Karyn Sue Brand Purvis
1949 - 2016
Greenwood Funeral Homes-Greenwood Chapel
3100 White Settlement Rd.
Fort Worth, TX
Karyn Sue Brand Purvis, 66, an internationally-renowned child development expert, popular speaker, author and passionate advocate for vulnerable children, died Tuesday, April 12, 2016, after a valiant fight with cancer. Memorial service: A public memorial will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 23, at University Baptist Church near TCU. A reception will follow at the Kelly Center on the TCU campus. Memorials: Though Karyn loved flowers, she loved children infinitely more. In lieu of flowers, please consider becoming a CASA volunteer or making a gift in memory of Dr. Karyn Purvis to the TCU Institute of Child Development. Dr. Purvis was the Rees-Jones director and co-founder of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, the creator of Trust-Based Relational Intervention, co-author of a best-selling book in the adoption genre, and a passionate and effective advocate for children. She coined the term "children from hard places" to describe the children she loved and served, and those who have suffered trauma, abuse, neglect or other adverse conditions early in life. Her research-based philosophy for healing harmed children centered on earning trust and building deep emotional connections to anchor and empower them. Among academics, she was a respected researcher, demonstrating how a child's behavior, neurochemistry and life trajectory can change given the right environment. Among parents, she was an authoritative speaker and writer and trainer. Many adoptive parents, who marveled at her innate ability to playfully connect and see the real heart of a child, revered her as a "child whisperer." To the thousands of children whose lives she touched, she was warmly known as "Miss Karyn, the queen of bubble gum!" A mother, grandmother, foster parent, pastor's wife and developmental psychologist, Dr. Purvis devoted her life to serving children. In the last decade, she and her team at the TCU Institute of Child Development taught and inspired tens of thousands of parents, professionals, foreign dignitaries, political leaders, orphanage and adoption workers, lawmakers, judges, and child advocates around the world about the need for trauma-informed care and trust-based interventions for vulnerable children. "If I could tell you my dream for every child in the world, it would be to imagine a world where the cry of every child is met by 11 compassionate adults," she once told an interviewer. "Giving voice to children is the heart and soul of what we do." It was a calling that came early in her life. Born in Atlanta, Ga., on May 31, 1949, Karyn was the second of four children of Othal and Kay Brand. Her parents met and married in Quantico, Va., after serving time in the Marine Corps during World War II. In 1954 the family moved to McAllen where her father became one of the world's largest onion growers and a longtime mayor of McAllen. A self-described "daddy's girl," Karyn recalled accompanying her father into the slums of McAllen, where he distributed food and worked to improve living conditions for migrant workers. She watched her mother offer aid to the sick and elderly in her neighborhood and church. As a child, she took in stray and wounded animals. As a teenager, she mentored at-risk children at school and trained horses. By age 20, she married Burton Purvis, a graduating senior she met at Howard Payne University, a small southern Baptist college in Brownwood. She quit school after her sophomore year to move with her husband, a new minister, to Daytona Beach, Fla., where the couple started a ministry for street kids. She spent the next 30 years of her life raising her own sons and ministering alongside her husband as the embodiment of the ideal pastor's wife, trusted and loved. Besides rescuing stray and injured animals, she loved to create beautiful crafts and calligraphy of Scripture. At age 47, as her sons began college, Karyn returned to school to complete her undergraduate degree. In 1999, she and her mentor and advisor Dr. Cross offered a summer camp for adopted children as a research project toward her doctorate in child development. Parents reported such dramatic improvements with their children, they clamored for more help. That camp became The Hope Connection, and after more research and more camps, Karyn added Ph.D. to her title as a psychologist - at the age of 53. Just a few years later, in 2005, TCU formally created the Institute of Child Development to house and to advance the work of Dr. Purvis and Dr. Cross. Over the course of the next decade, they teamed up to write their acclaimed book, "The Connected Child," and to create a holistic, comprehensive, research-based approach to healing vulnerable children called Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI). In just over a decade under Dr. Purvis' leadership, the message and teachings of the Institute have increased exponentially to reach an audience spanning the U.S. and more than 25 other countries around the world. Her passion and novel, research-proven insight led to interviews and news coverage in Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, KERA Radio, Dateline NBC, Focus on the Family, Parents Magazine, Fort Worth Weekly and countless other media outlets, blogs and webinars. In 2008, then-Governor Rick Perry appointed her to chair a statewide committee tasked with raising standards for children in foster care. The National Council on Adoption honored Dr. Purvis with the title of Distinguished Fellow in Adoption and Child Development. She has received the James Hammerstein Award, the T. Berry Brazelton Award for Infant Mental Health Advocacy, a Health Care Hero award from the Dallas Business Journal and numerous other awards and honors for her work on behalf of children. What mattered most to Dr. Purvis, however, was not the accolades, but seeing real change and healing in the lives of children and their families. She was driven to make a difference. And this work became her life purpose. She believed passionately and fervently in the power of hope, knowledge and prayer. "I had strength from my faith and I had the confidence that serving children was my calling," she told an interviewer. "If I have planted, and farmed the soil well, those who come after me, and after them and after them, will be wiser and more well-equipped and more able to continue our mission, which is not rhetoric for our Institute," Dr. Purvis said. "We truly are learning to change the world for children." Survivors: Three sons, Dwayne Purvis and wife, Katie, and their children, Bethany, Natalie, Matthew and David, of Fort Worth, Lou Purvis and wife, Jill, and their children, Jackson and Ella of Flower Mound, and Jeremy Purvis and his wife, Jessica, and their sons, William, Grant and Benjamin of Highland Village; older sister, Marjorie Lynn Ferrell of Tyler; younger brother, Othal Brand Jr. of McAllen; and younger sister, Cynthia Brand of Plano.
Published by Star-Telegram on Apr. 15, 2016.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
Memorial service
University Baptist Church
Funeral services provided by:
Greenwood Funeral Homes-Greenwood Chapel
Sponsored by the Star-Telegram.
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64 Entries
No bond is as great as that between a parent and child. My deepest condolences are with you as you grieve.
January 30, 2020
I miss you every day, I can always feel your sweet soul watching over me. I am forever grateful to have had you as my grandmother. You changed my life and you are my biggest inspiration. You are the best role model in the world and I try every day to live up to your standards. Your body is gone but your impact on this world will be remembered forever. RIP
May 10, 2019
April 11, 2017
My wife and I first heard of Dr. Purvis as foster parents for troubled children here in Oklahoma City. Our local instructor, Rev. James Hunt, started our training group from scratch. He was so taken by Dr. Purvis training which he had earlier taken, he named our local group "Karis" as a way to honor Karyn Purvis. It was while watching her training tapes that I fell in love the wisdom and love for children Dr. Purvis continually demonstrated. She is still a treasure to this day.
Ron Boto
April 3, 2017
I had the pleasure of visiting with Dr. Purvis at the Christian alliance for orphan conference in Chicago, I was so honored to be able to talk to someone so passionate about the " least of these". I would loved to be one of her protégés. I pray that I may someday serve the orphan the way Karyn did.
March 31, 2017
Heard Karyn's voice and encouragement for troubled children and their parents on a local Christian radio station in Dallas. Such an inspiration as I listened to her advice and encouragement.........oh how I wish I had heard or known of her when I struggled with my daughter. I will purchase her book, The Connected Child, to learn more and seek CASA to support the needs in our community. I share her passion for children....our future. So glad to see her picture and read more about her life and accomplishments.
Deborah Beck
March 17, 2017
I only just ran across her obituary and realized today that Karyn Purvis has died, and I broke into tears at my desk at work. I realized for the first time that the fervor with which I taught the principles of TBRI to my clients was kindled by the subconscious awareness that I was a child from a hard place, and I wanted the world to change for children and parents, and I could see that she was changing it. I hope that others will pick up the torch and continue to run with the incredible wisdom and knowledge that God gave this woman. I am sorry I will never meet her in person, but I met her in spirit.
August 23, 2016
Amazing woman. What a blessing to so many. She will be missed.
July 23, 2016
I had the pleasure of going to one of Karyn's TBRI trainings and it was such a growing experience for me. Thank you Karyn for sharing your beautiful heart. The Lord must have welcomed you with open arms and said, "Job well done". You are an inspiration to us all. We will miss you on earth. I am glad you are not in pain anymore. Thank you.
-Kristal R. Hansen, LMSW
July 5, 2016
Karyn was a miracle to many. I heard her speak and know her sons and family must be so proud of her legacy. We have her books from which we will still learn. Thank you God for blessing us with this Angel.
charline suttle
May 13, 2016
Karyn was a true Angel to many. We have her books from which we can keep learning. I know her boys must be so proud of their Mother. I've head her speak and know we were blessed to have her on this earth.
May 13, 2016
Karyn is now with the angels. She blew wind under my wings, so I could better do my life's work with adopted children. Her legacy lives on in the smiles of healing children everywhere. You were a gift and continue to be through the reach of your research and teaching. Your love matters still.
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
April 30, 2016
Our thoughts and prayers are with Karyn's family and friends. We remember Karyn from many, many years ago. So sorry for your loss.

Sandy Zager, Houston; T.G. Zager, McAllen; Jackie (Zager) McKnight, Houston
April 28, 2016
When I started studying TBRI, I had been a therapist for 25 years and an orphan worker for 15. I was amazed at how universal TBRI actually is. Not only did it give me amazing tools to help the orphans and orphan workers I serve, it was the most personally healing experience I have ever had in my life. My autographed "brain" she gave me at a TBRI training is a treasure I will keep the rest of my life.

Thank you Karyn for everything you gave us. We miss you already.
April 28, 2016
Our prayers are with the family and friends of Dr. Karyn. She touched innumerable lives and left a lasting legacy for the children of the world. A special thank you from my two children (of eight) who came from "a hard place" as her work will continue to help us connect and bond with them more and more as they grow. We are so sorry for her loss, but so very grateful for her life. God bless you.
April 27, 2016
Jodi Branstad
April 25, 2016
Dr. Karyn Purvis was the most Christ-like individual I never met. From my perspective, as someone who was a foster child and an adoptee, through her writings and videos, my heart connected to hers. "She gets it," I thought. She understood "children from hard places." Karyn had the Jesus touch! So, because of her work, I like many, want to make my work about connecting the hearts of adoptive parents to their children, and connect the heart of the children to their mother and father.
David Barnett
April 24, 2016
As one who was blessed to hear Karyn speak and attend the TBRI professional training, it broke my heart to hear of her passing. My heartfelt sympathy goes to her family and colleagues. Only in heaven will we truly see how much her service here on earth affected so many. Her death saddened very many and she will be missed.
April 23, 2016
As a TCU graduate and a founder of OrphansLink, I am thankful for an hour of face to face spent with Karyn 2 years ago when me and my friend Annette came to meet with Karyn and brainstorm how to take her teachings to Russia and Ukraine. God took care of it and he appointed people to take the teaching in many countries. I just wish I learned about her kids camp sooner as we've gone through some hard times with my first born. Karyn left behind so many resources and set in motion something bigger than we can comprehend and changing the lives for generations! What a true life of Legacy! A true light to the World! She is a genius of its kind and someone who touched so many lives and will be truly missed! Condolences to her family! She will be missed greatly but through her inheritance she left behind she will be making a difference for eternity!Oksana Gipp
Oksana Gipp
April 22, 2016
I had the privilege of growing up with Karyn in the Rio Grande Valley. She shared a cabin with me at Camp La Jita and we lived only one block away from one another in McAllen. She was indeed a lovely person, inside and out! My condolences to her beautiful family.
Cindy Wooldridge Davenport
April 22, 2016
Karyn Purvis had the most gentle spirit I have ever seen in my life! My heart and prayers go out to her family. She was a true angel and she is home now.
April 22, 2016
My deepest condolences to Miss Karyn's family.
I feel as if I've known Miss Karyn personally. We "met" years ago via a training tape for foster parents. She has lifted my heart with her twinkling eyes, ready smile and her clarity as she shared her extensive knowledge and experience. Thank you for changing my life and the life of my family forever.
Mary Anne
April 20, 2016
A Champion for Christ and a Champion for Children. You will be missed sister, but we will see you again.
Curtis Artis
April 19, 2016
I had the pleasure of watching video of Dr. Karyn Purvis and listening to her colleagues speak of her work on April 8, 2016. It was announced then that her health prohibited her from attending in person. As a professional and previous foster parent with 20 years of experience, her work has moved me like no other. One morning after the conference, I had a bird nest by my front door and with love an admiration, I thought of Dr. Purvis and her own story of the bird nest. Her words remained with me all day, and I learned that afternoon of her passing. I'm sure she has a special place in heaven, just as she has created such a special place here on earth. God bless the many family members, friends and lives she has touched.
Stacey Winter
April 19, 2016
I heard Dr Purvis 2 years ago at Bethany Christians adoption summit. She changed how I parent my 2 girls from hard places. Just this week I found myself saying "How would Karyn do this?".... What a legacy! Well done good and faithful servant! You have changed countless lives for the better. God bless her family!
Lynne Hartman
April 17, 2016
Dr. Purvis came to Romania to help our family with two new adopted kids. Because of that experience our whole lives changed. The foundation that we run there for orphan children changed dramatically as well. Because of her, we now have helped heal hundreds of children and are now multiplying out the TBRI model all over Romania. She was the "Mr. Rogers" of traumatized children. She will never be forgotten and the eternal fruit from her labor of love will continue to multiply.

Our condolences to her family, children, and grandchildren. Thank you SO much for sharing her with us. We recognize your sacrifice in making the healing of multitudes of wounded children possible. Our prayers are with you.
Bruce Thomas
April 16, 2016
I can't thank you enough Ms Karen for filling the world with more educated, compassionate, therapeutic parents! We and our children would be so very lost with out your gentle, wise, irreplaceable guidance. Your presence will be felt greatly but I am so thankful for how you chose to spend your one precious life. Thank you doesn't seem like a big enough word. I am so glad I had the honor to meet you and learn from you.
Gina Johnson
April 16, 2016
Karyn was a special lady who could make everyone feel welcomed and loved. As her college roommate at Howard Payne, I saw her live I Corinthians 13. She taught me lessons about love, giving, fun, spontaneity, and the joy of living that I will never forget. I am thankful for the time we had together and look forward to seeing her again in heaven.
Nancy Holdampf
April 16, 2016
We are so very sorry.
James and Jane Ellen Humphrey
April 16, 2016
Thank you for all you did in the lives of vulnerable children in this country. -Elena from Georgia
Elena Taylor
April 16, 2016
We were introduced to Karyn Purvis when we were in the process of adopting our daughter from Thailand. She was 12 when she came home and Dr. Purvis' teachings on loving and bonding with children from hard places became a great help for us very quickly. My husband had the privilege of sitting in on one of her seminars at CAFO last year and was blown away by her humility and wisdom. We were so sad to hear of her passing. The world has lost an angel and she will be sorely missed. However, she is leaving behind an amazing legacy for all of the families that have been touched by her passion for children!
Christie Darago
April 16, 2016
Dr Karyn was such an inspiring woman. What a life well lived. Her compassion for children from hard places and her willingness to dig deep, to offer God's best helped to change the world.

What we learned from her books, listening to her speak and her trainings impacted not only how we minister in Zimbabwe, but how we live as a family. However it was the way she encouraged us that our hearts will remember most. Every conversation or email left us better.

To her family we send our prayers and love. Thank you for sharing her with the world. You will be in our thoughts often. Her legacy will live on in the families she impacted for sure, but most of all in each of you. You were her biggest joy.

The Chari family. Harare, Zimbabwe
Regina Chari
April 16, 2016
Thank you for changing our lives Dr. Purvis. You will always be in our hearts.
Claudia Antelo
April 16, 2016
To the family and friends of Karyn Purvis:

Karyn was always a loving mentor to me while she and her family ministered in Baytown. Her kind, gentle spirit will never be forgotten.

Dian Rosier
Dian Rosier
April 16, 2016
I only found out about Dr. Karyn Purvis about a year ago. I never met her, but I could feel her ability to connect when watching her videos. Sadly, she is gone. But her work keeps a ice of her with us. We can still study and learn.
Melinda Brown
April 15, 2016
What an inspiring and wonderful person! Wish I had an opportunity to know her. Looking forward to reading her book.
Angie Blackwell
April 15, 2016
The Beloved Dr. Purvis was an inspiration to so many. I first came to know her through her book and then again through the Empowered to Connect Conferences. I feel so blessed to have learned from her more directly in a TBRI parent training. The Lord used Miss Karyn to set our family on a path of healing and, to His glory, our children will live as a testimony to her teaching. Miss Karyn exuded the love of Christ in every word she spoke. She will be missed, but I am so very thankful for the legacy she left behind.
Tereasa Mansfield
April 15, 2016
Well done, good and faithful servant. If only one child and family found hope and healing through your tireless, passionate work, it would have been worth it all. Yet not one child and family, but thousands! This family thanks you, and can't wait to hear your voice tell our sweet one "you are loved, and you are precious" someday.
Alaina Wilson
April 15, 2016
Dr. Purvis taught my husband and me so much about parenting our daughter, honestly I don't know where we would be if we hadn't read her book and gone to see her speak. She was the personification of light and love and grace and peace and the world misses her already. I don't have loving extended family, but I feel like I'm mourning her like I would a loving aunt. She impacted me more than I can say and I'm forever grateful to the Lord for calling her to this work.
Jen Wells
April 15, 2016
Thank you for creating a better way to parent a child!
Steve Livingston
April 15, 2016
I too grew up in McAllen and the Brand family was familiar to everyone. My heart goes out to my classmate, Marjorie Lynn Ferrell, and all Karyn's family. What a wonderful lady graced the lives of children.

Jean Wenger King
April 15, 2016
The National Foster Parent Association sends our love and condolence to the family and many friends of Dr. Purvis. Dr. Purvis touched many foster parents, adoptive parents and kinship caregivers as they sought her unique and effective methods to help them reach their children on a new level of trust. The results of these interactions live on through each of these children. We mourn her loss but celebrate her life and legacy.
Irene Clements
April 15, 2016
Thank you for how you gave our family hope. We will always hold you in a special place in our hearts.
David M
April 15, 2016
Dr. Purvis,
Your passion, love, and healing has touched children all over the globe - even children who have never met you. I know this because my time spent learning from you has shaped me into the Therapist that I am today, and I am going to continue to shine your light to the children from tough places - and I am not the only one. You are missed, but your spirit lives on.
Katrina Will Colwick
April 15, 2016
Thank you, Karyn for putting into words what hurting children need from us as parents and caregivers. What a beautiful legacy you leave! My condolences to family and friends.
Melissa Kinast
April 15, 2016
So thankful for Dr Purvis and her wonderful work. Her passing makes me sad but what am amazing legacy she has left. D
Dawn V
April 15, 2016
Love this lady! Heard her speak several times and changed how we parent for the better. Our lives are better because of Dr. Karyn Purvis. We have both biological and adopted children. Best of both worlds we say. We have used her parenting in both. I am a school teacher and use her work when I teach. I pray her work could be in the schools someday. All kids need connection!! Jennifer Edmond Ok
Jennifer Dishman
April 15, 2016
The little I have known about this phenomenal woman will never be forgotten may her legacy be strong and continues for many generations
Venasta Thomas
April 15, 2016
I will be forever grateful for getting the chance to sit under Dr. Purvis' teaching! It changed my life, the way I parent and gave us the vision for the Papillion Center. Our Center is based on TBRI principles. She will truly be missed!
Chris Troutt
April 15, 2016
Dr. Purvis has my utmost respect for all she has contributed to the well-being of children. Everyone she has touched now and who will be touched by her teachings in the future are most blessed to have had her exist in the world. I have heard the question asked before whether you think your existence will be remembered forty, fifty or more years from now. I believe that as long as children in need exist in the world, Dr. Purvis and her teachings will be one of those who will stand the test of time. Thank you for gracing us with us your presence, knowledge and love Dr. Purvis. You have made the world a better place.
Kathy Jones
April 15, 2016
I'm new to Karyn Purvis' work and in the process of adopting my first child. The videos of her show so clearly the love and passion that she had for children from hard places. The world has certainly lost a great person. My thoughts are with her family and friends.
Alicia D
April 15, 2016
Dr. Purvis has changed the lives of children in the state of Texas for generations to come. I feel honored to have met and studied under her. Last year she assisted me as I was headed to Austin to meet her for the first time and had a major car accident. She had not even met him yet!! My thoughts and prayers to her biological and TCU family. RegardsDr Vivian Dorsett, PhD
Dr Vivian Dorsett,PhD
April 15, 2016
A world changer. A lover of people. A great example. Jesus with skin on. She is already missed, but I am thankful for the blessing she has been in my life. My condolences to her family and friends!!
April 15, 2016
There is no one that has been gifted in loving, caring for and understanding children from hard places like Karyn has!! She has been a gift from God to countless thousands of children and their families. She was a pioneer in her field and her legacy will live on forever. She will be sadly missed by all who knew her and whose lives were impacted by her passion for hurting children.
Barbara Wilkinson
April 15, 2016
There are few people on earth I respect as much as Dr. Purvis. Her life and work touched me in many profound ways and I hope by God's grave to be able to pass on some of that blessing to others. Thank you Jesus for Karyn!
April 15, 2016
Karyn, you are a life changer.. your spirit, strength, and hope for resilience in all was a gift to all who knew you. You leave a legacy of the gift of hope. You will be missed!! Amy Lynch, OT
Amy Lynch
April 15, 2016
Your legacy is eternal. Can't wait to hug you in heaven!
April 15, 2016
Thank you, Dr. Purvis for changing our lives! We will forever be indebted to you.
Johnson Family
April 15, 2016
My condolences to Dr Purvis's friends and family. Her work has provided hope and healing to so many of us in the foster and adoption communities. I'm sure God called her home early because He didn't want to go another day without her preciousness up there with Him. May you be comforted knowing the incredible difference she made on this world.
Charlene Hertzberg
April 15, 2016
Whenever I text the word "precious" spell check brings up "Purvis"!; a beautiful reminder of the precious woman whose
passionate, healing work with children informs every part of my own work with children in foster care and their birth parents.
Karyn's face beamed with the promise that our deepest hopes could become reality through real connection and support.
My husband and I were able to experience the weeklong training under Karyn and her amazing colleagues. We felt hope and joy course through our veins as we became empowered to serve children who suffer relational wounds. Karyn's insights and real life stories filled our spirits with a second wind. We grieve with and for her family and closest friends for the impossible sorrow you are bearing, and give thanks for the countless lives who have been changed forever because Karyn walked with her Jesus among us, making all things new! Robyn and Bob Hubbard
Robyn Hubbard
April 15, 2016
I am sorry to hear of Karyn's death. What a lovely, vital woman! Someone I wish I had known better. My condolences to her family.
Pat Jambor
April 15, 2016
Karyn was the beloved wife of our pastor at Cityview Baptist Church, leading the women into many craft efforts, such as caligraphy and "stiffy" bows. She gave me two beautifully framed caligraphy scriptures I treasure at a very difficult time in our lives. My husband and I loved Karyn and her family. Thankfully she was a Christian to the core and is safe with our Lord now. You will be missed Karyn Purvis. And may that Same Lord comfort your sons and their families with the peace that passes understanding. In Him, Joan and Noel McCormick.
joan McCormick
April 15, 2016
billie gray
April 15, 2016
Sending my love and prayers to Dr. Purvis's family and friends. I'm the parent of a child suffering from major depressive disorder and PTSD. We are currently at the peak of our struggle for healing. It's through Dr. Purvis's work I have hope that my child has a safe and bright future. Rest peacefully beautiful soul.
Lyndy Stevens
April 15, 2016
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