Karen Dykstra/Nielsen

November 28, 1960 ~ September 1, 2023 (age 62) 62 Years Old

Karen Dykstra/Nielsen Obituary

Karen Dykstra/Nielsen, age 62, native of Jackson, passed away with her husband by her side, at their home in Ann Arbor on Friday, September 1, 2023.

A visitation will take place from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday, November 4, 2023 at the Osterberg Funeral Home in Jackson, with Celebration of Life service beginning at 11:00 a.m. The service will be live streamed on the Osterberg Funeral Home Facebook Page. Burial will follow service at Riverside Cemetery.

In leu of flowers consider donating to a local animal shelter, the Humane Society of Huron Valley, or the American Cancer Society.   

Karen Denise Dykstra was born on 11-28-1960 to John and Dorothy Dykstra in Jackson, Minnesota.  She was baptized and confirmed in the 1st Presbyterian Church.  She graduated from Jackson HS in 1979, then from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1983 with a degree in Art History.  She went on to pursue Master’s degrees in Art History (UNC) and in Linguistics (EMU). 

Linguistics became her passion which she later taught for 13 years at Eastern Michigan University. A natural teacher, she was committed to all forms of education, delighted by discovery and valued equally all of her students, who loved her and learned from her. Her thirst for new experiences that led her into the study of linguistics also gave her many friends from around the world. Her travels to Greece and Italy and First Nation communities were especially treasured memories.

Karen began her work career at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis where she met the love of her life, Mark. They married in 1988 and moved to Ann Arbor where they remained until her passing.

Karen’s love for animals flourished in her childhood, having grown up on a farm with cats, dogs, horses and the wild animals she felt so lucky to encounter. She volunteered at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor as a dog walker, loving and supporting their mission in so many ways. Karen had a special place in her heart for cats and adopted Custard, Macey, Jilly and currently Lucy and Bert, into her home. If she found a wounded bird or rabbit in the yard she would nurse it back to health, sitting for hours with it in her lap. Later, she found joy in walking dogs and eventually became a blue dot walker. She was a friend to all animals big and small, using all natural and organics in her yard that provided habitat for outdoor creatures who found homes there year-round. 

Her commitment to feminism was fearless, believing with all her heart that fairness and equality should prevail in all walks of life. Karen will be remembered by friends and family as a bright spot in this world. Her vibrancy, brilliance and graceful elegance shone in her every movement. Her quick wit was always tempered by a deep sensitivity, kindness and insight.

In 2016 she was diagnosed with the cancer which would eventually take her life. She passed peacefully away on September 1, 2023 in the arms of her loving husband at their Ann Arbor home.

Karen is preceded in death by grandparents Henry and Cora Keutzer, and George and Mary Dykstra; aunts and uncles, Dewey (Loretta), Jake (Violet), Marvin (Betty), Charles, Don (Paula), Frank (Sue) Dykstra, Harold and Gladys Ratzlaff, Donna Bute; cousins Jim, Jeffrey, David, Joel Dykstra, Kevin Ratzlaff, Kalen Ratzlaff, Rich Benda and her loving father, John Dykstra.

Family mourning her passing include her husband, Mark Nielsen, mother, Dorothy Dykstra, sister and brother-in-law, Kim Boase (Brian), nephews Matt (Allison), Jordan (Bailey), Adam (Margo), Thomas; niece Emily; and 4 great-nephews and nieces (Lincoln, Cannon and Scarlett, Elijah), brother-in-law Brian Nielsen. Extended family include Judy Warfield (Duane), Cindy Green (Larry), Jerry Dykstra (Sandy), Barb Salyers (Roger), Bob Dykstra (Molly), Brad Dykstra (Cheryl), Dana Orr (Randy), Mike Dykstra, Vickie Hurd (Rick), Jim Bute, David Bute (Rhonda), Michelle Hubbard (Scott), Shannon Benda, Chad Benda (Amanda), Megan Jimenez (Ernie), and Wilbur Herrington.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Karen Dykstra/Nielsen, please visit our floral store.

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November 4, 2023

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Osterberg Funeral Home: Jackson
510 5th ST
Jackson, MN 56143

Celebration of Life
November 4, 2023

11:00 AM
Osterberg Funeral Home: Jackson
510 5th ST
Jackson, MN 56143


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