for the spring in Hancock, Michigan. Once confirmed, plans will be shared with family and published through Memorial Chapel, Zion Lutheran Church, and The Daily Mining Gazette.
In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made in her honor to your local food bank.