Saturday, May 18, 2019
11:00 AM EDT
Vicksburg Bible Church
11988 S. Sprinkle Rd.
Vicksburg, MI 49097
Life Story / Obituary
Karen Kay Smith Tooley was a most remarkable woman by any standard you can imagine. An outstanding wife, mother, sister, aunt, and nurse, she worked diligently with her church, her family, and her community—dedicated, always, to being helpful to others on their own journey through life. In so doing, Karen touched the lives of countless numbers of people in a deep and special way, giving them hope and encouragement. To be in the presence of her positive attitude was uplifting.
Karen’s life began 78 years ago, on the second day of August in the year 1940. It was a time when there was a lot happening in the world. Here in America Mount Rushmore was being completed and in Europe, World War II was beginning. But in the quiet and lovely little town of Sturgis, MI, Geary and Jean (Warner) Smith were celebrating the birth of their beautiful daughter, Karen Kay!
Little Karen, along with her brother, Harold, grew up in Sturgis and attended Sturgis Public Schools. Karen graduated high school there in 1958. Her strong desire to become a helpmate to others began right then as she decided to become a nurse. What better career could there be than to stand at a patient’s bedside and comfort them when they need it most. Karen completed her practical nurse training program and became a Licensed Practice Nurse in 1960.
As it turned out, 1960 was a big year in Karen’s life as she not only finished her nurse’s training but fell in love . . . and got married! And what a fun story that is. It was all about the “The Boy Next Door”! His name was Clyde Tooley. It didn’t hurt that Clyde’s and Karen’s grandmothers worked together, and in addition to that, Karen’s mother used to babysit Clyde! The attraction between Karen and Clyde blossomed and the two became husband and wife in a lovely marriage ceremony in November 1960. Love and marriage are a beautiful thing and as time went on Karen and Clyde became the proud and loving parents of three beautiful children—Michael David, Barbara, and Mark.
Clyde and Karen moved to Vicksburg, MI, in 1964 where they became Charter Members of Vicksburg Bible Church. Always willing and anxious to contribute their time and talent, they helped build the church and were very active members. For years Karen played a key role as the one in charge of the all-important funeral luncheons. Time does take its toll, however, and so it is interesting to note that Karen and Clyde were the last surviving Charter Members of the church.
Always giving her time and energy to others, Karen was one of the first ladies to be trained for the Vicksburg Volunteer Ambulance Service. She also played an important role in raising the funds necessary to purchase the new ambulance for Vicksburg. And as an LPN she was happy to help move patients from the old Vicksburg Hospital to the new Hospital when it opened.
Karen wasn’t all work and no play, however. She found well deserved and needed rest and relaxation in the stillness and natural beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Karen and Clyde never passed up a chance to head north to camp in the quiet wonder of the U.P. Yes, for them it was “Pure Michigan”. They did go the other direction, though, in 1993, when they went south on a mission trip; way south you might say, to Peru. Being dedicated to God, Karen and Clyde did everything they could, always, to share the goodness of the Lord where ever and whenever they were able to do so. They did it together for 46 wonderful years until Clyde’s passing in 2006.
In addition to the church, Karen gave generously in other ways as well, by being active in the community. Helping others was in her DNA, no question about that. She was always positive, encouraging, willing and anxious to help. The Vicksburg Ladies Library Auxiliary was important to her, as was the Vicksburg Historical Museum, and Alternatives of Kalamazoo (making baby blankets), and the Vicksburg Volunteer Ambulance Service, the Red Cross, and the Disaster Action Team. In addition to all the work she did locally, Karen served in various positions on the Michigan Licensed Practical Nursing Board.
On Tuesday, May 14, 2019, Karen joined her husband, Clyde, in Heaven. She leaves her family, her friends, and her community an amazing legacy of pure goodness, a model helpful to all who want to make the world a better place. The way Karen lived her life can be summed up beautifully in one sentence, like this, “Love God first, Care for family second, Care for others always.”
Karen’s family includes her daughter, Barbara Tooley, son, Mark Tooley, brother Harold Smith of Phoenix, AZ, and many nieces and nephews. Karen is preceded in death by her husband, Clyde Tooley, her son, Michael David, and her parents, Geary and Jean (Warner) Smith.
Karen’s family will receive friends on Friday, May 17, 2019, from 4pm to 7pm at McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Homes, Rupert-Durham Chapel, 409 S. Main St., Vicksburg, MI. Service will be at 11am Saturday, May 18, 2019, at Vicksburg Bible Church, 11988 S. Sprinkle Rd., Vicksburg, MI, 49097.
Please visit Karen’s webpage at www.mccowensecord.com where you can sign the guestbook and share a special memory. Those who wish may make contributions to the Vicksburg Bible Church or Crossworld. The family is being assisted by McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes, 409 S. Main St., Vicksburg, MI 49097 (269-649-1697).