Karen Chiappini, 67, of New Jersey and formerly of Cold Spring, died June 10.
Born in 1954, she was the daughter of Norman and Rose (Newkirk) Champlin Jr. Karen grew up in Cold Spring, where she began her musical career at age 13 as the organist at the First Presbyterian Church of Philipstown.
After attending Westminster Choir College, where she earned a bachelor of music degree in church music and music education, she later attended Montclair State University, where she received a master’s degree in organ performance.
Along with playing the organ, Karen directed vocal choirs and bell choirs and taught elementary school music at schools and churches of various denominations, including First Presbyterian, Old Orchard United Methodist Church, Pompton Reformed Church, Park United Presbyterian Church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Timothy and Church of the Assumption in Morristown, New Jersey.
At age 50, Karen earned her nursing degree at Bergen County Community College. After a short career as a nurse, she returned to music and continued as an organist for the Church of the Assumption in Morristown until her retirement. After retiring, she continued to play when she could, including her most recent church, the Fardale Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mahwah, New Jersey.
Music was always her passion and her ministry. Her creative side led her to develop a Kindermusik program for young children, and also to entertain children as Rainbow the Clown. She enjoyed attending concerts, photography and spending time with family and friends. She always had a kind heart and a gentle smile for all, her family said.
Karen is survived by her son, Christopher Chiappini; a sister, Dale Meck (David) of Hyde Park; her nephews, Michael Meck (Catie) of Baltimore and Matthew Meck (Hannah) of Hyde Park; her aunt, Anne Champlin of Cold Spring; and a cousin, Jon Champlin of Cold Spring. A son, Robert VanDongen Jr., died before her.
A memorial mass will be held at Church of the Assumption, with burial at Cold Spring Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the Church of the Assumption (assumptionparish.org) or First Presbyterian Church of Philipstown (presbychurchcoldspring.org).