Karen Audrey Gajek

Obituary of Karen Audrey Gajek

Karen Audrey Gajek

1940 - 2021

It is with profound sadness that the family of Karen Gajek announces her passing in hospice in Red Deer, Alberta on March 15, 2021.

Born in October 1940 in Edmonton, Alberta, Karen grew up in Lethbridge and later graduated high school from St. Mary’s Girls School in Calgary. She had a keen interest in dentistry and following college pursued a dual career as a dental assistant and fashion model. Karen held numerous modeling contracts with The Bay and Eaton’s and worked as a dental assistant in Calgary and later Yellowknife. Her work in the fashion industry would lead to fashion consulting and key leadership positions with Merle Norman, Shiseido, and Lancombe cosmetic companies.

Karen met and married Dick Gajek in 1965. Karen had an adventurous spirit and embraced the opportunities and excitement of travelling. Following the birth of their three children, she joined her husband overseas in the oil industry. Karen often travelled alone with her three children and set up homes in Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand. Later, she would move the family to Egypt, where they lived in the beautiful village of Maadi, outside Cairo. Karen enjoyed horseback riding through the desert with her family and foraging through the markets for interesting foods. She moved the family to Greece, and finally to Madras (now Chennai), India.

Karen made many lifelong friendships over the years of travelling. In later years Karen and Dick would join some of those friends in New Zealand and there they set up a winter home. Karen and her family finally moved back to Calgary and then on to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Karen volunteered at the Stanton Yellowknife Hospital and offered support to Inuit women with high-risk pregnancies who had travelled from the high Arctic to deliver. Karen founded a joint safe delivery program with the government of the Northwest Territories and coordinated housing for Inuit women needing to travel prior to delivery their babies. Karen was known to invite Inuit women needing additional support into the family home, forging lifelong friendships.

Karen was passionate about opera and musical theatre. She eagerly pursued opportunities with operatic, choral groups and musical theatres. She joined the well-known choral group The Sweet Adelines, and worked in musical theatre overseas. Karen was cast along with her son Todd in the New Zealand National Musical Theatre production of Dick Whittington and His Cat, and later The Sound of Music. She was an accomplished soprano and delighted family and friends with her voice at family events and celebrations.

Karen spent her summers with her family at the cabin on Sylvan Lake. She was an avid golfer and enjoyed the women’s golf league. Karen and Dick were well known at the Sylvan Lake Country Club as they hosted the annual golf tournaments and many other golf events.

Karen was a good alpine skier. She travelled with her family on weekends and holidays to Kimberly, B.C., where they had a hillside condo. She delighted in skiing with not only her immediate family, but her brother Bobby and his family who lived in Kimberly. These were fun and active years for all!

Karen was an avid chef throughout her life. She had a deep passion and knowledge about international cuisine and provided beautiful and heartfelt meals for family and friends.

Karen was an accomplished gardener. Throughout her life she created beautiful flower and shrub gardens. She thoroughly enjoyed time in the dirt creating landscapes and potted greens; she especially loved Marigolds and was known to sleep with rose petals under her pillow from time to time.

Karen was beautiful inside and out. She radiated joy with an infectious smile, and her vivacious spirit and joie de vivre will forever be cherished by all who knew her. Karen touched many with her kindness and generosity. She is deeply missed.

Karen was predeceased by her husband, Richard (Dick) Gajek, parents Audrey and Eric Dolighan, and brother Robert Dolighan. She is survived by her sister, Judy Gorkoff (Tom) and sister-in-law Bev Dolighan (Robert). Karen will be much missed by her children Todd Gajek, Trinda Gajek, and Troy Gajek. “Grandy” was adored by her grandchildren Kendall and Jacob (Todd), Teighan and Rylan Gajek- Leonard (Trinda) and Courtney and Taylor Gajek (Troy). Karen was the beloved aunt, great aunt, cousin and close friend to many.

A private memorial will be held in the fall, Karen’s favourite season.

In lieu of flowers, Karen would have asked that you donate and/or volunteer at the cancer agency or SPCA in your area.

Please visit the Memorial Board to share your memories, condolences, pictures and videos as a tribute to this wonderful spirit: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/Dg1Vjnwz.

Condolences for Karen's family may also be emailed to meaningful@telus.net.

Arrangements in care of

Meaningful Memorials Funeral Service

A locally owned cremation and funeral provider

serving Red Deer and all of Central Alberta


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