Palo Alto Online - Lasting Memories - Karen Sortino's memorial
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Karen Sortino
Aug. 17, 1936-Sept. 17, 2021
Menlo Park, CA

Karen Klivans Sortino passed away September 17 after a battle with cancer. She died peacefully at home, surrounded by family. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, the middle child of a Russian Jewish family, Karen was a funny and feisty young woman who attended University of Wisconsin and then worked in journalism, advertising, and elementary education in Cleveland until she met Alfred Weisz, a medical student at Case Western. They married, settled in Northern California, and began a family. Karen found great joy in a good laugh, a beautiful poem, and long conversations over deep cups of coffee. She enjoyed tennis, skiing, reading, hiking, Native American baskets and jewelry, and playing the piano. Alfred died of cancer in 1970, and Karen went back to school and then worked as an administrator, volunteer coordinator, and community college educator while raising three children, who she parented with a heavy dose of perspective. She loved learning and surrounding herself with people from different walks of life, and for over 50 years she volunteered at the International Center at Stanford University, teaching conversational English and American culture to students from around the world. Karen married again in 1982 and had a long, happy, and romantic relationship with her husband, Frank Sortino. She treasured food, jokes, crossword puzzles, travel, hiking, music, and especially time with family and grandchildren. Though she never considered herself “a success,” her life was characterized by enduring friendships. Karen had a wide circle of friends with whom she shared book discussions, mahjong, walking, meals, and lively conversation. Many of them called her “a force” of social engagement. She was characterized by a “cup half full” mentality and loved life and adventure. She inspired those around her to be kind, to be just, and to live with joy. Karen is survived by her husband Frank, her three children, Craig, Carolyn, and Margo, her daughter-in-law, Debby, son-in-law, Gregory, and by her five grandchildren.

Tags: teacher/educator, public service

Remembrances
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From Shannon Griscom
Oct. 26, 2021
She was indeed, a lovely woman. I enjoyed her in my book group, and also appreciated her good parenting to her daughters who were in my classes at Menlo-Atherton. No wonder they are fine ladies also. I remember Karen with joy and appreciation. Love t...
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