|Honored by:||Kay Kirkman|
|Brick location:||E:28 map|
Karen was born and lived most of her life in Wichita, Kansas. She married her high school sweetheart, Bob Umscheid, in 1959 and they have four children: Vincent, Julie, Marcia, and Brenda. They have nine grandchildren and a great-granddaughter as of 2012.
Karen worked outside the home for jewelry stores and Beech Aircraft before returning to college. She earned her B.S. from Wichita State University and went to work for KSNW television shortly thereafter. Her volunteer work with Wichita’s Community Theater had prepared her well for her duties as Community Service Director with the station. In this role, she was responsible for everything from entertaining visiting celebrities, creating community public announcements, to running the annual Treasure Island activity at RiverFest, which she did for ten years. Karen was known in the community as the person to turn to when you had a seemingly impossible task: build a parade float, locate blue ribbons for an anti-drug campaign, shoot video of zoo animals and set it to music, or find a working dunk tank. She closed her working career with a two-year stint as head of the Wichita branch of the Head Injury Association, raising money and awareness of the problems associated with this common trauma (long before our current focus on football head injuries.)
She has helped care for our mother, her father- and mother-in-law, and numerous other relatives over the years. She has been the caregiver caught between the needs of her children and those of her elders, and understands the difficulty faced by women in this role.
As my sister, she has been a friend, confidant, and supporter. She has looked after my children, stayed with me in the hospital, gone along on road trips, helped me financially, and lifted my spirits when I was down. Karen is almost always “up,” with a great smile and laugh when faced with life’s problems. She is the epitome of the modern woman dealing with the daunting challenges of motherhood, career, and family needs, and as such is a true Heroine.
Submitted on 5/22/97, updated 12/9/2013