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In Memory of Karen M. Rivers


June 17, 1942 - July 7, 2022

Karen Mary Rivers passed away peacefully on Thursday evening, July 7th, 2022.

Karen Mary Rivers (Clark) was born on June 17th, 1942 at the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Her grade school years were spent in Cadott, followed by middle school which was split between Bruce and Augusta. Karen’s father passed away in 1958, and she moved to Cornell with her mother and two younger sisters, Sally and Toni. Karen graduated from Cornell High School in 1960. After graduation, Karen’s higher education journey began at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, majoring in music.

Karen married her high school sweetheart, George Henry Rivers III, on August 29th, 1962 in Cornell, Wisconsin. She spent the next few years working hard to help put George through school. He attended the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point for his BA, then Iowa State University for his Masters. The couple returned to Wisconsin where George took a job at the Green Bay Reformatory and Karen was employed at Campbell’s Department store.

In 1969, they adopted a baby boy, George Henry Rivers IV. Karen suggested that they should also give their baby a nickname and chose the name “Toby,” a name she had always adored. When Toby was two years old, they began the adoption process again praying for a second baby. Sadly, Papa George passed away quite suddenly at age 30 and plans changed.

Determined to provide for her son, Karen began the long road to complete her college education, hopefully, leading to a better life for the two of them. Full time mom during the day and student by night, Karen completed the prerequisite curriculum. In 1975, she bought a house in Altoona, Wisconsin to be closer to her family and the University. By 1978, Karen earned her BA from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. The years of being a mom and a student had changed her focus. She realized that working with children was her passion, so she started her graduate studies. In 1983, she completed her thesis and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stout with a Master’s of Science in Education and School Psychology.

In the fall of that year, Karen accepted a combined position between the Webster and Siren School Districts as the School Psychologist. She bought “a little house in the woods” in Siren Township for Toby and herself. Karen spent two days each week in Siren and three days a week in Webster. By 1986, she was full time at the Webster School District and stayed in that position until she “fully” retired in 2010. Karen’s career as a school psychologist spanned 28 years; a defender of youth and a voice for the overlooked.

Karen was a woman of great faith and song and devoted her time and talents to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Webster. She held many posts within the church including 30 years as their choir director. She loved the fellowship, Christmas caroling and her “Secret Sisters.” The Lord was her rock and she expressed it through her music. She was a gifted singer and used her vocal talents at many weddings and funerals. Her favorite pastime was reading, and she always had a book (sometimes two) in her hands.

With retirement came yet another milestone. She had secretly prayed for many years to become a grandmother. She was twice-blessed! In 2011, her grandson George arrived and in 2013, grand-daughter Charley was born. At 70 years old she felt that being called Grandma wasn’t appropriate for a lady so young and insisted that she be referred to as Nana. Try as they might, her grandchildren just couldn’t manage to say “Nana” - it always came out as “Nina.” Well, that of course stuck and she has been Nina ever since. Nina spent as much time as she could with her grandchildren and family – not missing a single holiday, birthday, anniversary or family wedding. There were also many fun-filled vacations, including a trip last fall to every park at Disney World with her adoring grandchildren. We love you, Nina, and miss you greatly… ‘Til we see you again!

Karen was preceded in death by her father, Joseph Malin Clark; mother, Mildred Clark (Svoma); husband, George Henry Rivers III; brother-in-law, Rev. Ronald M. Pfluger; and double- cousin, Gustave F. Clark.

Karen leaves behind her son, George “Toby” Henry Rivers IV; daughter in law, Kathryn Jean Rivers (Pozarski); grandson, George Henry Rivers V (10 yrs); and granddaughter, Charlotte “Charley” Claire Rivers (8yrs). Sister, Sally Pfluger; sister, Toni (Jim) Christenson; nieces and nephew, Amy (Tanner McKenna) Christenson; Stephanie (Josh Douglas) Christenson; Kimberly Christenson; Hanni (Chris) Griffin; Jaret (Julia) Pfluger; her beloved double-cousins; John (Jan) Clark, Mary Olsen, Nancy Scobie & Tom (Mary Ann) Clark.

A visitation to celebrate Karen’s life will be held on Sunday, July 17th from 3:00-6:00pm at the Swedberg-Taylor Funeral Home in Webster, Wisconsin. Funeral Services will be held by Pastor Jim Bender at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church at 11:00am on Monday, July 18th (visitation from 10-11) with a lunch reception will follow.

Online condolences may be submitted and viewed on the Swedberg-Taylor Funeral Home website at: www.swedberg-taylor.com , along with more detailed service information.

In lieu of flowers, you may send memorials directly to one of the following charities in Karen’s Name:

Burnett County - Historical Society

  • 8500 County Road U
  • Danbury, WI 54830

St Jude’s Hospital

  • 501 St. Jude Place
  • Memphis, TN 38105
  • (Make check payable to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital or go online to www.stjude.org)

Arbor Day Foundation (Online) www.arborday.org

Last Update: Jul 13, 2022 11:50 am CDT

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