In Her Words: Karen's Story

Karen's Story

In Her Words
Candid profiles of strength told by the women of Northbridge

Throughout the month of March we have collaborated to celebrate Women’s History Month and the rich history of the amazing women living in our communities. Their candid stories are brimming over with love, happiness, passion, family values and the markings of individuals who have truly lived well and loved life.

Karen’s Story (Resident of Avita of Brunswick)

What is your name?
Karen Gillman

What are the names of your parents and brothers and sisters?
My mother was Myra and she was born on February 29th. My father was Raymond, he was born in Germany and his name did not translate to English, so he became Raymond. He and my sister Janice were born on July 4th.

When and where were you born?
I was born on September 16th in Wichita, Kansas at St. Francis Hospital.

What kinds of things did your family do together when you were young?
We went to Afton Lake a lot and I loved to explore. I remember sticking my fingers down a hole and up a snake would come after me and I would run and squeal and act silly. We would go to the drive-in, that was always fun.

What did you love to do with your friends?
I belonged to the Rainbow Girls and I really enjoyed going to the meetings. I became a Worthy Adviser and eventually became the Grand Dean of the Grand Cross of Color (I was the head of the state office). That took up a lot of my time, I had to memorize a lot.

What schools did you attend? What were your favorite subjects?
First, I went to Phillips University for 3 years, and then I met my husband and transfered to his university, Oklahoma State University to study Math and English. I loved Math and that made me special because none of the other girls did.

If married, what is/was your husband’s name? How did he propose?
My first husband and I had a blind date and we went out with some of the other math majors. When he prososed, he wanted me to sit on his lap but I sat on the wrong side and he had to move me to get the ring out of his pocket! I was so pleased that he asked! We divorced after 20 years and I met my second husband through a mutual friend, we met on a blind date as well. He proposed at a teaching clinic for therapists.

What are your children’s names?
I had two girls with my first husband, Debbie and Sandy. Debbie now has 3 boys.

What are some special memories you have about your children?
We always had a lot of fun together, we loved to tell stories to each other.

Where have you lived?
I moved according to my studying. I moved from Kansas to Oklahoma with my first husband, then we moved to Virginia where I got my Master’s Degree. In New York, I got my Doctorate and met my second husband. While looking for places the both of us would like, we found Maine and have been here ever since.

Have you had jobs? Who did you work for and what did you do?
I retired as a Counselor with a Doctorate Degree. Through the course of my career I have been a counselor and a 1st grade teacher, and loved them both. I was also the head of a clinic in New York where I supervised 6 High School Counselors.

What are your hidden talents?
I worked with the Girl Scouts because I was a singner and taught them a lot of songs, I’ve done musical work with kids and adults. I played tennis, I have 2 trophies, but I have since given that up and play table tennis now.

What are some of your favorite things?
I love singing, especially with my second husband because we were very loving. I also enjoyed my time with The Rainbow Girls.

What are some personal experiences that have especially touched your heart?
Most personal experiences I’ve had have touched my heart, most noticeably was when I taught the Girl Scouts how to sing and then listen to them perform.

What are your favorite things to do now?
I like playing ping pong, going out in cars and having people over.

What are your favorite experiences to partake in at your community?
There is always so much going on, I’m always busy because I want to be a part of it all!

What do you hope for your children and grandchildren?
That they live the lives that bring them joy.

What is your biggest piece of advice?
Have fun!

Sum up your personality in one word...

To learn more about the wonderful way of life at Avita of Brunswick, click here.