Karen Dunn
Karen (Karn) Dunn

Karen Karlen Dunn, 74, of Bath, Maine, died at her home on Oct. 27, surrounded by family members.

Born Sept. 21, 1947, in Madison, Wisconsin, she was the daughter of Delmar and Alice Karlen. Known to friends and family as Karn, she spent much of her life in the Hudson Valley, with stops in Turkey, New York City, Vermont and Washington, D.C. before moving to Maine in 2016.

Most of Karn’s career was spent at Boscobel House & Gardens in Garrison. She wore numerous hats during her time there and retired as the director of marketing. Her many accomplishments included orchestrating the museum’s annual candlelight tours, training and mentoring docents, teaching holiday wreath making classes, and being an ambassador for Hudson Valley tourism.

Later in life, Karn parlayed her love of baking into Cookies du Jour, an artisanal baking company that she ran with her husband. She believed cookies should be eaten in one or two bites and eschewed the trend of saucer-sized cookies. It was always a special day when her oatmeal cookies, called “crack cookies” by some of her daughter’s friends, were on offer.

She believed in participatory democracy and was appointed to Cold Spring Planning Board before being elected to the Board of Trustees. Karn was known for being fair but firm, always willing to listen to all sides of a debate and committed to making Cold Spring a thriving community, her family said. During her time at Boscobel she and a friend developed and taught Speaking Out for Democracy, a program designed to teach students about the democratic system of government and the importance of using your voice.

Karn rarely met a creative pursuit she did not enjoy or at least was not willing to try, her family said. Over the years she honed her skills in gardening, calligraphy, decorative box making, etching, and paper marbling, to name a few. Notable fails include knitting a sweater with arms long enough for a giraffe and ruining a blender when trying to make handmade paper. She delighted in learning new things, and her family and friends delighted in being on the receiving end of a colorful bouquet of flowers, meticulously crafted box, carefully lettered card or whimsically wrapped package.

She is survived by her husband of 46 years, John Dunn; their daughter, Alicia Dunn of Boston; a brother, Delmar Karlen Jr. (Irene); and a stepdaughter, Yonina Ron and her children, Omri and Noam, of Israel.

Few things delighted Karn more than catching sight of a beautiful garden — as a memorial, the family asks that you plant bulbs or seeds to enjoy in your garden and home. Asked if there were any specific charities the family should direct donations toward, Karn said, “Choose an organization local to your community that’s important to you — be it a food bank, animal shelter, botanical garden, favorite museum — because so many people and places need support these days.”

A celebration of life will held at a later date.

Behind The Story

Type: Obituary

Obituary: Reports the death of an individual, providing an account of the person’s life including their achievements, any controversies in which they were involved, and reminiscences by people who knew them.

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One reply on “Karen (Karn) Dunn (1947-2021)”

  1. What a lovely tribute to Karn! I laughed at her blender-destruction technique and sympathized with her sweater for giraffes, being a failed knitter myself. We will plant some bulbs in her memory, and remember her ever Spring. All our love to John, Alicia, Del and Irene and all the family.

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