Obituary for Karen Nygren

Karen Nygren passed away peacefully at home in Tiburon on September 30th, 2013 at age 73, after a courageous struggle with ovarian cancer. She lived a very full and multifaceted life. Her motto was "Live Life with Purpose." Karen was involved and held many leadership roles with her community, in design, education, politics, transportation and the environment.

The daughter of Ben L. and Rosalind B. Goldman, Karen was born in Milwaukee, WI, on March 10, 1940. Karen grew up in Whitefish Bay and Fox Point, WI. She first attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison and later transferred and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Decorative Arts. She obtained a Life Time Elementary Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University. For over 35 years, Karen had a creative career in the interior design field as Karen Goldman Interiors and was certified as an IIDA. At the same time, she taught elementary school for eight years in the Laguna Salada School District in Pacifica.

Karen met her husband John while skiing at Lake Tahoe. After their marriage in 1970, they lived in Mill Valley, moving to Tiburon with their son Erik in 1984. Karen loved to swim, hike and travel the world.

Besides her husband, Karen is survived by her son Erik, her daughter-in-law Ksenia, and grandson Leif of Somerville, MA, and her sister-in-law Elenie Eliason (and husband David) of Green Valley, AZ. She will also be missed by her nephews and their wives: Steven Zitzer and Maria Nieto of Madrid, Spain, Gregory and Charmaine Zitzer of Petaluma, and Chris and Nancy Mayer, David and Amy Mayer, Steven and Jen Mayer, and Jeff Mayer, all of Milwaukee, WI. Her parents and sister, Barbarah La Bray, predeceased her.

She used her interest in education throughout her life to produce and coordinate many educational programs and events. During her son Erik's elementary and high school years, she was active in his school community as Mill Valley Park School's PTA After School Recreation Coordinator, Treasurer for Del Mar PTA and Redwood High School's Grad Night, Vice President and on the Executive Board of Redwood High School's PTA, and President of Sequoians (Redwood High School's Honor Society), among other things.

Her civic involvement began in 1986 as a Planning Commissioner for the Town of Tiburon. After eight years on the Planning Commission, she was elected for one term to the Tiburon Town Council and served as Mayor in 1994. During her time on the Planning Commission and Town Council, Karen was intimately involved in rewriting Tiburon's General Plan and Zoning Ordinances, which helped establish strong environmental guidelines for the town. She was instrumental in the building of Tiburon's new police station and town hall and played a significant role in the preservation of Marin County's Old St Hilary's Open Space Preserve. She also represented the town on the Marin County Council of Mayors and Council members, the Marin County Transit District as a director, Marin's Countywide Planning Agency, Marin's Congestion Management Agency, Marin's Hazardous and Solid Waste JPA, the Marin Community Foundation, and Marin County's School Board Association.

In addition to civic service, Karen was deeply involved in Marin's environmental community. A few of her activities were eight years on the Board of Directors of The Marin Conservation League, 11 years on the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club Marin Group, and a graduate (class 19) and Vice President of the Environmental Forum of Marin.

While working with each of these environmental organizations, she chaired or was involved with their transportation or land use committees. Until her final days, Karen followed Marin's transportation issues, speaking out to make others aware. Since 2004 she was the environmental community's representative to the Transportation Authority of Marin's Technical Advisory Committee.

Karen was appointed to the Fort Baker Ad Hoc Advisory Committee with the National Park Service because of her transportation expertise and helped determine its ultimate project, Cavallo Point. Karen also was the environmental community's alternate to the St. Vincent/Silveira Task Force.

Politics was always an interest to Karen and until her illness made her slow down, she was a District 3 Representative on the Democratic Central Committee of Marin.

Karen's contributions to our community will be missed. In-lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to an organization or cause you believe embodies Karen's interests. A private family service was held on October 2nd. A reception for a celebration of her life will be held on Thursday October 24th from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Spinnaker in Sausalito.