Okolona - Karen Selestak passed away at Baptist Medical Center, Monday, June 24, 2019. A proud Aries, Karen was born on April 6, 1954, in Okolona, MS, to Mary Katherine "Kassie" Reid and Stephen "Smokey" Selestak. She attended Okolona High School.While "Krun" lived life to the fullest, her true passion was her social work. She held a BS degree from MS State University and a MS in Social Work from University of Southern MS, where she began her career with the Dept of Human Services. She was employed at the MS State Hospital from 1980-1998 in the roles of Continued Treatment Social Worker, Clinical Program Director, and Director of Jacquith Nursing Home. Karen was a Licensed Certified Social Worker.
On Santa Rosa Beachin Florida, Nov. 22, 2000, Karen married the greatest love of her life, Glen Russell Thomas. For the next 19 years, they traveled and explored some of the most beautiful places in the world, including a recent trip to Aruba, where she was perfectly at home with the flamingo habitat. Glen and Karen were able to turn a simple house on a little lake in Cleary, Mississippi into a true paradise that welcomed family and friends in a way that will never be forgotten.Karen was an avid gardener and loved tending to her army ofgnomes. Karen's flamingo collection is one for the ages. She even had an "attack flamingo" guarding the yard at all times.
She was active in National Association of Social Work - MS Chapter - from 1992 to 2019 serving in many capacities including President. From 2006-2019 she served in the roles of Continuing Education Coordinator and Annual Conference Coordinator. She received the 1998 Social Worker of the Year and was honored with the 1st Annual Karen Selestak Excellence in Chapter Service award in 2019.
She served as Certified Public Manager for the MS State Personnel Board. She was a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers, National Association of Social Workers, MS Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Council, Rankin County Chamber of Commerce Elder Services, Women In Network. She participated in the Rankin Leadership Program and was a graduate of the State Executive Development Institute, John C Stennis Institute of Government at MSU. Karen continually advocated for social work licensing, mental health, and geriatric services at the MS Legislature. She is appreciated as a dedicated mentor and influential leader in her field.
She loved to dance, laugh, and encourage those close to her. Karen didn't just have a great personality. Karen was a great personality. She will be remembered fondly as being unique, caring, loving her dogs, flamingos, and all things the color purple.
Karen is survived by her husband, Glen R. Thomas of Florence, stepson,Alton R. Thomas, stepdaughter, Catherine Thomas, grandson, Santiago Thomas, and Santiago's mother Cristal, all of Dallas, TX, sister-in-law, Linda Fielder and husband Harvey Fielder of Clinton, nieces/nephews,soul sisters Janice Cain, Dena Doss, Frances Borromeo, Jane Allen Thompson, Mary Jane Barnett, and special children, Beth McArthur (Johnathan) and Clay Cain (Jennifer), Madelyn and Cain McArthur.
She was preceded in death by her parents, brother-in-law Kenny Thomas, and Buddy Bear, her beloved German Shephard.
There will be a private celebration of life. Memorials to the MS Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association
would be appreciated. 207 W Jackson St. #1, Ridgeland, MS 39157 (769)230-0611
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Published by Clarion Ledger on Jun. 28, 2019.