Karen M. Haines, 85, passed away on November 29, 2021 at Aspirus Hospice House, after a brief illness. She was born on October 1, 1936 in Rice Lake, Wisconsin to the late John and Vivian (Kirkeby) Haines. A graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, she went on to receive her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota.
She taught music in Ladysmith, Wisconsin and was the director of music at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Wausau before accepting the choral director’s position at DC Everest, which she held for 45 years, retiring in 2008. Her influence on choral music was felt state-wide, and in recognition of her achievements, in 2011 she received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Choral Director’s Association. Another monumental honor was when her “Songspinners” female vocal group was selected to perform with other choirs at Carnegie Hall. At one time, three of her ex-students were choral directors at D.C. Everest, Mosinee, and Wausau East.
Her contributions to the Wausau Conservatory of Music began in 1978, when she was one of the four women who fostered the idea of establishing a music school, which opened its doors in 1981, and she had been involved ever since, supporting it both financially and with direct involvement musically. For many years, she also was the musical director for many high school and community theater productions.
Karen loved to travel, attending conventions and conferences across the nation. On several occasions she chaperoned and directed choral groups that travelled to Europe. During one of those trips, she was even allowed to play the organ at Notre Dame in Paris when a group toured it. It was her experience of a lifetime, she fondly recalled. IN addition to these trips, she also took several personal trips to Europe.
An active member of the First Presbyterian Church, she served as an Elder, consistently helped with the food pantry, funeral dinners, community suppers, and played the piano for special occasions. Of course, her passion was music, and her influence will continue. As she said, her greatest reward was “fostering the love of music in her students.” Not only did they love music, but they also loved her.
Karen is survived by a Cousin Brenda (Kirkeby) Gard, Burnsville, MN and several other cousins, close friends, colleagues, and countless ex-students.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to First Presbyterian Church or a charity of your choice.
Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church, 406 Grant Street, Wausau. The Rev. Joy Nelson-Jeffers will officiate. Visitation will be held from 10:00 am until the time of service at the church on Tuesday. Burial will take place at 11:00 am on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at Nora Cemetery, Rice Lake. Brainard Funeral Home is assisting the family.
A sincere “Thank You” is extended to the many Aspirus Care Givers who provided Karen compassionate care during her journey.