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Karen Charleen Gerard

September 13, 1968 April 11, 2009
Karen Charleen Gerard
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Obituary for Karen Charleen Gerard

Karen Charleen (Dzagulones) Gerard, age 40, and a resident of Milford, passed away on April 11, 2009, after a long battle with juvenile onset diabetes. Karen was born in Detroit, and grew up in Farmington Hills. Diagnosed as a child with juvenile diabetes, she never let her limitations stop her. She graduated from Farmington Harrison High School , Class of 1986, and would go on to attend Macomb Community College, where she received her degree in Physical Therapy. She also received training in Therapeutic Touch Therapy to further her education. Diabetes struck her at age three and with her resolve, even at this early age, it only became a complication, not a limitation to the balance of her life. The ravages of her diabetes robbed Karen of her vision at eighteen years old. Diabetes dealt her another blow when she was stricken with kidney failure. After two aborted transplant operations the road to recovery was opened with a donor kidney from her sister.

Karen was a local celebrity for having been chosen, along with her fiance, to be featured and married on The Regis and Kathie Lee Show in New York City. She contributed to FOX 2 Rob Wolchek's "Hall of Shame" series by posing as a contestant in a photography contest. The Oakland Press and Hometown Newspaper chronicled her life with the Leader Dogs for the Blind and her various accomplishments and independence as a blind woman in a sighted world. Karen never felt like a celebrity, she felt the contributions were meaningful to others and that was her goal.

Karen loved animals, and especially loved her Leader Dogs, golden retrievers, Moon, Logan, and J.R. Karen had also adopted a Dalmation, Fred, and had she been able, would have adopted many more dogs.

Karen loved fashion and selected her clothes, shoes and jewelry with flair. The loss of her sight would not deter her from looking and feeling her best. She loved social gatherings and aside from family, surrounded herself with many great, faithful friends. She will always be remembered for her great laugh and smile.

Karen was not stopped by her illness, but challenged by it. She was an active member of the the Walled Lake / Wixom Lions Club and her positive attitude was an inspiration to all who came in contact with her. She proudly represented the Leader Dogs for the Blind by volunteering her time to teach awareness and help educate children about people with Service animals in local schools.

Karen was very close with her mother and her family and she will be dearly missed.

She is survived by her parents, Katie and Dave Stephenson of Milford; her sister, Laura Bandy; nephew, Derek; nieces, Jessica and Chelsea; Aunts, Jeanette, Patsy and many cousins and great, faithful, friends. She was preceded in death by her father, Tom Dzagulones, grandparents, Charleen and Alfred Rillo, Anna and Alex Dzagulones and her Aunt Sally.

A Funeral Service will be held at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty, Milford, on Saturday, April 18, at 11AM, with the Reverend Mark Jones officiating. Friends may visit Friday 3-8PM. Memorials may be made in her name to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. For further information please phone 248-684-6645.

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