Karen L. Pelham, 72, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her loving family, on January 16, 2020, following a courageous and graceful battle with cancer. Karen has been an integral member of the Onsted community for nearly her entire life, raising her family, developing life-long friendships and making a real difference in the town that has always meant so very much to her.
Karen was born in 1947 in Pontiac, Mich., the oldest child of Roy and Marion (Kemp) Larson. She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Bill Pelham, with whom she built a tremendously strong foundation of love and generosity for her family to grow and thrive within. She is also survived by her three children, Andrea (Terry) Reichel, Lesley Conrad (Mike Kendall), and Nick (Kellie) Pelham; as well as the absolute joys of her life, her grandchildren, Jarrett and Lauren Reichel, Will and Ross Conrad, and Madalynn, Alexander and Vivian Pelham.
As a woman who sincerely cared about, actively helped, and unconditionally supported so many throughout her lifetime, she leaves behind immeasurable meaningful relationships she developed with friends, coworkers, bosses, and neighbors and Karen shared an especially close bond with her three loving and devoted sisters, (Joanne Larson-Howell, Cheryl Larson-Yeutter, and Barbara Larson-Meyers,) she enjoyed being an aunt to numerous nieces and nephews and has a circle of special friends whose lives were lit up by her smile, her caring spirit, and her generosity. She was preceded in death by her parents.
Karen and her husband, Bill, both graduated from Onsted Schools and married in 1967. Karen also graduated from the University of Michigan in 1967 as a registered dental hygienist and immediately embarked upon a successful career in the field of dental hygiene, which she truly loved. She spent more than 35 years caring for others, finishing her career at Jackson Pediatric Dentistry, where she was well- known and admired by patients and co-workers alike.
Karen also spent her life volunteering her time and energy to the Onsted community, especially the school system, to help better the world. Karen was a founding member of both the Onsted Community School Foundation and the Onsted Alumni Association, as well as someone who spent many years volunteering with the Onsted Community Recreation Committee, school millage proposal committees, and local Boy Scout and Girl Scout chapters. She and Bill spent countless hours avidly following the athletic and extra-curricular activities of first their children, then their grandchildren, all of whom know Grandma Karen as their most loyal fan – and the best chocolate chip cookie baker in the world.
A public celebration of life honoring Karen and her lasting impact on her family and the entire community will be held Sunday, January 26, 2020, from 1-3 p.m. in the Onsted High School auditeria, with a remembrance service taking place at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Karen’s memory to the Onsted Community School Foundation. Private interment will take place at Maple Shade Cemetery in Onsted at a later date. Arrangements have been entrusted to Brown-Van Hemert Funeral Homes, Dunn Chapel, Onsted, Mich. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.brownvanhemert.com.