Just after sunset on August 20, 2023 Karen Ann Wirch left this world as gracefully as she lived in it. Karen was born to Jesse (Mouw) and Gerrit Kamphuis, April 17,1940. Karen grew up in Alto, married Robert W. Johnston and raised a family. She enjoyed working as a bookkeeper for both Jeff’s Trucking and the family farm and also excelled at her favorite job; that of nurturing her family as a mom and homemaker. Karen took special delight in helping organize and volunteer at the Alto Fair breakfasts. She spent the first 53 years of her life active in the Alto Reformed Church community. After she married James A. Wirch, April 11, 1993, she moved to Omro where she attended the Presbyterian Church of Winneconne.
Karen embodied generosity, delight and a deep passion to care for others. It is commonly agreed that if Karen were having a dinner party for eight, she cooked for twelve. There was always room at her table. She adored family and relished the gift of enlarging her clan through her marriage to Jim. These added familial ties enriched her life with new perspectives, hearty laughter and friendship.
The times Karen spent with her grandchildren brought her the greatest joy. She was an “all-in” Grandmother (“Nana”), volunteering for all parts “grandparent” and “back-up parent” alike. She literally went extra miles to be a part of her grandkids’ lives. She curated trips to adventure parks, their winter home in Arizona, Texas fishing trips with Gramps as well Nana camps in the RV or on the Fox River at their home in Omro. She was a force of nature navigating ferry, train and plane schedules to get her and her grandkids together, who felt a passport to Nana’s was priceless.
Karen was a creative soul who could sew, tailor, mend, paint, wallpaper, plant, grow, harvest, preserve and cook up a storm. In retirement, she took her sewing machine practically everywhere, creating silk, beaded scarves and selling them at art fairs and on consignment in stores ranging from Door County to Holland, MI.
Karen was genuine and curious. She was interested in the lives of others. Epic RV adventures had her making new friends and hosting packer parties wherever she found herself. In short, it has been said that the world felt a little softer and spun with a little more sparkle with Karen and her magic in it.
She lived out the creed, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” She had a faith in God that was grounding, evident and inspiring.
Karen’s vibrant style was manifested in her gardens, choice of clothing, and the rings that she sometimes wore on every finger. But most of all, to those lucky enough to know her, she walked the earth brimming with simple kindness, sweetness and moxie that both rocked, and soothed, our worlds. She leaves her mark on the hearts of family and friends and will never be forgotten.
Karen is survived by her husband, James A. Wirch of Omro, WI; daughters Kristin Johnston of Spring Lake, MI, and Karla (Benjamin) Johnston-Krase of Durham, NC; grandchildren Cadan (Jessica), Liam, Sophia Johnston Kleinheksel and Sylvia, Meheret, and Ezgihaye Johnston-Krase; nieces and nephews Nathan (Mary) Johnston, Jenny Johnston, Amy Johnston; special cousin and friend, Leanne Huizingza. Karen married Jim in 1993 and was so delighted to grow and welcome Jim's family. She is also survived by brother-in-law Jack (Mary) Wirch of Winneconne, WI; sister’s-in-law, Marie Wirch, and Anna Mae Wirch; children Mark (Holly Drawenek) Wirch of Oshkosh, WI, Rick (Alexandria Roe) Wirch of Madison, WI, and Dawn Wirch (Scott) Campbell of Chandler, AZ; grandchildren Brian (Laura) Wirch, Aaron, William and Anna Drawenek, Robert, Bethany (Nate) Michael, and Christina (David) Morris; great grandchildren Spencer and Jocelynn; nieces and nephews Emily (Sean) Cannon, Sam (Sarah Kelly) Wirch, Mike Wirch, Cindy Wirch Koehler, Andrew Wirch and Steven Wirch.
Memorial Service will take place on October 7 at Werner-Harmsen Funeral Home in Waupun, WI. Family members will be available for greeting starting at 3:00pm with a memorial service to begin at 4:00pm.
In lieu of flowers and to honor Karen and support families with Alzhiemers, memorial gifts can be made through the Alzheimer's Association through http://act.alz.org/goto/KarenWirchMemorial