August 27, 1944 - March 15, 2021
On March 15, 2021, Karen Lee Buell, 76, passed away peacefully with her family at her side. She lived by the words of Mother Teresa, “If you are busy judging others, you have no time to love them.” Karen was born on August 27, 1944, to Arlene (Stewart) and John Taggart in Hillsdale, MI. In 1962, she graduated from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida. While at work making sandwiches next to her co-worker, Jerry Buell, she fell in love. She and Jerry eloped and were married on November 5, 1962. He was her one, true love. They moved to Jerry’s hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, in 1969, and purchased Bell’s Restaurant, later renamed Blondie’s Diner. Karen was known as Blondie from Blondie’s Diner where you, “Eat at Blondie’s, and diet at home.” She cherished her relationships from Blondie’s and thought of each person as extended family. Blondie's Diner was named the first “Small Business of the Year” by NMC, an award she valued. When Blondie’s closed in 1999, Karen became a teacher’s aide. Her fondest memories were working with the excellent staff at Sabin Elementary and the beautiful students with special needs at East Junior High. Karen greatly valued her conversion to Catholicism and raising her children in the Catholic faith. She enjoyed the many activities with her four children, including 4H, music, and athletics. She cherished the years spent at the Owl’s Nest, their home on Lake Leelanau, welcoming friends and family. Her many friends over the years were held dear, especially Bill and Karen, Connie, Pat, Shirley, and Terry. Karen, with warmth and generosity, shared her servant’s heart. Her desire to serve overflowed into the community. She started a still-thriving boot and mitten program, brought meals to the Carmelite monastery and families in need, took countless gifts to families on Christmas Eve, and served at the church food pantry. Jerry and Karen suffered the death of their 20-year-old son, Greg, who died of cancer. The joy of Greg’s life and the anguish from his death deepened their faith in God and their marital vows to one another. Saint John wrote, “The closer a husband and wife get to God, the closer they get to each other.” Karen treasured Jerry and their time praying daily, taking day-trips to explore different northern Michigan towns, attending county fairs, and singing to each other before bedtime. Karen's home featured a beautiful collection of Madonna vases and a prayer room for anyone wanting a quiet place to pray. She enjoyed reading and was a skilled baker adoring her title of Cookie Grandma. She prepared family dinners with joy and love, and she delighted in her children being around the family dinner table. She made each holiday and birthday a joyous celebration. Karen suffered for many years with health issues but found a way to greet each day with a smile and each person with kindness. She lived with her suffering the way she lived her life - with strength, dignity, joy, a lot of jellybeans, and, whether she could participate or not, ended every family gathering with the Hokey-Pokey. Karen was known as Blondie, Mom, Nina, Grandma, Mama-mama, Gram-Mama, Mumsy, Tutz, and Gert throughout the years, but the one she cherished the most was when Jerry called her, “Shug.” She cherished being a wife, a loving mother, a mother-in-law to her daughter and sons-in-law, and a grandmother to her grandchildren with whom she found complete joy. Rest in peace, Shug. Karen was preceded in death by her parents Arlene Milcer, and John Taggart, grandparents Evan and Vernus Stewart, and son Gregory. She is survived by her husband Jerry, children Kimberly Juodawlkis (Mark), Michael Buell (Mindy), and Jennifer Buell-Morgan (Branden), grandchildren Joshua Juodawlkis, Andrew Juodawlkis, Karissa Buell, Gabrielle Morgan, Aris Morgan, Brady Buell, Alexis Juodawlkis, Macgregor Buell, Grant Buell, and August Buell, cousin Milton Stewart (Martha), sister-in-law Chari Schmuckal (Milo), brothers-in-law Alan Buell (Sharon) and Phil Buell (Lonnie), and many nieces and nephews. Visitation for family and friends will be held on Friday, March 19, 2021 from 5 pm to 7 pm at St. Francis Catholic Church. The rosary will be prayed at 7 pm. The Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 11:00 am also at the church. Memorials may be directed in memory of Karen Buell to the Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools Scholarship fund for Gregory Alan Buell, the Traverse City Convent for the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecelia, or the Carmelite Monastery. The family is grateful for the incredible care given by Tonya, Catholic Annie, Amy, Linda, and all of Karen’s caregivers from Hospice of Michigan.
On March 15, 2021, Karen Lee Buell, 76, passed away peacefully with her family at her side. She lived by the words of Mother Teresa, “If you are busy judging others, you have no time to love them.” Karen was born on August 27,... View Obituary & Service Information
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