New York, NY - Karen Grace Oldham passed away at the age of 81 on May 9, 2023, at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home after a long and valiant battle with cancer. She was born in April 1942, the eldest of two daughters to the late E. Charles and Grace Kennedy Oldham of Weston Mills.
Karen was predeceased in April 2020 by her sister, Joyce A. Steiner, a lifetime Weston Mills resident. She is survived by Joyce’s two beloved children, Catherine (Dave) Landfried of Columbia, MD, and Andrew (William Falk) Steiner of New York, NY. She is also survived by her great-nieces, Erica Jordan and Kaitlin Landfried, great-nephew Andrew Landfried, and four generations of dear cousins.
After graduating from Portville Central School in 1960, Karen responded to a magazine ad to train for the ground crew of Northwest Orient Airlines. She then made her way to New York City where she would reside for the remainder of her life. She worked in the travel industry for 45 years, working as a travel agent, and ultimately becoming a corporate meeting planner for large corporations such as Don Travel, Carlson Wagonlit, Colgate Palmolive, Merrill Lynch, Hogg Robinson, and Deutsche Bank.
Karen traveled to nearly every state in the United States and over forty countries around the world. She had a thirst for adventure, excitement, and meeting new people. She picked up amethysts in Brazil, silk suits in Thailand, crystal in the Czech Republic, alpaca wool in Peru, coral in Hawai’i, turquoise in New Mexico, and the list goes on and on. She believed: "The more you travel, the more you learn. The more you share with people from different cultures, the better the world will be.”
Karen loved photography, crocheting, theater, art, music, and singing. If you had an extra ticket to a show, she would say “yes” before knowing anything about it. She had a lovely alto singing voice and performed with the Oratorio Society of New York and Essential Voices USA, singing in over ninety performances at Carnegie Hall and around the world. After each performance, she would also lead the charge to the nearest frozen margarita! In a word, Karen was a lot of fun. She was also a fighter and survivor. She did not give in to her first bout with breast cancer in 1990, or succumb to a devastating attack of Guillain Barre Syndrome in 2007 that left her reliant on a motorized wheelchair. She was diagnosed with breast cancer again in 2021. Alas, the toll of her treatment forced her into nursing care in November 2021, where she maintained her fighting spirit until her passing.
Karen was a quintessential “Auntie Mame,” and believed with her whole being that “life was a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” She will be greatly missed. In her memory, donations may be made to The Doe Fund at www.doe.org, The Portville Free Library, 2 North Main St, Portville, NY, or your local music program.
Burial will be held at the Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Portville, NY, in mid-July.