Karen Therese Bien
The fourth of six children, Karen grew up in Chicago, IL with 5 brothers. She was raised Catholic and attended Our Lady of Grace and St. Giles Catholic Church. She also attended Our Lady of Grace for schooling as a child, until the family moved to Oak Park and started attending public school. As she grew up, she graduated from Oak Park Forest High School in 1976, and Illinois State University in 1980.
She would then move out of state to find herself working as a cocktail waitress at a fancy country club in Topeka, Kansas. This is where she met the love of her life, David, who was working as a bartender. After his ‘over the phone’ proposal, they married at St. Giles on July 25, 1982. After honeymooning in Las Vegas, Nevada, they decided to settle down in Arizona. They had three children: Chris (born in 1985), Ashley (born in 1987), and Olivia (born in 1991). While David and Karen both worked during the day, David would watch the kids at night, while Karen continued to pursue her education. She proudly graduated with her Doctorate in Education from Arizona State University in 1997.
She had a wonderfully fulfilling career of 26 years, which began in September of 1983 with Prehab of Arizona (now, A New Leaf). She began at DMR, then became Head Teacher at the Helaman House, and was finally made principal at The William K. Eaton School (a school for delinquent boys), where she left in May of 2010. Her uplifting nature, and her passion for wanting to help others in need is what drove her during these years. She was frequently reminded of how impactful her work was when she ran into previous students at the grocery store, and they would express tremendous gratitude and share how well they were doing since the program. She was recognized many times over the years for her selfless efforts with these awards: Staff of the Year in 1987, The Dorothy W. Ebert Award in 1990, The Larry Simons Award in 2008, a Dedications and Contributions as President of the Breakfast Optimist Club of Mesa, AZ from 2009-2011 Award, and more.
After her husband David returned from a 5-year job in Afghanistan, it wasn’t but 2 years before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She graciously stood by him for the next 2 years and took care of him until he passed away on March 21, 2018.
Karen began employment at Circle K in 2016 and was currently working for them until the day she passed. Over the years, she met some wonderful people and connected with so many regular customers. The people that she worked with made her very happy.
When David and Karen moved to Arizona, they also established themselves as parishioners at Resurrection Catholic Church in Tempe and remained there for over 30 years. Through Resurrection, Karen also taught Religious Education, volunteered during the annual “Walk Through Bethlehem,” and volunteered with St. Vincent De Paul.
Her warm and kind soul was present in every aspect of her life. She had many close, lifelong friends who would describe her as sweet, compassionate, and thoughtful. Some of their favorite things to do together were playing card games, trying new restaurants, sharing recipes, gardening, and crafting.
She loved being a mother and watching her children grow up. She was consistently involved in their lives and always showed support for their interests, hobbies, goals, and quirks. Family was the most important thing to her, and she always found ways to make you feel special. Especially during the holidays, you could always expect festive outfits, many decorations, special recipes, festive movies/music, and carried on traditions. Her and her family also enjoyed many vacations to San Diego and Oceanside, California.
The only thing that made Karen happier than being a mother, was being a grandmother (or Nana in her case) to Caleb, Brooklyn, and Noah. She loved taking them to the pool in the summers, baking together, reading with them, playing games, doing puzzles, and visiting them in Georgia. She loved them dearly.
Karen also loved to sing, had a strong passion for reading, walking for exercise, watching romantic/Hallmark movies, listening to Keith Urban, and speeding, occasionally.
Karen is survived by her daughters, Ashley Bien and Olivia Bien (James Moser), son, Chris Bien, brothers, Ken Maher (Deb Maher), Jim Maher (Tresia Maher), Patrick Maher, Mike Maher (Kris Maher), Larry Maher (Kathy Gibson), and three grandchildren.
Karen was preceded in death by her parents, in-laws, husband and friends.
A rosary will be held for Karen on Thursday, July 8, 2021 from 6 to 9pm at Thompson Funeral Chapel. A funeral mass will be held at the Church of the Resurrection on Friday, July 9, 2021 at 10am.
You can find the link to Livestream of Mass at www.resurrectionaz.org