My mother died on Thursday. This is the obituary that the kids put together for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Loving and loyal mother, wife, sister, and friend, Karen Green Zimmerman died on Thursday, September 29 in Santa Rosa, due to complications from Lewy Body dementia.
Karen was born in Berkeley on January 4, 1934 to Tauno and Irja Ahonen, both Finnish immigrants. She grew up beautiful and brilliant — the belle of Berkeley High School and a bathing beauty at Twain Harte Lake, where the Ahonens spent their summers. Karen received her Associate of Arts degree from UC Berkeley in 1953 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year, but she left college before getting a bachelor’s degree to marry Bliss Green. The two had five children, the first four in rapid succession — at one point she was caring for four children under the age of six. They settled in Santa Rosa in 1965.
Once her youngest was in school, Karen began working as a receptionist at what is now the law firm of Geary, Shea, O’Donnell, Grattan & Mitchell. But her natural intelligence and industry could not escape the eagle eyes of Bill Geary, and she soon rose up the ranks, eventually becoming the firm’s office manager and probate paralegal.
Not long after her divorce from Bliss, Karen was shopping in the Rincon Valley Safeway when she bumped into her sweet sixteen summer love — the dreamy lifeguard from Twain Harte Lake, Gerard Zimmerman. Gerard had recently moved from Modesto and, without knowing Karen lived in Santa Rosa, chose an apartment only a few blocks away from her house. It was kismet, and they were married in 1988.
When Karen retired from the Geary firm in 1996, she and Gerard moved to their beloved Twain Harte, where they were big golfers, hikers and skiers, and an essential part of the Twain Harte social scene. When Gerard died in 2009, a part of her died too. In 2013, she moved back to Santa Rosa. She spent the final 18 months of her life in the loving care of the Wild Rose Care Home, where she was something of a staff favorite.
Karen is survived by a brother, Ronald Ahonen of Los Angeles; five children — Janet Leisen (Corrie) of Santa Rosa, Dayna Green Burgeson (Adrian) of Newcastle, California, Susan Green of Santa Rosa, Michael Green (Kiersten) of Williamsburg, Virginia, and Linda Green Burns (Mark) of Chicago; a stepdaughter, Nancy Hoyt (David) of Twain Harte, California; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Any gifts in her memory should be to:
The Lewy Body Dementia Association – lbda.org.