Karen Lee Canada, 62, of Norman, OK passed away Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at her home. Karen was born August 20, 1959 in Casa Grande, AZ to Charles Eugene and Nina FlorenceNewell. She graduated in 1977 from Fort Gibson High School in Fort Gibson, OK where she was a cheerleader, basketball player and an all-state left fielder. She continued her education at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK, pursuing a degree in accounting and business law.
Karen continued playing softball after high school, but she suffered an injury in 1984 that required surgery. Her sister Pam asked her recently widowed minister, Dick Canada of Fort Gibson, to visit Karen in the hospital. That visit began a relationship which a few months later blossomed into a marriage on May 3, 1985. They began their married lives together in Fort Gibson, blending their two families into one. In August 1985, the Canadas moved to Norman, OK where Karen and Dickmade their permanent home.
Before marriage, Karen put her accounting skills to work as bookkeeper for Bealls department store, but she found her niche when she took a job as the office manager for an engineering firm. She was a people person whose deferential style served her extremely well in management positions, and after moving to Norman, she continued to work in office management, first for Dr. Barney E. Blue of Family Physicians, then for her church, Alameda Church of Christ. Afterward, she found her style was perfectly suited to the building of a successful Arbonne businessin which she enjoyed helping other women to also become successful.
Karen was a devoted Christian and a 36-year member of Alameda Church of Christ in Norman. She was a long-time member of and hostess in Alameda’s small groups program and made lifelong friendships in her LIFE Group. Like her Savior, she had a heart for giving of herself, touching the lives of everyone around her, making them feel a part of her “chosen family” as she liked to think of it. She was a mentor and a “mom” to many. She enjoyed teaching children’s bible classes and working in the nursery, especially when her grandchildren were young and likely to be in attendance. She was active in sharing her faith and was steadfast in her belief in the full and perfect healing awaiting her in heaven.
The thing in life that Karen enjoyed most was being Karebear, the name by which everyone inside or outside her family knew her. If it had a dictionary definition, it would surely be “a grandmother who is totally devoted to her grandchildren.” She loved being a grandmother, and she got lots of opportunities to show it, being blessed with 13 grandchildren whom she loved with all her heart and who loved her just as much in return. Her annual Kamp Karebear is legendary among her friends and family as a time when all the grandkids went to Karebear’s house for a week of summer fun. No distance was too far for her to drive to pick up out-of-town grandkids to bring them to Norman. Saturday nights were Karebear’s weekly time with the grandkids. She would make sure they were all fed (usually at Ci Ci’s), bathed, dressed and usually on time for bible class on Sunday mornings. She wanted to never miss any of her grandkids’ school, sports or church activities, and would have attended all of them if that had been possible. Celebrating birthdays and having the family together for the holidays were among her greatest joys because they were more opportunities for her to speak to them in her love language – gift giving, the very essence of all that she was.
Knowing that about her, who would have thought that little five-foot-two girl, seventh of seven sisters from “Fort Gibson, America” would be so determined, so adamant from the day that she was diagnosed, that she was going to beat cancer? In the face of insurmountable odds and despite learning early on that her diagnosis was a sentence of premature death, she still “fought like a girl” to wring as much life as she could out of the year that her doctors predicted for her. And you know what? She won! She lived two-and-a-half years, and in that time she survived a pandemic, traveled to California and Colorado, saw grandchildren graduate from schools and begin careers, marry and establish homes. She celebrated on borrowed time the 2020 holidays. That extra time came at a price she was more than willing to pay. It involved enduring 40 trips to Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center; three major surgeries; five rounds of chemotherapy with two weeks recovering from chemo’s side effects in the OU Medical Center because she was too sick to travel to MD Anderson; four rounds of immunotherapy with three months of recovery from its damage to her lungs; andfinally eleven months of targeted therapy which almost – but not quite - brought her to the 2021 holidays despite its terrible side effects that caused her oncologist to call a halt to her treatment in late October, allowing the cancer to do its deadly work unchecked. Those who were there for her final moments sawhow tenaciously she held on to life. She wanted to live to see every one of her grandchildren grow up and have families of their own. Despite the two-and-a-half year reprieve, still she’s gone way too early.
Karen was preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Nina Newell; sister Linda Golightly; brother Charles “Chip” Newell, Jr.; nephews David Austin and Caleb Minor.
She is survived by her husband, Dick; son Rick Canada and wife Stacy; daughter Susan Kight and husband Sean; son Jared Clinkenbeard; son Adam Clinkenbeard and wife Brandy; sistersSharon Austin, Paula Summers, Hope Hedrick and husband Gene, Phyllis Yazzi and husband Michael, and Pam Bradley and husband Charles; and by her sister-in-law Judy Canada; and brother-in-law Mike Canada and wife Anne.
Karen is also survived by her 13 grandchildren, individually the lights of her life: Sadie Morgan and husband Dylan; Kylie Gunzelman and husband Nick; PFC Amy Parker and husband Nate; Brody Canada; Raylie, Sallie and Lanie Kight; Karleigh,Sam, Anna and Ben Clinkenbeard; and Isis and Sebastian Clinkenbeard.
She is also survived by 27 nieces and nephews and many great-nieces and great-nephews.
All who knew her loved her.
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