Karen Kathryn (Knebel) Brooks passed away on August 22, 2023, after a ten -year struggle with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Karen was born on December 21, 1952, in Breese, Illinois. After several moves around the Midwest, the family settled in Kansas City, Missouri, where Karen graduated from Ruskin High School in 1970. Karen had a long relationship with the love of her life, Harold (Hal) Brooks. They married in 1992.
Karen was highly educated. She began her college studies at Southwest Missouri State University, returned to Kansas City after a few years, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at Avila University. Her proudest achievement was earning a master’s degree in business administration from the UMKC Bloch School of Business Management.
Karen’s work filled her life. She was a compassionate social worker with the State of Missouri for several years. She raved about her time working with Junior Achievement. Her longest tenured position was with CBIZ, where she was the Director of Human Resources. While there, she made many lifelong friends with whom she enjoyed traveling. In 2015, Karen retired as the Training and Development Senior Specialist at UMKC.
Family was most important to Karen. She always looked forward to family gatherings with her parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins. She was the life of the party! Her smile was radiant. She was the best Auntie ever to her nieces and nephews, who especially loved her annual Christmas cookie baking event.
Karen loved music. She found pure joy in dancing to fun bands and going to concerts. Who didn’t love sharing the dance floor with her? Karen was a motorcycle rider, first with her husband Hal, and then riding her own Harley. Getting away to tropical locations with Hal and a few good novels was how Karen found true relaxation.
Karen will long be remembered for her big heart and for being the caregiver she was. Whether it was her husband, siblings, nieces and nephews or complete strangers, Karen was always there to help others however she could. She had the best ear for listening to anyone else who was struggling or who had had a bad day. Every day, for a year, Karen brought a peanut butter sandwich and coffee to a gentleman without housing who she passed on her way to work. Her selfless love for others inspired us all.
Karen is preceded in death by her parents, Thomas Joseph Knebel and Mary Louise Harper, and sister Mary Jo Knebel. She is survived by her husband, Harold Gene Brooks, her siblings, Vicki Davis, Beth Callstrom (Randy), Tom Knebel (Susan) and many nieces and nephews.
A visitation is scheduled for Friday, September 1, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, at the Johnson County Funeral Chapel (11200 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park Kansas 66210), with a Funeral Service on Saturday, September 2, 10:00 am, also at the Johnson County Funeral Chapel. Memorial donations can be made to the Alzheimer's Association, or to the Elm Springs Baptist Church Cemetery.