At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Mel Trotter Ministries
225 Commerce Ave SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Humane Society of West Michigan
3077 Wilson Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Karen Mangnuson was a loving wife, mother, sister, and grandmother. Generous beyond measure, she loved to pick out the perfect gifts for her family members. Her compassionate heart led her to also care for those she loved with grace. Karen loved her family most of all and wanted nothing more than the very best for each and every one of them. Although she will be deeply missed, her warm memories will forever be in the hearts of her many special friends and loved ones.
It seems only fitting that her story began during a time that was as vibrant as she was! It was the 1950s when James Dean was all the rage, Elvis Presley introduced the world to his Rock ’n Roll music, and the I Love Lucy show changed the way we looked at the American family. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1955, when Arthur and Margaret (Manni) Phillips welcomed home their youngest newborn daughter, Karen Lee, on February 22nd in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born the youngest of five girls, she brought great joy and happiness into the family home at 1345 Ball Ave NE.
Karen was a bright light in the lives of others. Even as a young child, her spunky and high energy personality didn’t go unnoticed. For this reason, Karen was a natural magnet for developing friendships. She attended Plymouth Christian before moving on to Oakview during her middle school years. Each and every summer the family enjoyed taking their annual vacation to Silver Lake to ride the dunes and catch the best sunsets over Lake Michigan. They also loved to take long car rides to other beautiful spots in the Great Lakes State. During her high school years, Karen focused on socializing and having fun! She loved to run track and attended many of the other sporting events with her girlfriends. Karen also balanced her job at the popular restaurant, Bonanza, going to the beach, and keeping up with her studies. After graduating from Northview High School, she worked for several years as a secretary at General Finance.
Not to be forgotten, however, was the meeting of Fred DeWys, who would sweep her off her feet during her high school years. Introduced by her older sister, the two of them began dating and the rest was history. Joining in marriage at the Fourth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, the happy couple were eager to start a family of their own. Karen’s mother made her wedding dress. It was such an intricate piece, it was featured in the Grand Rapids Press! Fred and Karen welcomed two wonderful daughters to their home on Garfield NE. Both social, there was never a dull moment in the DeWys household as they enjoyed hosting friends and neighbors over often! As the children grew, they enjoyed taking them sledding and tobogganing in the winter and hanging out with friends throughout the rest of the year. As a mother, Karen spent her days in the kitchen ensuring her family had a home-cooked meal and kept her home neat and tidy.
Later they moved to Little Bass Lake in Branch, Michigan where she kept the kids busy outdoors while she cleaned and kept everyone fed. When each of the girls fell in love with horse shows, Karen was sure to do their hair, press their outfits, and pack the family camper for the countless fairs and outings they attended over the years. She and Fred had fun playing “Duct Tape Bowling” during these years and made many special friends in the process! To supplement the family income, Karen started working at a local school in various roles. Despite their involvement in their children’s lives, eventually, their marriage ended in divorce.
A few years later, Karen remarried Jan Mangnuson and they settled in Grand Rapids. They eventually found a home on Radigan Lake in Ada. Her caring and nurturing nature led her to a position as a Certified Nurses Aid at Heather Hills. Although Karen was always such a joy to be around, her addiction to alcohol took a toll on her life. Her family believes that she struggled with some deep regrets that caused her to become isolated in the later years of her life. Supportive as well as forgiving, her daughters, family members and friends encouraged her several times throughout the years to seek help. More and more, she stayed home with Jan and socialized less and less. Even through her struggles however, she still poured every ounce of her well being into caring for Jan during his lengthy battle with cancer.
A woman of many special interests, Karen lived her life with purpose. She was a wonderful grandmother and loved her special visits with her grandchildren. She spoke on the phone weekly to her daughters who lived across the country. She enjoyed caring for her many plants and was an avid Detroit Tigers baseball fan! A memorable event was a trip with her daughters to see them play at Comerica Park for her 60th birthday. Despite the challenges in her life, Karen never wavered from the deep love she had for others. She developed a special companionship with Ron, who just like her had recently lost his spouse. One of the highlights of their time together was a trip down to Florida just after her 64th birthday. As her health began to decline, Ron, her children, sisters and numerous friends came to support her on her end of life journey. They gathered around her sharing stories and spending time with one another. Sadly, Karen passed away. She however is safe in God’s care, and loved the Lord greatly. May her loved ones never doubt the deep love she held for them and the peace and rest she now has with our Lord and Savior.
Karen Lee Mangnuson, passed away on December 14, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband, Jan, and by her parents, Arthur and Margaret Phillips. Karen is survived by her daughters, Krista (Joel) Budreau, Stacee (Lamonte) Brown and Dana (David) Fox; the father of her children, Fred (Mary) DeWys; grandchildren Mason, Madison, Blake, and Jaela; sisters Char (Paul) Stegink, Ruth (Tom) Langerak, Linda (Bill) Boylen, Marylou (Rick) Menken; her special friend Ron Oostveen and several nieces and nephews. The service to remember and celebrate Karen’s life will be held on Monday, December 23, 2019, at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE where friends are invited to visit with her family beginning at 9:30 AM and for a time immediately following the service. Karen loved people and pets and had the heart of a caregiver. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Mel Trotter Mission,the Humane Society of West Michigan, or another organization that helps the homeless. To share a memory or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com