Karen Veronica passed away in the early morning hours of January 25, 2021 at her home in Mount Gilead, Ohio with her youngest daughter and oldest grandson Shea present. She had the soul of a gypsy, fire of a lioness, heart of a hippie, and mouth of a sailor.
KV was born November 18, 1944 in Cleveland, Ohio. Karen was preceded in death by her oldest daughter, Hope Anne Manley; her parents, Laverne and William Phillips; former husband, David F. Berry and his partner, Robert E. Hober; and her beloved friend, Father John Guiliani.
Better known as Nana, she is survived by her daughter, Andrea (Rod) Benson; five grandchildren, Lila Manley and Shea, Reston, Reza and Stacia Benson who were the lights of her life; sister, Connie (Richard) Tressel; brother, Scott William Phillips; numerous nieces and nephews; and her devoted and beloved friends who provided unconditional beauty and friendship individually and collectively which nourished her soul.
Karen moved with her family to Berea, Ohio early in her life. She graduated from Berea High School where she played the flute and was an accomplished competitive synchronized swimmer. She went on to DePauw University and circled the globe on the University of the Seven Seas as a student and, later, as an advisor.
A wise, courageous, and compassionate woman. Karen Veronica was faithful forever to her Baptismal name, Veronica, which her dear friend and mentor, Father John, baptized her one Easter. KV lived her faith out as a Grange domestic missionary to those brilliant, creative, industrious souls who were also disenfranchised, ostracized, sick, and wounded in spirit.
Inspired by her children's father's struggle and death from AIDS at the dawn of the crisis, she helped found and manage an AIDS hospice to care for the stricken. As Executive Director, her drive and will to succeed animated a creative, heart-centered, and highly successful not-for -profit, Bread and Roses, where over 200 men and women lived and died before the advent of life-saving drugs. Bread, which symbolized nourishment, and Roses, which stood for beauty. At a time when those suffering from AIDS were also stigmatized and shunned, B&R offered a welcoming embrace in addition to comfort and care from a plague. Before the Bread & Roses years, she raised two daughters, Hope and Andrea, and worked as a school counselor and teacher of human sexuality. She earned her master's degree from New York University.
Nana, you arrived at the vast sea of welcoming souls, especially your beloved daughter Hope and Father John. In gratitude for your many gifts, your love and friendship, and your family, all your families.
KV's family will receive friends on Friday, January 29 from 3-5 p.m. at Wise Funeral Service, 129 W. Warren St., Bucyrus, Ohio. They can also gather at her graveside for her funeral on Saturday, January 30 at 11:30 a.m. in Crown Hill Cemetery, 8592 Darrow Rd., Twinsburg, Ohio.
KV had a desire to take her grandchildren on one last vacation to Cape Cod this summer. Her family would like to fulfill this wish and donors can help by making donations payable to Andrea Benson and send to Wise Funeral Service, 129 W. Warren St., Bucyrus, Ohio 44820. Memories and photos are encouraged to be shared on Karen's tribute page at www.wisefuneral.com