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Welcome to the memorial page for

Karen Joan Townsend

March 6, 1955 ~ May 8, 2017 (age 62)

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After 2.5 years fighting breast cancer, Karen Joan Townsend, age 62, died Monday, May 8th at 7:05 p.m. in her home located in Asheville, North Carolina. She spent her last weeks with friends and family supporting her and with the helpful assistance of the CarePartners Hospice team, especially that of her nurse. Karen’s cremated remains were buried during an intimate graveside service at Carolina Memorial Sanctuary.

Karen is survived by her husband, Tim Barrett, and her stepchildren, Cassie Barrett located in Asheville, North Carolina; Tim Barrett (Tim Jr.) located in Santa Rosa, California; and Logan Barrett located in Asheville, North Carolina.

Karen was a unique and amazing woman with a wonderful story. Karen was raised by her working mother and grandmother in So CA as a latchkey child, so she learned quickly to stand on her own, be fearless, and step into the world believing she could accomplish whatever she set her mind to, and she did just that. Fresh out of college she moved to San Francisco and was quickly hired at a top design firm. Her design talents were recognized and she was off and running. Soon the word got out and the Headhunters were calling with offers from other firms. Eventually she became VP at a commercial office design company. By her 30’s, Karen opened her own firm called the Townsend Group. That is where she met Tim and they became the dynamic duo working together to build the firm. In her 40’s she decided on a complete career change and went back to college to get two Masters - one in Organizational Psychology and the other in Transpersonal Psychology and became a Psychologist. She had her own practice in Northern California, along with becoming a Professor at JFK University. When she and Tim moved to Asheville NC, she continued her practice and became a professor at A-B Tech, where she taught until her illness. She was adored by her students, winning the best teacher award.

Karen was a modern version of a Renaissance Woman. She had a brilliant intellect, she was an acute strategist, philosopher, successful business woman several times over, an artist, and a published poet. She was quick witted, and a hilarious story teller. When she got on a roll it was like watching a professional stand up comedian. She was truly a merry person, loved to laugh, usually with her head thrown back fully enjoying the moment. She was a wonderful conversationalist and loved the exchange of ideas.

 Karen never knew a stranger and people always seemed to share their life stories with her within minutes of meeting her - they could tell that she cared, was truly listening, and not judging. Karen was strong and could stand toe-to-toe with the best of them. Karen loved life and especially in her younger years, loved dancing and partying. Karen was an unabashed cat lady - she had many cat companions over her life and numerous cat trinkets and knicknacks. Karen loved the color blue, yellow roses, and dragonflies. She loved sweets, especially taffy and enjoyed biscotti and tea every morning as part of her daily ritual.

Karen was a true force of nature, no one who spent any time with her could imagine her light would ever be dimmed. We are sure she is busy in the afterlife helping others, telling stories, and rearranging the furniture. She will be loved and missed by everyone who had the fortune of knowing her.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made on her behalf to the American Brain Tumor Association or the Humane Society. 

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