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Karen Minner Life Sketch

Karen Janeen Minner was born in St. Joseph, Michigan, September 11, 1977, to Ray and Vida Welch Minner. She was the second in a family of four daughters, joining her older sister, Jennifer, and later welcoming her younger sisters, Megan and Katie.

Her elementary school education began at Mile High Academy in Denver, Colorado, but by third grade she had moved to Maryland, and the rest of her grade school years were at the Frederick Seventh-day Adventist School.

Karen always loved school. She and her sisters even pretended to be Laura Ingalls and her students at the school in Little House on the Prairie. Her love of school was always reflected in her grades.

Karen attended high school right here at Highland View Academy. She involved herself in the life of HVA with passion, and was elected vice president of her freshman and sophomore classes, secretary of her junior class, and pastor of her senior class. She was active in Highlanders, the band, and bell choir, and at her graduation in 1996 she received the bell choir's Student of the Year award.

Karen chose Southern Adventist University to pursue her degree in elementary education, interrupting her stay at Southern to serve as a student missionary on the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia. She taught fourth grade at the mission school there from August 1999 to May 2000.

Her crisis management skills were put to the test from time to time in Pohnpei, including the day a beloved campus dog was shot and and sought refuge in her classroom where he then lay down and died right in front of her students.

Karen's work with children extended beyond the classroom. For four summers she worked on the staff at Mount Aetna Youth Camp. The campers in her cabin loved her. Three of them made the trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to see her last Wednesday.

In May 2001, just six months ago, she graduated cum laude from Southern Adventist University with her bachelor's degree in elementary ed. She began as a professional teacher in August at Beltsville Adventist School in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, teaching English and math to the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

But around that same time, just as she was beginning a promising career, she started to experience symptoms of a mysterious illness. She struggled gamely at the onset of the disease to continue teaching, battling pain and extreme fatigue. Finally, she became so ill she was hospitalized four times over a two-week period. It was during this fourth hospital stay in Hagerstown that her condition suddenly became critical and she was airlifted to Hershey Medical Center, the teaching hospital for Penn State University's College of Medicine.

Over the next three and half weeks as her condition steadily deteriorated, she survived three emergency surgeries, and some of the finest medical minds in the country were consulted in an attempt to diagnose and treat her illness. Inquiries were made to the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins University, and other world renowned centers of medical research to no avail. The experts did not know why she was sick.

In her last few days, Karen became aware that she would have to leave us for a while. She was unafraid. She was surrounded by love, and she knew it. She was cared for by a heavenly Father who loves her more than we ever could, and she knew it.

The demonstration of support Karen and her family received in the last few days of her life–the dozens of friends who came to Hershey and spent whole nights in the waiting room and who gathered by her bedside to pray and sing to her-the hundreds of people around the world who were praying and e-mailing us their support–is made even more powerful by the fact that Karen was aware of it all. She saw and focused on every single visitor until the last ten hours. She was shown the e-mails, she was told about the prayers. She knew. She knew.

She passed to her rest on Thursday, November 8, 2001, and now she waits to hear the voice of Jesus.

She is survived by her mother, Vida Okuno, her father and stepmother, Ray and Laurie Redmer Minner, her sisters, Jennifer Payne, Megan Minner, and Katie Minner, her brother-in-law, Jason Payne, her grandparents, Dorothy Minner, and Al and Cleora Welch, other relatives in her extended family, and an untold number of friends.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

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