SOUTH CHARLESTON, Ohio — Karen Marie (Ipsen) Berkhofer, 75, died on Friday, March 7, 2014, surrounded by family at her home in South Charleston, Ohio. She was born November 10, 1938, in Denver, eldest child of the late Ben and Josephine (Phelan) Ipsen. She married her husband of 44 years, George Henry Berkhofer IV, on February 15, 1969, in Springfield, Ohio, and he preceded her in death Dec. 7, 2013.
She is survived by her three devoted children: Elizabeth (Greg) Altman of Springfield, Ohio; Julia (Ben) Sutherly of Troy, Ohio; and George (Samantha) Berkhofer V of Springfield, Ohio; three grandchildren: Ella Josephine Berkhofer, Joseph Henry Sutherly, and Daniel Lincoln Sutherly; sister, Marilyn (Ipsen) Walters of Aurora, Colo.; brothers Dennis (Carolyn) Ipsen of Aurora, Colo.; Stephen (Michelle Rainbolt) Ipsen of Littleton, Colo.; and Brian (Cynthia) Ipsen of Aurora, Colo.; brother-in-law Thomas Jordan of Gainesville, Fla.; three nieces; and two nephews.
She also was preceded in death Dec. 28, 2013, by a sister, Janet (Ipsen) Jordan.
Raised in Denver, Karen in 1956 joined the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, earning her undergraduate degree in education at the College of Mount St. Joseph. For a time, she taught at St. Joseph's Elementary School in Springfield, and returned to Clark County in 1968 after leaving the convent.
Karen served Clark and Champaign counties over the next 38 years as a beloved educator, primarily at Miami View Elementary School in her adopted hometown of South Charleston from 1970 to 1997. During that time, she earned her master's of education administration at the University of Dayton, later serving as principal at St. Mary School in Urbana from 1997 to 2003. She then returned to Miami View before retiring in 2006. But she continued to tutor students through her business, "Chalk 'N' Keys."
Devoted to her Catholic faith her entire life, she served as organist at St. Charles Borromeo Church in South Charleston for 43 years and St. Patrick Church in London for three years. She gave piano lessons to hundreds of students in South Charleston and at Wittenberg University's School of Community Education.
Often told that she was a favorite teacher, Karen worked tirelessly to engage all of her students, but she excelled at reaching out to the at-risk and disregarded. From an early age, when she "taught" her younger siblings, she never considered another vocation. Her resilience, kindness, and good humor endeared her to all who knew her.
She was a member of the Lagonda Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Springfield and South Charleston dulcimer clubs, the South Charleston Heritage Commission, the Catholic Ladies of Columbia, and the South Charleston Monday Night Club.
Visitation will be from 5 pm to 7 pm on Friday, March 14 at Ingling Williams & Lewis Funeral Home – South Charleston. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 am on Saturday, March 15, at St. Charles Catholic Church, South Charleston followed by burial at St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery.
Condolences may be expressed at www.jacksonlytle.com.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the "Karen Berkhofer Fund" at Heifer International by calling 855-948-6437 or visiting www.heifer.org.