‘When I die, it will be inaccurate to say of me (as is often said in obituaries) that “after a long and courageous struggle with cancer, she lost her fight and died on …..” I do not consider my illness to have been a battle I waged nor do I regard my life as having been a battleground. When I die, it will not be because I lost a battle with cancer, any more than because I lost a battle with life. What I see now is that the glorious, tragic, mundane and seemingly inexplicable days of our lives are all a part of the great and grand and mysterious experience of incarnation. For all of it, I am grateful.’ – Karen Dee Benson
Karen Dee Benson, 67, a passionate and beloved wife, sister, stepmother, grandmother, friend, book lover and attorney died peacefully on Thursday, November 29, 2018.
For most of Karen’s 40-year legal career she ran her own law practice, because, as she told a friend, working for other people didn’t suit her. The law was a thing of beauty to her: a powerful way of bringing justice and order to people’s messy legal lives. She donated thousands of hours of pro-bono legal work. She took part in the Colorado Supreme Court’s pro-bono program for many years, and was honored as the 2015 Pro-Bono Attorney of the Year for the 17th judicial district.
Karen was born November 30, 1950, to Dee and Helen Benson, in Worland, a small farming town in northern Wyoming. She grew up there with her older sister Claudia and her younger brother Landis. When she graduated from Worland Senior High School in 1969, she enrolled at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. She earned a bachelor of science degree in 1973 and moved to Denver, where she was accepted the following year at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. She supported herself through law school, working full-time days and attending classes at night. She was admitted to the Colorado bar in 1978.
She married Charlie Frank, also an attorney, in 1987, and made his daughters Kimberly and Ashley a central part of her life. Over the years she and her husband never gave a second thought to helping scores of relatives and friends. They always opened their doors to anyone who might need support. Karen loved to bake and always had a home baked treat to offer her guests along with a compassionate ear.
In 2006 the court in the 17th judicial district chose Karen to be the Public Administrator for that district, which includes Adams and Broomfield counties. She relished the job of public administrator, protecting the vulnerable from the unscrupulous, helping people who could not help themselves, bringing order to chaotic lives, and expediting and assisting end of life transitions. She retired as Public Administrator and also closed her private legal practice in 2016.
Karen is survived by her husband, Charlie Frank; her daughters Ashley Frank and Kimberly Eggers and son-in-law Kevin; grandchildren Avery Eggers and Emma Eggers; her brother Landis Benson and sister-in-law Janet; her brother-in-law’s Fred Frank and Jim Schutter, her sister-in-law’s Mary Anderson and Kathleen Frank; her niece Christine Jefferies and husband Jeff and great nephew Brett; her niece Karen N. Benson and husband Tate McFarlane and great nephew Liam; her niece Julie Lucas and her husband Matthew and great niece Anuhea; her nephew Jacob Benson and his wife Mary.
Karen was predeceased by her father and mother and her sister Claudia.
Karen truly set an example of the best way to live. She loved her family, rejoiced in her friends, and seized all of the opportunities and adventures that came her way. She didn’t have it in her to ignore a cry for help. To honor her, we can all try to live your life the way she did.
Toward the end of her life, Karen took the time to write and express her feelings on what she thought of her life, what she hoped she had learned from others, and what, with varying success, she had tried to accomplish in her life. Included below are a few of the lessons Karen has left us.
o Early on, and throughout your life, find and cherish your best companions. Some may be members of your family, but more likely many of them will be your friends. They will hold you up, as you hold them up, through times of greatness and magnificence, as well as through times of hopelessness and helplessness. You and your best companions will reveal each other’s best selves. Stay close to them, love them, and encourage them.
o Be curious. It’s a lot of fun. Be open to new ideas, especially those that at first give you pause. Stay awake.
o When you hear or see or find something funny, laugh. Laugh alone, laugh out loud, laugh with others. If you have at least one timeless good joke to tell, you can dine out on it for years.
o Trust yourself to make good decisions. If trusting yourself is hard to do at first, start slowly and take one step at a time.
o Be gentle with those who make mistakes. Don’t pile on when someone is down.
o Apologize freely. Own your mistakes. Hard as it was for me to learn to do this, I found it became easier over time.
o Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Encourage fairness.
o Listen as closely as you are able when someone is speaking. Listening is a gift of your time to the speaker.
o Love as much as you are able to love . . . people, animals, places, ideas. Your heart will grow larger. Love, love, love. Love God. Love your family. Love your fellow humans.
o Forgive. Again and again.
o Be interested in others – their thoughts, their lives, their hearts. Strive to be as interested in others as you are in yourself. This, too, gets easier with practice.
o Contribute to the betterment of the world in all the ways that you can when you can. Recognize that sometimes you will have the energy to make great contributions and sometimes you won’t. All contributions matter.
o Be grateful. Be kind.
o If you’re a person who feels things deeply, you needn’t feel ashamed just because others either can’t or don’t feel the same way. You were made that way.
o Death is the ultimate healing. Suffering, pain, weakness no longer hold us in bondage and soul soars into arms of love everlasting.
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