Karen Faur Passaro, 1960–2024

On a bright bluebird day, Karen Faur Passaro hiked a mountain. Let’s say she was 26 or 62. At the top—the good part—breathing hard, alive in her body, she threw her arms wide, saying this day will be a memory. The palmier at a bakery in a little nook in Barcelona after walking 28 miles that day. The dinner in Scotland after trekking in the Cuillin mountains in the blowing rain. A perfect three sets of upper body weights with the sun sliding in the window. The yoga on the beach in Oregon after walking twelve miles with a Pvolve workout before. If you are what you love, Karen was that feeling.

She radiated the energy to her relationships, to acquaintances, to the person in the back of the room no one else was talking to. She made friends everywhere, asking a bazillion questions, cheering you on. She was a mama bear and a support system, an impeccable dresser with a shopping habit to match, a producer of spectacular outdoor flowerpots, a New York City marathon finisher, the first— and last—one on the dance floor.

When she was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer in 2018, Karen refused to believe she had months to live. Parts of her that were always there magnified: her strength, resilience, her displays of affection for those she loved. She moved stubbornly forward, always forward, as if nothing was wrong. She walked her daughter down the aisle, led the wedding guests in a rousing Zumba set, traveled with her husband, David, saw the birth of her grandson, read to him, held his hand on the beach, savored every sunset. She was doing side planks a month before she died. “I’m not afraid of dying,” Karen said. “I just don’t want to miss out on all the living.”

Karen died February 9, 2024, at her Coeur d’ Alene home. She was 63.

She was born in Omaha, Nebraska, May 18, 1960. Just two minutes after her twin, Kimberly, she was a surprise to her parents, Paul and Patricia Faur.

From the time she was little she loved being outside. She played Little House on the Prairie with her siblings—along with Kim, there was Kristen and Keith. She went to Catholic church, holding pinkies with her dad. In another life Karen would have played team soccer and run cross-country, but those options weren’t open to girls at the time. She danced and took piano lessons. She and Kim were dressed in matching beautiful outfits until 8th grade. Their bond was strong, talking daily throughout their lives, laughing, finding the joy in most everything they did, supporting each other.

Her grandparents on her mother’s side emigrated from Poland, and they would sit and talk about the old country after dinner. Karka, as she was known to family, was proud of that heritage. She loved the language and the way of connecting with people, of taking care of family. Aunt Dorothy (her mom’s sister) and Uncle Merv were like a second set of parents for Karen and her siblings.

After graduating from Westside High School in 1978, Karen studied at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, where she was on the flag team. She followed Kim to Los Angeles because she missed her so dearly. At a party Karen met a handsome boy with dark curly hair that she wanted to run her fingers through. He wooed her with food, taking a picnic to the hospital where she worked, then to a Japanese restaurant where the food was OK but the company was sparkling. Karen and David were quickly inseparable and this lasted until she took her final breath.

They had a big Polish wedding in Omaha and a month-long honeymoon in Italy before moving to Hailey, Idaho. Their daughter, Jennifer, was born in 1988. Karen worked at the daycare at the Sun Valley Athletic Club, so she could keep her daughter with her. Karen, ever chatty, ever a whole-hearted listener, made a community among the celebrities and health enthusiasts.

The family moved to Boise, where son Jeffrey was born in 1997. She was an ever-present, ever-patient mother. She volunteered in her kids’ schools and went on every field trip. She had close friendships, as she would in each city where they moved. She was always heading out the door with her visor and her children, ready for a wander on bikes or foot. She visited Omaha every summer and sent boxes of cookies every Christmas.

Karen was a perfectionist. This was apparent in her four homes, from Hailey to Boise to Katy, Texas, where the family moved in 2006, to Coeur d’ Alene, where they made their home in 2011. She and David made the kitchen and dining room the heart of these houses, the place where family and friends gathered. The longer they were married the more playful they became. Empty nesters, they would linger over breakfast, reading the newspaper aloud to each other.

Karen didn’t like silence, so there was constantly music playing or a story being told. She didn’t like it if you didn’t wear sunscreen. She didn’t like it when doctors had scuffs on their shoes. She was polished, in her appearance, in her mannerisms; even when she was sick, she radiated well-being and joy.

Zumba was her medicine, both a sisterhood and a community, a way to go dancing in the middle of the day. And music, let’s not forget music. Karen loved the weepy ballads of Jackson Browne and the Avett Brothers, entire albums by Tom Petty and Van Morrison that could be danced to in the kitchen. She was always starting a song over from the beginning, especially a country song, and pulling David up to twirl her.

Karen leaves behind about 40 water bottles, three drawers of scarves, several bags of TJ Maxx returns, 4,496 Shazam-ed songs on her phone, dozens of cookbooks with torn tissues marking recipes she wanted to try, assorted greeting cards bought and unsent. She leaves everyone who knew her wanting more time with her. She leaves ripples of her energy— this walk, that conversation, that beaming smile. We recipients are everywhere, our days buoyed, our lives inspired.

Karen is survived by her husband of 39 years, David; daughter, Jennifer (Scott Gittens); son, Jeffrey; grandson, June; sisters Kimberly (Sylvio) Rebolloso and Kristen Kelly; Aunt Dorothy Harvey; brother-in-law Robert (Jamie) Passaro; many cousins, nieces and nephews, and dear, beloved friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Paul and Patricia Faur; grandparents, Paul and Helen Faur; and Joseph and Stella Kocol; brother, Keith Faur; nephew, Nick Rebolloso; parent-in-laws, Jean and Frank Passaro; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

A celebration of her life will be held Saturday, March 23, at 11 a.m. at Lumen Hall, 618 E Wallace Avenue, Coeur d’Alene. Lunch and music to follow. Wear your dancing shoes!

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Karen’s name to the Coeur d’Alene Kroc Scholarship Fund to provide fitness memberships to youth in need:  https://give-kroc.salvationarmy.org/give/226923/#!/donation/checkout or by mail to

The Kroc Scholarship Fund

1765 W Golf Course Rd

Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815

The family would like to thank the exceptional doctors, nurses, and staff at Beacon Clinic, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/UW Medical Center, Huntsman Cancer Center, and Hospice of North Idaho that gave Karen the gift of more time.

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