KAREN MARIE (THOMPSON) MEDHI Karen Marie (Thompson) Medhi, 54, passed away on November 18, 2014 at Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute of St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. A service of celebration of Karen's life was held at All Souls Unitarian Universalists Church in Kansas City on November 22, 2014. Karen was the second child born to Howard and Judith (Gram) Thompson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Before she was two years old, the family moved to Madison, Wisconsin. Karen attended Falk School, Orchard Ridge Middle School, and James Madison Memorial High School, where she graduated at the top of her class, was co- editor of the student newspaper, and played violin in the Memorial and the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras. Karen graduated majoring in mathematics from St. Olaf College, earned a masters' degree in mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering (Operations Research) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987. It was during her Ph.D. program, in a mathematical optimization class, that she met husband, Deepankar (Deep) Medhi, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science. They were married on August 15, 1987 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Madison. Shortly thereafter Karen and Deep moved to Holmdel, NJ where both were employed by AT&T Bell Labs. When Deep took a position at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1989, Karen continued with AT&T, but was a telecommuter from Kansas City till 1996. A key contribution during her time at AT&T was to show the economic advantage of long- haul optical networks by creating mathematical models. She led algorithm design efforts and oversaw system development of mathematical software that was used in production environment for many years; this tool served as the primary source for guiding operational engineers in network equipment orders. From 1996 to 1999, she was a principal engineer at Sprint PCS, one of her key works being the development of mathematical wireless call traffic models with reporting features to assess future equipment needs in metro markets. During 2000-2001, she worked for a startup, VPI Systems, building mathematical models, algorithms, and prototype software to aid network planners in establishing cost- effective optical networks. Thereafter, she chose to be a stay- at-home mother to her two boys, Neiloy and Robby. During this time Karen was active in the community serving as a religious education teacher, chair of the Long Range Planning Committee, member of the Board of Trustees and as president of the congregation at All Souls Church. She was mentor for students under Juvenile Justice Authority. She also tutored students at Shawnee Mission East High School and low-income working mothers. Karen re-entered the workforce in 2007 when she found an opportunity to be a mathematics teacher at Kansas City Academy. This change in career allowed her to dedicate herself to her passion for mathematics, by impacting and improving the lives of many students, through her teaching. Her teaching philosophy was a result of her personal experience: "I believe it is important for a teacher to be enthusiastic and share the passion of their content area. For some students enthusiasm can be contagious. I remember clearly as a high school student, despite the fact that I was advanced in mathematics, I could not admit (even to myself) that I liked math. It was only after attending St. Olaf College that I gave myself permission to love mathematics. I clearly remember taking the Real Analysis course from a professor who had recently joined the faculty. This faculty member exuded enthusiasm and I caught the bug!" She was selected the teacher of the year in 2011 by the senior class, in the first year of this award. Her peer-review papers appeared in Mathematical Programming, Journal of Optimization Theory & Applications, and AT&T Technical Journal. She was a full member of the Institute of Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS). She was a voracious reader on a wide variety of subjects and shared her enthusiasm for what she read by making reading recommendations to her relatives and friends. Despite her significant personal, academic, and professional accomplishments, Karen remained truly humble, more focused on others than herself. Karen is survived by her mother and father, Judith and Howard Thompson, of Madison, WI; her husband, Deep Medhi, and two sons, Neiloy M. Medhi and Robby S. Medhi, of Overland Park, KS; her brothers, James (Virginia) Thompson of San Diego, CA and John (Karen) Thompson of Minocqua, WI and two sisters, Linda Schultz of Madison, WI and Ann Thompson of Cottage Grove, WI. She is also survived by 11 nieces and nephews, Peter (Morgan) Schultz of Wake Forrest, NC; Chelsea Thompson of Washington, DC; Daniel Thompson and Allison Thompson of San Diego, CA; Natalie, Anna, and Sarah Thompson of Minocqua, WI, and Maddy, Jada, Paxton, and Tucker Braun of Cottage Grove, WI. She is survived by her mother-in-law and father-in-law, Prity and Jyotiprasad Medhi of Guwahati, India; her brother-in-law, Shubhankar (Yashodhara) Medhi of Guwahati, India; her two sisters-in- law, Shakuntala (Niren) Choudhury of Bridgewater, NJ and Alakanandaa (Sasanka) Deka of Duliajan, India. On her in-laws side, she is also survived by 5 nieces and nephews, Namrata (Sachin) Jain of New York City, NY; Abhishek Choudhury of Bridgewater, NJ; Riddhiman Medhi of Guwahati, India, and Pooja Deka and Seemankar Deka of Duliajan, India. Memorials to Karen may be made to the Karen Medhi Memorial Fund at Kansas City Academy, 7933 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64114 or online at http://www.kansascityacademy.org
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Published by Kansas City Star on Nov. 30, 2014.