Karen was born in Berwyn, Illinois and moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming with her parents James and Adrienne Polis in 1974. She graduated from Douglas High School in Douglas, Wyoming in 1988. She graduated saludutorian of her class and was active in band and drama during her high school years. She attended Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts with a drama major in 1992 and a Master of Arts in Teaching in 1993.
Upon graduation from Willamette University, Karen was employed by the Portland Public School District #1. She became a member of the Franklin High School faculty in 1995 and remained there until she took disability leave in 2021. She was a talented and versatile educator who could teach English, social studies, psychology, speech, journalism, and drama. She taught with joy and enthusiasm and always found ways to reach and encourage her students. Two of her favorite ways to engage student learning were humor and showing movies that showcased the topic. Karen also was a supportive colleague to her fellow teachers and served as a union representative for several years.
Karen loved life and found joy in getting together with her friends and sharing stories. She had a great sense of humor and participated in comedy sports in Portland for several years. There always was a dog in her life. A labrador retriever was at her side when she was not in the classroom. Books and movies played an important part in her life and she held an Oscar party almost every year.
Karen is survived by her parents James Fred Polis and Adrienne Leigh Bartels Polis; her sister Laura Elaine Polis VanAlyne and her brother-in-law Robert Charles VanAlyne; her nephews Robert Charles VanAlyne III, and James Alyxander VanAlyne. She is preceded in death by her grand parents James and Bess Polis, and Joseph and Eleanor Bartels, as well as her uncles Thomas Bartels and James Bartels.
A Catholic funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 at St. Phillip Neri Catholic Church. The celebrant is Fr. Andrew Thomas, pastor of St. Phillip Neri Church.
Funeral and cremation arrangements are conducted by Holman’s Funeral Service, 2610 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, Oregon.