Remains of Globetrotting Educator Return Home
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The remains of a Fairport woman are returning home Thursday after she died in Africa.
33-year old Karen Wiener had worked as a social worker in Malawi for just three weeks before her death.
In a way, Karen Wiener had already been gone for years. Karen was a globetrotter. From Los Angeles to Honduras, Singapore to Shanghai.
Maybe that's why it was easier for Karen's parents Dick and Mary Ann Wiener to receive the news.
They said, "Well, it was the day before Thanksgiving. Day before Thanksgiving we got the phone call from the embassy in Malawi."
There was a blood clot in Karen's lungs.
Mary Ann said, "They found her in bed, so she had died in her sleep."
At just 33-years-old. Death can be a whirlwind.
"If someone dies suddenly, you have what, maybe two days?” said Mary Ann.
But sometimes death slows things down just enough to appreciate a life well-lived.
Mary Ann added, "Fortunately, Karen, who I never thought was that organized, had boxes in the closet. And they were all these boxes you get at Michael's, and you store pictures in them. And she had about fifteen of them in there. And so we just went through them. And we had more laughs, because of all the silly stuff."
A non-profit called FHI-360 took Karen worldwide, working to improve young lives in impoverished countries. Karen's focus was childhood literacy.
Mary Ann said, "Her thing was this little booklet. This is called Timaweranga Bobby bit a ball. Pop! Bobby bit a bug. Buzz!"
Fitting then that so many written tributes are pouring in: from the CEO of her company; from her favorite college professor; from friends.
Mary Ann said, "And they all mentioned just how helpful she was and how down-to-earth she was."
She'd been away for years, but Karen was never truly gone. Now she lives on in hearts, and pictures, worldwide.
Mary Ann Wiener said, "You know, they say 'oh the degrees, and the education' and stuff she had. I think they're wonderful. But I'm not as proud of her for those things, as I am of all the stuff that she's done."