Dr. Karen Cárdenas, 80, of Tulsa, OK, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, having been visited by a parade of family and friends. Born in 1943, she was the daughter of Vincil and Rosemary Hardy (Nicholas).
Karen was a National Merit Scholar finalist and applied her bright intellect to her career-long passion for education and cross-cultural connection through language. She received multiple degrees, including her Doctorate in Spanish Language &Literature from University of Kansas. She rose to Department Chair at South Dakota State University, was a published author (Para Empezar text book and many essays), ACTFL & NCSSFL member, an Honorary Member of the Golden Key National Honor Society, and a Board Member of The Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages where she helped shape language in higher education policy for the state and region.
Karen's influence extended well beyond her professional achievements. As an ardent human rights activist, she generously donated time and financial support to organizations fighting for equality and giving voice to the voiceless, most notably with The League of Women Voters. She was the best kind of thorn in Oklahoma newspapers Letter to the Editor's sides, appearing in Tulsa World LTE's many times.
Her legacy is a multi-layered tapestry of her passion for learning and love of her family. Add to that, an adoration of animals (especially kitties - taking in nearly every stray she encountered), knitting, reading, puzzles, cards, music, piano and the performing arts. Karen's keen wit and sense of humor often made those near laugh till they cried. She was kind, cared deeply, and will be dearly missed by all who knew her as a daughter of Pryor, a true friend, a loving aunt, a treasured sister, a caring mom, and most of all one of the most generous and irrepressible spirits you’d ever have the honor to know. She was truly a force for good.
A memorial service will be held at All-Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa on Thursday, May 11th at 4pm CST. To join remotely via Zoom or leave her family a message, please visit her Guestbook at www.shipmansfuneralhome.com
She is survived by her son, Joseph Cardenas and his wife Roxanna of Seattle, Washington; brother, Jack Hardy and wife Mary Helen of Pryor, Oklahoma; and sister, Rita Woodall and husband Steve of Cheshire, Connecticut.