Obituary of Karen A. Cox
Karen A. Cox
Friends and family are mourning the loss of Karen Avril Cox who died at home on December 18, 2015 after a long illness. Karen was born in Berkeley on August 23, 1938, to Margret M. Ogle and Alden W. Cox. She is survived by her loving spouse Kathleen Kershaw, son Christopher Scannell, daughter-in-law Leah Zippert and grandchildren Andrew and Katherine, all of Oakland, sisters Brenda Suter of Soda Springs, Cherie Cox of Sacramento, sister-in-law Maggie Cox of Ottawa, Canada, nieces Andrina and Sarah, nephew Tory, and grand-niece and nephew, Eva and Alden. She spent her formative years in Berkeley, with idyllic summers at her Uncle John’s ranch near the Russian River. These experiences influenced Karen’s lifetime love of the outdoors and her interest in wilderness preservation. After graduation from Berkeley High School where she and her fun-loving group of “Spinsters” enjoyed many escapades, Karen was an undergrad at UC Davis and UC Berkeley where she was a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. She received a master’s in Library Science at the University of Michigan, and returned to the Bay Area to begin her career at the San Francisco Public Library. Karen’s career at the library spanned 25 years. Beginning as a reference librarian, she became Chief of Branches, Chief of Main, Assistant City Librarian, and Interim City Librarian. Karen’s love of reading and the enjoyment she received helping library patrons made her choice of professions a perfect fit. She always performed at the highest level of professionalism while being thoughtful and considerate of the staff, and always with the
objective of delivering the finest service to the public. An equally important passion for Karen was running, a talent that she discovered in her late 30s. Karen began competing with the Bay to Breakers as her first race and went on to complete 25 marathons, winning two of them outright. Early photos of Karen show her racing in her sister’s cut-off blue jeans – a pioneer during the birth of women’s competitive racing. In 1979, she and her friend Sue Johnston founded the Impalas, a women’s racing team, with her ex-husband Jim Scannell as coach. By 1981, Karen was named #1 Masters Female Runner in the World by Runners’ World Magazine, posting a 2:49:47 American Age Record in the marathon and a 38:26 10K as personal records. Since then, the Impalas have trained over 400 women who have competed at the local, national and international levels. The team continues today, carrying on Karen’s vision of offering an aggressive training program for athletic women of similar abilities. Karen and Kathleen met on a Sierra Club hike on the Dipsea in 1988 and moved to Nevada City in retirement, where Karen enjoyed gardening and hiking with the Tuesday/Friday group. She became active in political campaigns to support candidates who shared her values on the environment
and women’s issues, serving on the Board of the Sierra Nevada Group of the Sierra Club and the Great Old Broads For Wilderness. In between tomato harvests, Karen and Kathleen were active travelers for
the next 20 years. They kayaked in Baja California, canoed down the Green River eight times, walked from village to village in France and England, and explored Thailand, Bali, Greece, India, Turkey,
Cuba, the Azores, New Zealand, Ecuador, Mexico and Italy. Always setting new goals for herself, one of Karen’s ambitions was to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, and she completed many portions during the
last six years. While traveling, Karen especially enjoyed walking, visiting bookstores and searching for the perfect bakery. A life-long reader of the New Yorker magazine, friends observed all she needed for
happiness was Kathleen, the New Yorker, a cup of tea and a scone. Karen made us all better people and we are grateful for her presence in our lives and for the example she set with her quiet strength. There will be a celebration of Karen’s life in Nevada City on January 28 from 3-6 p.m. at the Madelyn Helling Library Community Room. If possible, please park in the lots below. If you wish to make donations in
Karen’s honor, please send to The Great Old Broads For Wilderness, 605 East 7th Avenue, Durango, CO 81301, http://www.greatoldbroads. org.
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