Karen Norman, of Springfield VA, passed on October 29, 2021. She was a beloved mother, much-adored grandmother, selfless matriarch and perpetual provider. Guided always by flawless integrity and dedication to duty, Karen will be remembered for her fortitude, sharp mind, quick wit and generous heart.
Karen was born on September 11, 1937 to Kathryn McAneny Norman and Bernerd Norman in Euclid, Ohio. She graduated top of her class from Ursuline Academy of the Sacred Heart. A beautiful, confident and highly-intelligent young woman, Karen began her career in the Cleveland area, working for Kaiser Aluminum and General Motors and serving as an elected member of the Cuyahoga Community College Board of Directors.
Karen became a military wife in 1962, and soon thereafter became the mother of three. The family lived abroad in Italy and Germany before settling in Alexandria, Virginia in 1970. Karen then became a single mother and set out to provide for her family, to include younger sister, Mary, and elderly mother, Kathryn. She became a top-producing real estate agent (1973-1980), before transitioning to government employment as chief stenographer with the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. In 1989, Karen was hired by the United States Senate and subsequently by the House of Representative’s Office of the Clerk and Official Reporters. She served on the floor of the House and in many committees, including intelligence committees requiring top-secret security clearances. Karen had impeccable language and editing skills, and her mind was an encyclopedia of obscure policy, parliamentary procedure, and enigmatic nomenclature. She worked hard, but also enjoyed the cheerful company of colleagues, with whom she shared many long hours, as well as many boisterous laughs.
Karen retired in 2012, after 60 years of nearly-continuous work, including 23 years of honorable Congressional service. She continued to be an avid reader, devoured current events, looked after friends and family in need, loved going to the movies, and spending time with family. As Karen’s health declined in recent years, she remained in her beautiful home, where she continued to share laughs and enjoy life with her family, friends and caregivers. Karen was and her family remain particularly grateful for the meticulous medical oversight provided by her primary care physician and the impeccable personal care provided by her team of in-home aides, most especially Mrs. Willie Mae Batts, who became her dearest friend.
Above all else, Karen took extreme pride and joy in the family she created. She is survived by three devoted children: Michael Ilsemann (Erica) of Tampa, Fl; Kristen Fenty (Joseph, deceased) and Kathryn Bower (James) of Alexandria, VA; as well as four beautiful grandchildren: Jamie Ilsemann (24); Grace and Nick Bower (20); and Lauren Fenty (15). She is also survived by brother, Michael Norman, of Avon, OH and sister/lifelong companion, Mary Norman, of Springfield, VA. Karen’s family will forever cherish her memory and admire her extraordinary strength of character.
A Memorial Service with Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 11:00 am on Saturday, November 6 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 1608 Russell Road, Alexandria, VA.
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