At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Sojourner Family Peace Center
619 W. Walnut Street
Milwaukee, WI 53212
In lieu of flowers memorials to: Sojourner Family Peace Center
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Karen K. Bourdo would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She was hardworking and talented, but there was nothing she enjoyed more than sharing her gifts and talents with those around her. It was no secret that Karen was married to the love of her life, and together they created a priceless collection of family memories with their loved ones that will last a lifetime. Although she will be deeply missed, Karen leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were few and far between, the unemployment rate soared to over 25 percent at its peak, and there were few American families who didn’t feel the strain. It was as 1931 was getting started that Karen K. was born to George and Marie Nick on December 16th, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Raised in Elm Grove, she was the youngest of five children as she was joined in her family by her siblings, Betty Jane, George Robert, Marion, and Fredrick. Later on, she was also joined in her family by her three older step-siblings, Ellen, Ralph, and Boris. Karen’s father, came from Macedonia and started a bakery with his brother. He then became a real estate broker and land developer. The family lived with Karen’s grandma, Ketha Christianson, in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.
From the time she was a young girl Karen was a bustle of activity. Family was very important to her throughout her entire life. Both of her paternal brothers went off to war at a young age, which wasn't easy for their family. Karen also loved animals and had a few of her own. She raised a goat, two ducks named Donald and Dora, a lamb, and a dog named Lucky. Karen participated in dance class, baseball, and sock hops. As a student she spent her younger years at Leeland Elementary, and from there she went to Hawthorn Junior High and Wauwatosa Senior High. In high school Karen participated in cheerleading, enjoyed both horseback riding and art, and she also excelled in her studies. She enjoyed her family and friends as well as spending time sun tanning at Bradford Beach.
After graduating from Wauwatosa Senior High School in 1949, Karen was eager for all that life had in store. While attending the University of Milwaukee for two years, she worked at Gimbles during the holidays for 85 cents an hour. Karen then got a job at Humphrey Chevrolet where she learned how to use the switchboard and worked in finance and billing. The company also had a bowling team that Karen’s father sponsored. She then became more involved with her father’s real estate business and received her broker’s license. Karen worked in the office and booked banquets for her family business, the Tyrolean Town House, with her father, and as a bookkeeper.
Big changes were in store for Karen when she met the man of her dreams. His name was Orin Bourdo and they first spotted one another while Karen was driving by him in her new, bright yellow convertible. Orin whistled at her saying, “That’s one hot canary you’re driving.” He asked Karen out for dinner, and the rest is history as they say. Karen and Orin were engaged on Valentine’s Day in 1958, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together they were married on a warm summer day, May 21, 1958, at Elm Grove Lutheran Church. Of course Karen was sun tanning in her yard in the hours leading up to her wedding! A reception at a new local restaurant on Blue Mound Road named Alioto’s followed, and it was a day to remember. Together Karen and Orin welcomed their daughter, Lisa Marie, into their hearts and home. The day she was born, June 4, 1963, was forever the best day of her life. Karen also loved dogs, and while raising her family she raised cocker spaniels including Taffy, Holly, Natasha, Ebon, and Petite as well as a St. Bernard named Neve.
Later in life Karen continued to cherish the days she was given. She and her husband moved in with the Menefee family, and they both played a major role in raising their grandchildren, Maren and Dylan. Karen was a very talented knitter and also enjoyed sewing and embroidery, bowling, teaching Sunday school, politics, and her Green Bay Packers. Karen was an avid reader and loved watching movies, and her favorite movie was “As Good As It Gets.” In 2006, Karen was deeply saddened with the death of her beloved Orin after 50 years of marriage.
With a journey that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Karen Bourdo made a significant impact in the lives of so many. She had a positive and laid back approach to life and was content in whatever came her way. Karen was filled with a boundless love for her family, and she was selfless when it came to those around her. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.
Karen Bourdo died on May 9, 2018. Loving mother and friend of Lisa Marie Menefee, cherished mother-in-law of Donny, and adoring grandmother of Dylan and Maren. Karen leaves many family and friends. Karen was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Orin, parents, and siblings. A celebration of life will be held at Suminski/Weiss Funeral Home on Monday, July 2 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. at 1901 N. Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee, WI. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a memory or sign the online guestbook.