Obituary of Karen Kenneally
Karen Louise Kenneally, 63, of Reston, VA, passed away peacefully on September 19 surrounded by her loving family. She is survived by her husband, Peter D. Raymond, and their three beautiful children—Aislynn K. Raymond, Thomas W. Raymond, and Benjamin D. Raymond.
Karen lived a beautiful, loving, and adventurous life. Those who knew her, even in brief passing, recognized in her a light that gave their lives significance and inspiration. She had a way of engaging with others that recognized and valued them and brought peace, comfort, and joy. Born in Tonawanda, NY on March 11, 1955 to Edmund Kenneally (an engineer) and Claire Kaiser Kenneally (an artist), Karen grew up combining the best of her parents’ attributes. She was passionate for the adventure of new places, joyous in learning, and in awe of the wilds of nature even at an early age. She loved school for the insights, new vistas, and close friendships it brought. So it was not surprising that she became a cheerleader in high school and college (fostering an energy and enthusiasm she would use to support family and friends throughout her life) and that she majored in outdoor education at SUNY Cortland and later earned a Masters in Education at Russell Sage College in Albany, NY.
Karen met her future husband, Peter Raymond, in 1980 when they were both living in Schenectady, NY. Together they would embark on a lifetime devoted to contributing to the world. The adventure began in the early 1980s when they traveled the world for nearly three years on a shoe-string budget, and later lived and worked in Poland, Hungary, Thailand, and China—in addition to the US. One of Karen’s favorite places was Nepal, which she visited multiple times. Karen loved traveling close to the people, staying in simple accommodations, integrating with the community, learning local languages, cultures and religions. She developed a deep appreciation of the different peoples of the world, how landscape and history shape culture, and of the commonality at the heart of all religious traditions.
Karen and Peter were married on September 22, 1985, and her greatest joy was her family. She was a devoted wife to Peter, packing up family and home to move to far flung parts of the world and to create a happy, nurturing, and adventurous environment for all. She also had a profound effect on Peter’s colleagues with her warm heart, quick wit, and worldly insight. Karen was a loving mother, encouraging and empowering her children to become their own individuals and to develop their own unique talents and gifts to the world. When Aislynn chose medicine as her career path, Karen plunged in to learn and discuss with her whatever Aislynn was studying or later practicing. When Tom chose higher education consulting, she made sure to follow the trends and critical issues in the field, all the while encouraging Tom’s love of creative writing, being his most enthusiastic (and sometimes, critical) reviewer. Ben’s love of sports was close to Karen’s cheer-leading heart, and the two of them exchanged frequent insights and opinions from football to lacrosse. She was especially proud of Ben’s business sense and self-reliance as he landed a job in the insurance industry.
Karen was also a dedicated teacher, first at Murch Elementary School in Washington, DC and later at Hunter Woods Preschool in Reston, VA. She enjoyed bringing her creativity and artistry to lessons. While living overseas, much of Karen’s life revolved around her children’s schools. Karen served as president of the swim team for the International School in Bangkok, was an active PTA member and mentored many students and parents in the international community.
Karen believed that how we live and who we are is our impact on the world. She cared deeply about others, maintaining strong friendships over decades and continents. She will be remembered as a soulmate, mother, friend, inspiration; as someone with boundless empathy, a love of learning, and a sense of adventure in life. And that is how she lived. True to form, she passed from this life with grace, dignity and joy; surrounded by people whom she loved deeply and who loved her equally.
A Celebration of Karen’s Life will be held Saturday, October 13, at 2 p.m. at United Christian Parish in Reston.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Karen’s honor to Earth Sangha (http://www.earthsangha.org/) or the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (https://www.bcrf.org/).