Karen Ann Wright Zimmerman, age 76, of Menomonie, Wisconsin, passed away unexpectedly, Sunday, January 6, 2019, at her home. She was born on January 31, 1942, in Central City, Iowa, to Tracy and Marie (McCann) Wright. Karen grew up in this community and graduated from Central City High School. While she was in 4H, she met a young woman from Iowa State University who inspired her to go on to college. Karen did her undergraduate work and then continued on to earn her PhD in Home Economics from Iowa State University.
Karen went on to become a professor at UW Stout, where she was the Early Childhood Education Undergraduate Program Director, the ECE Graduate Program Director, and also the Department Chair for Human Development and Family Studies. During her long tenure at Stout, Karen worked alongside her colleagues, helping to create a program that became nationally respected. She was invited to present both locally and nationally at professional conferences. She managed Head Start Grants, collaborated with Jordan educators to develop trainings for teachers and was a co-investigator for a national child care study. She published a textbook with Goodheart Wilcox, and co-authored articles in publications such as Early Childhood News, Young Children, PACE, Journal of Life Long Learning, Texas Child Care Quarterly, and Journal of Home Economics. Karen’s academic success, knowledge, and work ethic is widely respected, and she was also named a Dahlgren Professor of Education.
Karen enjoyed reading, travelling with friends and family, quilting, and baking. Her life experiences of being the eldest daughter of a hard-working farming family, travelling for her academic career, and working with students from varied backgrounds, gave her a wise and unique perspective on relationships. She was interested in learning about the people around her and was always open to widening her circle. Her ability to continuously give people the benefit of the doubt allowed her to have relationships with many different people, from international graduate students to local mothers and their children experiencing economic difficulties. Karen used the hobbies that she enjoyed to bless her community. She was always making quilts to be donated, baking for her church, Christ Lutheran, and volunteering for other activities. She brought her continued love of teaching to young children again while recently participating in an after-school program at church every Wednesday. Karen was always humble and probably unaware of all of the lives she has impacted. Her children and their families, as well as all of the students and other Karen has mentored and shared her life with over the years are all blessed to have known her.
Karen is survived by her daughter, Kathryn (Steve) Richter of Maple Grove, Minnesota, her son, Robert (Tosha) Larson of Menomonie. She is also survived by her grandchildren Joshua Richter, Lilia Zimmerman, Ellie Zimmerman, and Sadie Richter, her sisters Jean Maricle, Janell Shaffer, and Vanessa Beauregard their families, and other relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband Gerald and her parents, Tracy and Marie.
Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 AM Saturday, January 12, 2019, at Christ Lutheran Church in Menomonie with Pastor Randy Skow-Anderson officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church.
Memorials may be sent to The Bridge to Hope or the Menomonie Public Library Foundation.
Olson Funeral Home in Menomonie is serving the family.
To share a memory, please visit obituaries at www.olsonfuneral.com