North Coast Chapter - CNPS

A Friend Passes ...

Karen Ruth Colyear Theiss (1946-1998)

By David Imper

Most of you probably know that the Society lost a good friend recently. Karen Theiss, respected local botanist and environmental consultant, passed away on September 19 following a courageous battle with cancer. She takes with her both an extensive knowledge of the California flora and a deep commitment to its preservation. Beyond the deep personal loss felt by her family and so many in the community, her absence will be felt on the North Coast in other significant ways. Karen was a true professional, one of a select few consultants to be well trusted and liked by business and agency staff alike. Her balanced approach and skill in facilitating solutions to local development conflicts will be sorely missed.

We've lost so many truly dedicated individuals locally in the past few years - Lori Holden, Doris Niles, Lewis Klein, and Karen, to name a few that touched me very personally. These are people that had and continue to have a lasting impact on the precious quality of life we have on the North Coast. We benefit daily from their actions, yet few realize how or when. The patches of eelgrass preserved in the bay, the creek or wetlandsaved there, the Menzies wallflower or beach layia left to grow on the spit, all as a result of Karen's attention to enlightened project planning. As Ron LeValley so well described Karen's consulting legacy at the funeral service, "Karen helped save the little pieces.....lots of them." We must not forget the very important contributions these individuals have made, from which we and so many future generations will benefit.

Many of us were overwhelmed at the number and diversity of people that attended Karen's service, from all walks of life. She was involved in so many things and touched so many people...yet I think I will remember her botanizing in a pristine wetland, on a sunny day, not a care in the world, no project deadlines, with one more curious wildflower to be identified. I think she'd like for us to remember her that way.

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California Native Plant Society - North Coast Chapter
P.O. Box 1067 Arcata, CA 95518-1067
Last updated October 1998