We sadly announce the passing of Karen Lynne Darsey Monteleone of Kingwood, Texas, on September 7, 2013. Karen's life moved peacefully to its close at home, surrounded by her family, after a courageous battle with breast cancer. She was a loving and devoted wife and mother of four, as well as a beloved counselor at Riverwood Middle School.
Karen was born April 13, 1967, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Judy Dawson Darsey Clark and David Darsey. Karen grew up there in a close and nurturing family, and was active in the Baptist Church throughout her childhood. She also began her lifelong passion for athletics while young. As an eight-year old, she was the first girl to play little league baseball in her area. She ran track on the Duke City Dashers, with whom she traveled the country, won over 100 awards, and set a high jump record. But basketball was her primary sport, playing on her high school team that won two state titles and had a three-year record of 74-1. Karen was a two time All-District selection and was named Honorable Mention All-State as a sophomore. As her university did not play intercollegiate women's basketball, she played intramurals. She remained athletically active as an adult, ran the Houston Half Marathon in 2008, and played pick up basketball at every chance. She also loved college football and was a proud fan of the Texas Longhorns, attending many games over the years. She knew the rules of football better than anyone in her family, and always enjoyed following many sports.
Education played a primary role in Karen's life, both as a student and as her career. She graduated from Eldorado High School in Albuquerque in 1985, where she was selected to the National Honor Society. Karen attended college at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, earning a B.B.S. in psychology in 1989 with summa cum laude honors. At HSU, Karen was elected student body president, awarded the Minnie L. Anderson Medal as the outstanding female graduate, was a homecoming court princess, a member of Alpha Iota Omega sorority, a member of several honor societies, and recipient of several community service awards. Karen later earned her M.Ed. in educational psychology from The University of Texas in 1995. She was a life member of the UT Ex-Students Association.
Karen was an educator, holding many special education positions in Austin, Temple (Texas), Virginia, and Kingwood. She taught at King's Manor Elementary in Kingwood for one year before becoming a counselor at Riverwood Middle School in 2009. She loved RMS, where she made a big impact on many students' lives and will be greatly missed. The Riverwood staff and family showed its appreciation for Karen in many ways and were incredibly supportive during her illness, for which Karen and her family are deeply grateful. RMS organized the "Karing for Karen" campaign in her honor. This included two benefit basketball games at a sold out Kingwood High School gym, at which the wonderful Kingwood community turned out in force to show their love for Karen and cheer her "spider dribble" exhibition and six consecutive free throws.
Karen had the type of personality that drew everyone to her. She was friendly, caring, a good listener, fun, a workplace prankster, and quick to laugh with a beautiful smile. She displayed tremendous courage and a positive spirit throughout her illness, and never lost her sweet humor. She touched many people's lives. But most of all, Karen was a truly wonderful and loving mother, wife, daughter, and Christian. Her family and faith were always foremost, and her four children were her life's joy. Karen exemplified all that a mother should be, and her kids will be her proudest and lasting legacy.
Karen leaves behind Brent, her loving husband of 20 years, son Travis (17), daughters Lauren (15), Catherine (14), and Jenna (11), mother Judy Clark and husband Charles Clark of Albuquerque, brother John Darsey and wife Linda of San Antonio, Brent's mother Claire Brown and husband Claude Brown of Fort Worth, Brent's father Joseph Monteleone and wife Lezlie Monteleone of Fort Worth, Brent's brothers Will and Jay and their families, and a host of other relatives, friends, and loved ones. She was predeceased by her father David Darsey in 2003, maternal grandparents Herbert and Jimmie Dawson, and paternal grandparents J.T. and Oleta Darsey.
We are heartbroken at the loss of such a marvelous woman and mainstay of our lives, but are also overjoyed that Karen, a beautiful child of God, has lived such a wonderful life that she will enjoy eternity with the angels, in whose company she will forever inspire us.
Visitation will be held on Friday, September 13, 2013, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm at Kingwood Funeral Home, 22800 Highway 59 North, Kingwood, Texas. A memorial service celebrating Karen's life will be on Saturday, September 14, 2013, at 2:00 pm with reception following at Woodridge Baptist Church, 5707 Kingwood Drive, Kingwood, Texas. In lieu of flowers, gifts in Karen's memory may be made to Hardin-Simmons University, The University of Texas at Austin, Riverwood Middle School, MD Anderson Cancer Center, or Woodridge Baptist Church.