Today, we cherish and celebrate the life of Karen Clark, 61, of Washington, who passed away on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, following a courageous battle with cancer.
It is impossible to quantify the impact that Karen left on this world. God gifts each of us uniquely and He gifted Karen with a passion for the sport of gymnastics and an unparalleled love of teaching. She served our Gym Dandy’s family, the gymnastics community and our community in general through countless hours of coaching, teaching, mentoring and generally loving on those under her care.
Karen has worked tirelessly to give every child possible a chance to enjoy gymnastics and share the love she has for the sport. Whether it is a preschool class, her special needs adults (whom she has taught for 30 years), or a competitive gymnast, she displayed patience, compassion, and an outpouring of love in everything she did.
She has built her life around gymnastics, and in turn gymnastics has given her the life of her dreams. Karen has always made sure everyone and everything was taken care of in the gymnastics community surrounding her. Whether it be a fellow coach teaching beside her, a neighboring gym running a competition, or the state board trying to pass new rules, she was always right there fighting for what was best for the children and this beloved sport.
In late 2014 Karen began her battle with cancer after being diagnosed with stage 3 uterine cancer. In the months that followed she began an intense treatment regimen of chemotherapy followed by radiation. At the end of the treatment, the cancer cells that should have disappeared seamed to form a small army within her body. Unfortunately for that army, they did not know they had chosen to battle with a real-life hero. During her fight with cancer, she demonstrated unbelievable strength as she battled the army living inside her. As difficult as the last three years of Karen’s life have been, her spirit never wavered and her passion and love for gymnastics were never sacrificed. She was and always will be #KARENSTRONG.
At the end of each competitive year, at the yearly banquet, Karen gifts each senior the Dr. Seuss book “Oh the places you’ll go.” Inside each cover she shared a personal note filled with words of wisdom and love, giving each gymnast encouragement as they begin the next season of their lives.
Karen, you will never know all of the “places you’ll go” as your love, guidance and encouragement live on the hearts of each of us who loved you and whose lives you’ve touched.
A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in the William G. Neal Funeral Homes, Ltd., 925 Allison Ave., Washington, PA, with Pastor Matt Todaro officiating.
Family suggests memorial contributions may be made to UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at Magee Women’s Hospital, 300 Halket St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, or Gym Dandy’s Gymnastics Association, 345 Meadowlands Blvd., Washington, PA 15301.