01/26/1946 - 08/14/2015 Obituary
On August 14, 2015, Karen Delores Harness died in Bakersfield of melanoma, a type of skin cancer. She was the only daughter of the late Leon and Marjorie (Kraft) Harness of Pond and Delano, CA; and the oldest grandchild of the late Henry and Frances Kraft also of Delano, CA. Karen is survived by her two brothers, Richard (and Judy) Harness of Bristol, VA; and Mike (and Paula) Harness of Chino Hills, CA; a nephew, Justin Harness of North Salt Lake, UT; a niece, Carrie (and Travis) Porter and their daughter, Brinna Porter, Karen's great niece, of Hebron, KY; her partner, James "Jeff" Thompson, and many special cousins and friends.
Karen attended elementary school at Pond, CA and graduated from Delano High School in 1964. She attended the University of California, Berkeley graduating in 1969 with a B.A. in History. In the 1970's, Karen held a variety of jobs in financial firms in San Francisco, CA and in Grass Valley, CA. In 1980, Karen opened "The Grey Goose," a handmade quilt and bedding store in Nevada City, CA that is still in business today. Moving to Fresno later in the 1980's, Karen worked for CH2M Hill and then a winery in Visalia, earning an M.B.A. from Fresno State during this time.
Returning to Delano in the 1990's, Karen began teaching in the Delano Union Elementary School District, initially at Cecil Avenue School and later at Valle Vista School. During her 17 years as a teacher, Karen taught history, social studies, English and reading. For several years, Karen was a resource teacher for the Delano Union Elementary District for reading and language. She earned another Master's Degree in Education focusing on reading skills. Karen retired in 2011 after several years of teaching history at La Vina School. Through most of this time, Karen cared for her parents, Leon and Marjorie Harness, until their deaths in 2007 and 2008. Before and after their deaths, Karen actively worked to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Foundation.
Teaching was Karen's greatest passion along with reading and vocal music. Prior to her death Karen established a scholarship at U. C. Berkeley for students from the Delano/McFarland area who are the first in their families to attend college and need financial assistance. Karen was the first in her immediate family to go to college and she needed financial assistance, so this scholarship was vitally important to Karen. She asked for donations to it in her memory.
Karen sang in choirs and vocal groups starting in elementary school and throughout her life. At U. C. Berkeley, she sang for Igor Stravinsky at the opening of Cal's new music hall. In the early 2000's, Karen joined the "South Valley Sound," a women's barbershop chorus and she was the baritone in "Sound Solutions," with several fellow musicians from "South Valley Sound." They were active in giving concerts for civic groups, the elderly, veterans and patriotic functions.
The website for donations to Karen's scholarship to U. C. Berkeley is:
Published in Bakersfield Californian on Aug. 29, 2015
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