Janna Gilbert - Our neighbor

Karen, Todd & Zoe lived two floors above us on a beautiful tree-lined street on the UWS. At the time, we didn't have any kids and I marveled at how all three of you fit into that 1 bedroom apartment! We were on the ground floor so had the outdoor garden area had a kettle grill (I still remember Todd running down the one and only time we have ever used lighter fluid to kindly ask us to move the grill so napping Zoe would not have to breathe those terrible fumes! Never again.)

Anyways, one weekend we were planning to smoke some ribs. We ran into you guys on your way out on some adventure or errand, and told you to feel free to stop by later and join us. Hours later, as we were outside getting ready to eat, we heard some knocking above us. Saw you guys waving and pointing down with excitement. A few minutes later you joined us and Chris's brother & his family for some BBQ. Karen was sitting behind the action with baby Zoe, eating some veggies (I believe she proclaimed she was a vegetarian?). Then somewhere in the midst of all the gluttony, she realized the ribs were not beef "Those are pork? I can eat pork!". To which she jumped up and grabbed some ribs and I can still remember her eating with obvious delight those delicious vegetarian-friendly ribs :) 

After you moved out, I ran into Karen on the street about two weeks after I had our first baby. I was wandering around in a sleep-deprived, the world is totally different haze and ran right into Karen. The only thing I remember is after her asking what we were up to, I told her we had a baby and her response was "You made a whole human being since the last time we saw you?!?". I ended up getting to know her better while on maternity leave as she kindly worked me into her schedule for a Luke's lobster run to the UES (none on the UWS then), park mommy playdates, etc. After we moved to Brooklyn, we stayed in touch thanks to social media over the years. 

So while I didn't know Karen well, she was just one of those people who leaves a mark on everyone she meets - must be, because these memories have held on for 7 years now! My heart goes out to your whole family as you carry on without her here in person by your side. I learned a lot from watching her incredible journey these last few years - her joy, and her love of her children, her husband, her parents, her friends, her life. Forward motion. Get your butts checked. Never give up.

Melanie Vuynovich - From College

Karen and I met in college because we were dating the same guy - but neither of us knew it. He name was Marc and he was an RA in our Residence Hall, Read. One day, while I was in Marc's room and he left to take care of a a resident issue, I noticed his computer open to an email-in-progress,to a friend of his. In the email, he was lamenting that he had met not one, not two, but three lovely ladies and was currently dating them all but starting to feel a little big bad about this. I don't remember exactly how I tracked Karen down, but I vividly remember telling her what I had discovered in the Read cafeteria. We both decided to stop dating Marc and our friendship was born. She soon became my committee member for the Union Board Arts & Entertainment committee, lending her considerable talent as both actress and producer for a number of student-run theatrical events. And, the next year, took over the committee as Director. We frequently liked the same men and we joked that perhaps we should marry brothers considering our similar tastes. Our paths continued to cross throughout our lives, particularly in San Francisco. I stayed with her at her apartment near the ocean during my first ever visit to the city, and then later, after I'd been in SF for a few years, moved into her old room in a shared apartment when she moved away. During a business trip to New York when I missed my return flight home and couldn't get another one for three days, crashed with her and Todd, pre-kiddos, and we shared a lovely, impromptu long summer weekend on the one weekend that summer she and Todd had no plans. Yes, I think the universe conspired. I was lucky enough to spend a few days with her in February 2015, just hanging out and helping with her day-to-day life: picking up Zoe from school, taking Tate to an art class, shopping for costumes, and going to a Monday-night benefit. The last time I saw Karen was during a photo shoot at the hospital, Rocky themed. We posed for pictures, played the Rocky theme song, and laughed with her more theatrically-inclined friends. Her eyes sparkled, her laugh was contagious, and her energy boundless. That's how I'll always remember her.

Christa Scott-Reed - Karen was my "daughter", and then my friend, my fellow "girl gang" member, and so dear to my heart

Dear Zoe and Tate:

I first met your mom when I was cast as her mother in a play in 2005! It seems a little funny because I'm only about 3 years older than her, but in "The Flid Show" I played her mom in flashback scenes - my scenes were in the 1960s and her scenes were in modern day. But though I played her mother, it wasn't long before she felt like a sister to me. She helped me plan my wedding (I copied the wedding color scheme from your mom and dad's gorgeous wedding!) and she even SANG at my wedding! She stood solo in the huge choir loft of the beautiful Marble Collegiate Church and closed the ceremony with "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." When your mom opened her mouth and started to sing in that glorious, soaring, angelic voice, everyone at the wedding was blown away. Our wedding video shows the pastor, gazing up at her, tears running down his face because he was so moved by her heavily singing.  

After we got married, Karen and I grew even closer, as did our husbands. We all lived on the Upper West Side and we did tons of fun stuff together, but one of the things that I hold special was that your mom came every single week with me to volunteer at a soup kitchen for needy folks. She even brought other friends. Is it weird to say we had a lot of fun there? Your mom could make ANYTHING a hoot. We had the best time wherever we were. 

Karen and I discovered we had a lot of special friends in common and before long a little core group of actor girl friends was forming. We decided should officially be a "girl gang". Your mom, me, Kelly McAndrew, Natalie Gold, and Charlotte Parry decided to call ourselves the "Fresh Face" gang (making fun of a feature on Broadway.com) and we had a gas whenever we got together, which was often. One time Karen, Nat, Charlotte, and I all piled into Karen's car (she very bossily told me I had to drive because she was pregnant) and drove to Baltimore to see Kelly in a show. We had a good old-fashioned slumber party girls' weekend (and that wasn't the only one we had). We sent ridiculous texts and emails and also supported each other when times got tough. At some point we started talking about "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and how Fresh Face gang should have something like that. That's how our own traveling pants support system got started. A certain pair of yoga pants was acquired and lo and behold, any time one of us particularly needed a lift, the pants magically arrived at our doorsteps, sent by the last gang member to have had them. Wearing them always helped.

Your mom and dad were beginning to think about starting a family and Kevin and I were too. I will never forget the day we came over to take your mom and dad to the park to play whiffleball (your dad is SO good at that!) with a big party of people, and before we left Karen and Todd joyfully and breathlessly, almost giggling, confided in us that they were pregnant with Zoe - and we were one of the first to know! It was amazing. Shortly after, we discovered we were pregnant with Owen! Because Karen was 6 months further along than me, she taught me everything she had already learned. And because it was Karen, she already knew a lot because she didn't mess around; everything she did, she did it right and did it the best. I gratefully gave myself over to her! She took me to the baby stores and literally told me everything to register for. She told me how to deal with morning sickness, she told me what prenatal classes to go to...I was pretty clueless and she helped me with everything! And of course she did all with good humor and fun. When you were born, Zoe, I went right to the hospital to see you and watch your mom and dad hold and love you. Because it was almost Christmas, I brought you an ornament for your Christmas tree. And of course Karen was one of the first people to come to the hospital to see Owen when HE was born! Not long after, we introduced you two babies and you have been great friends every since!  

Then of course came the wonderful appearances of Ethan and Tate - two more fabulous kids and more love for our families. When I look at all the pictures I have of Karen, all together, I am not surprised to see that so many of them are of her cuddling my kids as well as hers. We went on family trips together - twice we went to Cape Cod together (all arranged by your awesome mom, of course) and you kids had a ball playing and splashing and having your own slumber parties. In 2016, we all went to the Jersey Shore together for more beach and amusement park fun. The photos we have of Karen at the top of the huge ferris wheel there are some of my very favorite of her - she is literally on top of the world, and a bright, happy, shining light in the sky.

Many people will have told you how incredible your mom was when she got sick. How her humor and determination and wit and fun and smarts and love all defined how gracefully and creatively she faced that battle. It's all true. Like everything she ever did, she did it big. She was successful in everything she did. Find a great partner? check. Be a big Broadway actor? check. Make two of the most beautiful and sweet babies in the world? check and check. Fight cancer and become internationally famous for being incredible at it? CHECK. But her cancer certainly doesn't define her. Her powerful love and humor and talent and her ability to LIVE OUT LOUD in the world, making friends with absolutely every awesome person she ever met is what defines her for me. And her laugh. Oh, that laugh. That big wow of a laugh (how did someone with the soprano voice of an angel produce that teamster belly laugh??). I will miss that laugh - and her - forever. We could do a lot of crazy fun stuff - or just lay in bed and watch tv together. But I always loved being with her. And with you two. You two and your dad light up our lives so much. I'm so grateful Karen delivered you guys to us and I want to always know you.  

Love,
Christa

Roxana Ortega - San Francisco Theatre days and beyond

I met Karen in San Francisco, in the year 2000, doing the first play I was ever cast in called “Naked Truths.” It was an ensemble movement piece about eating disorders and, yes, it was as terrible as it sounds. But the gift of it was meeting Karen. 

I admired her immediately. Funny. Smart. Talented. Driven, but somehow totally laid back at the same time. I wanted to be like her. 

We did another S.F. play together -- Sunday on the Rocks, which, thank god, was a complete 180 from our prior nightmare. When she moved to go to grad school, she referred me to take over her day job as an Art Buyer at a digital marketing agency called Digitas. I didn’t even know what an Art Buyer was. She was so savvy!

She eventually went to N.Y. I eventually went to L.A. We talked on the phone and saw each other when we visited each other’s coast. It was always easy, fun, as if no time had passed. But time had passed. I watched her become a wife, a mother, a successful actress. She was beautifully ambitious. She always made me laugh and always laughed at herself…how she lost things, how she had “weak ankles”… She was a mess and together at the same time. 

I admired her. 

In September of 2015, my husband and I met her for a drink in New York. She had just had spinal surgery and showed up in a bright white neck brace, but somehow still looked N.Y. cool. At the restaurant, she kept grabbing her side and jokingly asking, “What organ is this?” We ordered rosé and googled organs, laughing. She somehow made everything, even a pain in her side, a delight. 

A few days later she texted me to say that pain was cancer. 

She said that our meet up that day was like a kind of bookmark for her life. I cherish it so much. Throughout her fight, we got closer. We exchanged silly videos and ridiculous made up songs. I was in awe of her humor, her will, her creativity, her grace.  

I admired her. 

I always admired her. 

And I always will.

Cheryl Hubbard - cousins

When I first saw the note from Todd, I thought to myself, "I wish I had a good photo to share!"  And then I remembered that I did!  These photos are from Karen's San Francisco days, circa early 2000s, I think.  I had recently relocated to Los Angeles and wanted to explore more of my new state, so Karen very kindly hosted me at her apartment so I could have a home base while checking out San Francisco.  I remember that she was very concerned about what she would make me for breakfast, because I had just received my celiac diagnosis and she did not feel confident about making scrambled eggs.  :)  She and Todd took me to the beach my last day there and the sea was a bit wild that day!  I love the photo of Karen with that beach foam, and I feel like the foam could be described in the way one might describe Karen-- out of the ordinary, attracts your attention, inspires you, and makes you laugh...

In loving memory from your cousin Cheryl

 

Richard Willett - We met when she was in my play THE FLID SHOW in New York.

Actress Karen Walsh was so good in my play THE FLID SHOW I kept forgetting she was American. To me she was always my Brit Brenda, the flashy dresser. On the last night of the run, she fought her way across a crowded barroom at Druids to grab my arm before I left and make sure I knew how much she had appreciated my work as producer and playwright. When I reminded her about this later, she didn't remember doing it. I suspect I am not the only one with an unforgettable Karen memory that to her was "nothing." Her struggle with colon cancer followed so close on the heels of my brother's struggle with the same disease that, in the toughest of life lessons, they seemed all at once to become a team of my most extraordinary and humbling teachers. God bless Karen and her beautiful family and all those friends like me on whom she left an indelible impression.

 

Allison Ratwik - I knew Karen before.....before others new she was great. But not before Todd knew she was great. Or her family.....

OK - so maybe a lot of people knew Karen was great by the time I knew her. But I like to think I was there at the ground floor. In actuality, I was maybe there on the 5th floor......or the 8th floor of her greatness.  

Karen and I worked together. Back when she worked in an office. Even so - she still stood out. Creative. Karen was our art buyer. OK - she was our assistant art buyer. And she rocked. She expanded the rest of our 20-something minds with exhibits - http://www.prisonersofage.com/home - like this one at Alcatraz. That's where I met Todd. We all went to a preview at night at Alcattraz. It was incredible and a moment I will never forget.  

I got to see her first act while we were in San Francisco, too. How did she have the time??

Fast forward. I was applying to business school there and trying to pitch myself to UNC. She was studying, performing with Tandy Cronyn and the 'Laramie Project'. Maybe we just say she was more successful than I was.  

Then - New York. Karen had Zoe, I had Walter. I took a cab across town.....got stuck in traffic underestimating the time ....but finally made it to this little wine bar and met Karen to talk about nothing in particular. Family, work, stuff.

Summary: Karen made little moments - unsubstantial moments - seem substantial. I loved and remember each one.  

Zoe and Tate, I'm sorry you didn't have more moments. You were robbed. You should've had more of them. The good news is that since each one with your Mom was so great -- you're way ahead of the rest of us. I hope for you that these stories of your mom (even those like this without much substance) give you something. A reminder. Such. A. Rockstar.

And she loved you more than anything. Your dad, too.

And now the rest of us, with our grief and love for your mom get to turn that love to you. We are in your corner. We are rooting for you. That you take this crappy thing that has happened to you and be as awesome as she was.

Kyra Miller Himmelbaum - Karen and I went to college together

Dear Zoe and Tate,

I write this for you to read possibly when you're older. Your mom and I were close friends when we were in college, in Indiana. We probably became friends at first because there weren't a whole lot of northeasterners going to school there. Or maybe it's just that Karen had, as everyone posting here will tell you, a tremendous gift for making friends. 

Karen was in the music school, but she spent a lot of time in the theater department; and I was majoring in theater but I spent a lot of time in the music school taking voice lessons. And we met when we were in an acting class together with a teacher we were both completely intimidated by but desperately wanted to please. Karen asked me out for coffee -- it seemed to be a strategy meeting of some kind, but I couldn't tell what we were strategizing about. All I know is that it seemed to have a feeling of complicity, "We're in this together so let's figure out how to make the most of it because this is hard." Totally from Karen; I was along for the ride. Even though I wanted to be an actress, badly, I didn't have her sense of the stakes being so high in this, our acting class, pleasing our teacher, making a mark, that it mattered, that HER work mattered and therefore mine did too because we were teammates. She was talented, smart, ambitious, brave in spite of her anxiety, able to make sense of complicated text -- I was delighted to be her scene partner, she made it easy to trust her. And to be ambitious. We picked a ridiculously hard/inappropriate scene for 18 and 19 year olds, Richard III Act 4 scene iv. I played Elizabeth, she played Margaret, and we teamed up with two other actors in the class -- Sunil, who played Richard and another girl, very pretty, whose name I now forget, all I know is she couldn't pronounce "Plantagenet," who played the Duchess of York. This was for our final. We rehearsed it to death. We were not going to make fools of ourselves -- though I'm sure we did....but our intentions were sincere and the work was real, we genuinely tried our hardest. We rehearsed ourselves into the ground. This also meant we sometimes met to "rehearse" over beers in my apartment (there's a picture somewhere, I will send it as soon as I can find it - we are blurry but in a very good mood for two enraged shakespearean dowagers). 

And then our paths diverged. She was focusing on singing back then and I was moving away from musical theater. There was less overlap in our groups of friends, and we drifted apart. I graduated a year before she did, and I didn't hear from her until 2004, when she moved to New York. I was getting ready to come back to the city; both of us were recent MFAs from different programs, she had married your dad....somehow she had found my parents' phone number in an old address book (gift for friendship, remember?) and was not shy about reaching out over the years and the distance to find out if we were still somehow on the same path, in the same place, and we were. And we started in the same place -- going to open calls, bitching about it afterwards, struggling to move forward in an impossible field. 

In the 13 years that followed, all I can tell you is that even though we arrived in New York with a similar set of tools, Karen created a career many an actress (including me) would envy. Without taking away from her singular talents for acting, which were considerable and also enviable in themselves, Karen's gift not only for making friends but keeping them, served her well as she navigated one of the most competitive jobs in the world. Anyone will tell you that this business is all about relationships, not just who you know, but who loves you, who you love, who thinks of you as being on their team, who relies on you. She was someone people trusted, not only for her humor, her talent, her bravery, but all these things combined -- she could bring it in an audition, she was fun to be around, so people wanted to be her friend, and people wanted to work with her. It was about the work, but also about everything else that she was. She knew it was important. She seemed to have no doubt that she had something important to give, and it was high stakes that she get to give it. She didn't shy away from it, she leaned into that desire -- forward motion.

In forging relationships, she was bold, she had faith in herself, she could approach anyone, thought of it as her job, yes, but also her joy: she genuinely, loved getting to know other people, finding out about them, investing in their joys and sorrows, supporting them in their difficulties, listening to them, making them laugh. At my wedding shower, Karen met my oldest friend in the world, and after the party, my friend said, "Who WAS that magic person? I *loved* her." There was no room for letting shyness rule the day, there was no point. But if you were shy yourself, she could draw you out and would. She was an extrovert's dream, but also an introvert's. I learned from watching her, though I am not naturally made this way. She inspired me to be braver than I am.

And from her diagnosis onward, she continued moving forward, making new friends every step of the way, engaging them, supporting them, asking for support when she needed it -- and those friends she'd made eagerly returned it because of who she'd been for them throughout her life. Her bravery in refusing to act like she'd gotten a shitty diagnosis was astonishing. She never let me see her grieve, she never showed me that it was going to slow her down or sap her spirit, even if it was hard or scary. Forward, forward, always. It was a good lesson, a brilliant one. If I'd been thinking ahead, I would have seen that spirit when we were 19, but no one looks that far down the road. I merely pass it on to you to add to the knowledge you have about your mom. And now I'm going to go find that picture.

with much love to both of you always,
Kyra

Jennifer Booth - high school

Karen and I went to Notre Dame Academy together. We sat by each other all 4 years in choir. We performed in the Spring musicals together. Our junior year, we did "Carousel". Karen was Julie Jordan, and I played her best friend Carrie Pipperidge. It wasn't hard to pretend to like Karen. She was such a likeable person. We would lament about our choir director, KJ (as we "lovingly" called him). She was always smiling and laughing during practices and rehearsals. We would chat while the altos sang (and sometimes get reprimanded for being a little too chatty).
It wasn't until after high school, when I could be a little more retrospective, that I realized the kind of person Karen really was. I had been a total diva. My studying vocal performance was classical focused. I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I knew I was great and that's all that mattered. But Karen, she loved to sing and perform. She always was looking for ways to improve, welcoming feedback. She just wanted the opportunity to do it. I remember a solo she did at a concert, this bluesy piece, called "Back on Bass" I think. It sounded so amazing! I was jealous. Why did she get to do such a cool song? I realized, later, that her ability to sing that type of song came from her feelings, her connection to the music. She didn't just sing the notes on a page, she performed the song. She was moved by the music and thus, moved her audience. I never had that. I never had that passion for the music. I became more and more impressed by who I realized Karen was. Her desire to perform elevated her performance. Her passion for music and theater emanated throughout her performance. I became proud of her. And I looked up to her. I hoped to someday find my passion and follow it, to work on it, to feel it throughout. Needless to say, the diva-ness has dissipated. Unfortunately, I can't say as I have found my passion yet, but I will keep searching, and use Karen as my role model.

Jessica Mazo O'Brien - Met her through Suzie Guillette

I am so incredibly sorry to hear about Karen. Todd - I had met you and Karen several times through Suzie around 2006/2007. You are two of the warmest people I have ever met. I was an aspiring actress myself back then and I was so inspired by Karen's talent and success. I remember Suzie calling me when Karen got the part in Suddenly Last Summer. We were so happy and excited for Karen. I remember Suzie and I driving out to see her star as Sally Bowles in Cabaret. It was such an amazing performance. I remember saying to Suzie afterwards, "I thought she said she didn't dance! She was amazing!!" 

I also remember you letting Suzie and I use your midtown apartment to get ready for a gala (for the non-profit we worked at) and I had forgotten a scarf (I think it was a scarf) there. Karen used it a lot until she returned it to me through Suzie and when I saw her at one of Suzie's parties she told me she missed it. I thought that was funny. I should have let her keep it! 

I will remember Karen and family in my thoughts always. xo

Valerie Fenton - Notre Dame Academy

Processing the loss of my high school friend Karen to cancer. 

I am beyond angry, Karen. I really thought that even with the diagnosis, that you were the one to beat that Monster -- your defiance, your laughter in the face of it, the positive energy you surrounded yourself with -- friends, family, colleagues, and creativity. Now I regret not telling you that after experiencing some red flags, I got a colonoscopy recently -- because you and your work to highlight the increase in young people getting colon cancer, lit a fire under my figurative and literal bum to take my health seriously. I took my health more seriously because of YOU.

I hadn't seen Karen in years, but when we were in high school, she was my point of reference at that young age for what an actress should be. Oh, I looked up to her.... Her honesty onstage. Her connection with her scene partners. She listened. She responded. She existed in the moment. She was real. Karen, I think you played a part back then in the actress I am today.

Thank you for your professional inspiration when we were teenagers, and your life-saving inspiration decades later. The world is SO MUCH BETTER with you having been in it.

To everyone reading this -- a reminder: Life. Is. Short. Find your bliss. Take nothing for granted. MAKE AN IMPACT on your world -- your society, your community. Leave this world better off than how you found it.

And in Karen's name, Check Your Bum!! We are dying younger and younger from colon cancer. Recognize the warning signs that something may not be right, and do not ignore them! The people who love you will thank you for it.

#TheLegacyofKarenWalsh #80by2018

Mary Doroshenk - Fellow cancer advocate, Karen spoke at some of our events to promote CRC screening

As the director of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, I had the privilege to meet Karen when she spoke at two of our events. She wowed us all with her humor, bravery, inspiration and beauty. Last Friday, we shared your family’s tribute to Karen with our colleagues. Here is just some of what they had to say:

Dr. Susan Peterson of MD Anderson: Thanks for sharing this sad news. Karen's courage and commitment reaffirm our efforts in colon cancer prevention.

Jo-Ellen DeLuca of United Ostomy Associates of America and CRC survivor: Karen will be much missed, leaving a hole in our midst. I picture her taking snapshots of Heaven of those gone before! Fly high, Karen!

Dr. Jon Greif California’s Colorectal Cancer Coalition: That’s so very sad. Karen was the absolute highlight of this year’s conference, an inspiration to us and a joy to all who had the privilege of seeing her perform. Please pass our condolences on to her family and friends.

Debbie Kirkland of ACS: Amazing and inspirational woman!

Erica Breslau of National Cancer Institute: What a beautiful tribute about Karen and I thank you for sharing the sad news with us. We need a thousand more with Karen’s courageous voices for this insidious disease. She was a brilliant and wonderful survivor who will be missed by many. Thank you for bringing her into our lives in 2016.

Dr. Beth McFarland of American College of Radiology: We are so privileged to have had her presence at our meeting. Truly a remarkable fight she fought. I will always remember her. Prayers to her family and friends who were so touched by her.

Marta M. Sánchez Aracil of the University of Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center: I had the honor of being in the 2016 NCCRT and enjoyed her energy and experience. It is sad to lose someone from this terrible disease. She was young, talented. I hope her testimony and example may save lot of lives. My prayers and thoughts are with her family.

Karen made a difference, and we were so grateful to have had the chance to know her. Our sincerest condolences to you and your family.

Ryan Cunha - Grew up with her in Littleton, MA

I have been privileged to have known Karen almost my whole life. We played together often from around 3 to 8 growing up in Littleton, MA. It was a great childhood there and some of my first and best memories are playing at the lake, the playground at the Walsh's home. From an early age she had a charisma that drew people to her. It certainly drew me. Looking back it doesn't surprise me that she became an actress. We often pretended to be superheroes or play house.  
Although distance and the different paths our life took caused us to not see each other often, I always looked forward to spending time with and catching up on our lives. It always seemed like we could pick up right where we left off even if it was years in between seeing each other. I'll always remember her smile, laughter and unbreakable positive spirit.

Pia Days - UNC Chapel Hill Professional Actor Training Program-MFA

Where do I begin? For starters, I first met Karen at Chapel Hill. My first memory of her was her audition. She blew it away! I even questioned why she even needed grad school. She was just that fierce. Then, I began to know her and how meticulously she trained for everything. Not only was she a powerhouse actress, she was a trained vocalist too! There was no fudging it with her. She put in the work. To even be in her stratosphere, you had better try to best. Then, to know her as a friend and classmate, I knew that she longed to learn. She longed to turn every stone. She made us all grow.

Then, there was silly Karen. The girl I cackled with while getting pedicures in New York. The girl I tried to teach urban slang, particularly, "I'm down wit dat.", hand gestures and all. So, she didn't perfect it. But, she kept trying. That was Karen. Even if it wasn't in her comfort zone, she definitely was going to try, then laugh, then try again. Which brings me to Todd.

She wasn't a runner. She actually didn't like it much at all, but I remember her telling me a story of how she knew that Todd was an avid runner. So, she bought tennis shoes and joined him for runs to get to know him. See, if there was anything she was going to fudge it for, anything that she was going to blindly sprint towards, it was love. And well, it worked! She hooked him and then ditched those shoes, for good. Well, she picked them back up eventually towards causes that she cared about, but it began with Todd.

If there's anything that Zoe and Tate should know, it's that she has always been a fighter, hard worker; professional, witty, present and steadfast. She fully embraced each day and challenge head on, in her own charming way, connecting with each person and situation presented to her. She was brave and valiant. She was a champion striving towards an obstacle where most would crumble. If there was anything to be done, she was the one without hesitation that would see it to fruition. She did everything possible to live her best life. She lived her life with love. 

The CD from her wedding plays over and over again in my mind, as it did in my car, traveling cross country after graduation. "Blackbird Singing In The Dead of Night" and her own poignant rendition of "Waitin'" is how I will remember her; through song, cherished memories, her smile and beautiful eyes.

Continue to live each day fully, learning, embracing life and your surroundings. Continue to be your very best, as Karen did so very well.

Liza Skinner - We went to high school together - did shows together and I did date Mike for a bit- so I had many times at the Walsh house.

Karen was pure joy and I will never forget her smile or fantastic laugh. Or the way she sang "What's the Use of Wondering" As Julie Jordan in our high school musical,Carousel.

This was my Facebook post about Karen. Bob was kind enough to ask me to include it here. 

Everyone has people in their life that they may have lost touch with or really only know them via facebook these days. 
I have many people that fall under that category. I am sad that I have lost touch with them but so so grateful that via Facebook I get to see glimpses of their lives- their life events, kids, food, or just the thoughts they want to share that day, that moment. 
I love that. I am cheering you on via facebook and in my thoughts and heart. Because if you know me, or have ever known me, I hope you know you are forever in my heart. Forever. Every moment we spent together be it one of my best or not- I am grateful for it. Grateful for you.

Also throughout one's life you find people that just make you smile, and show you what joy, kindness, and friendship are all about. That no matter the last time you saw them, spoke with them, just the thought of them leaves you warm and fuzzy inside. You just have to smile. They make life better
Mr. Rogers would call them "helpers", I think.
Well, the world lost one of those special helpers a few days ago.

Her name was Karen Walsh. She was a joy and light in this world. She was a wife, mom, daughter, sister, Broadway actress, and a great advocate for getting people to get screened for colon cancer. She documented her chemo sessions with fantastic photos that inspired us all and raised awareness.

I hadn't spoken to her in years but I with every Facebook post of hers I read, I felt that connection that started in high school, where we met. We performed together in the school plays and musicals. I spent a good amount of time with her and her family over my high school years. Their home was a favorite hang out spot for all the Walsh kid's friends. It was a home full of laughter, kindness and joy.

Over the years, we kept in touch and she vouched for me and got me a spot to audition for UNC at Chapel Hill, her alma mater.
Then she came and brought people to my graduate showcase. Our last time meeting was about 8 years ago. We grabbed lunch around Times Square while she was understudying on Broadway. She took me backstage and showed me around a bit.
It was awesome.

You see that was Karen- it didn't matter how long it had been since you had seen her she was would just open up her heart, home, or current theater and bring you around to meet people and make you feel wonderful the whole time. She did it all with such joy, grace and kindness. There is that warm fuzzy feeling I mentioned earlier. I can't help but feel it when I think of her. It is that feeling she gave to us all, that we will carry around forever. I hope to share it with the world. She gave me, us, that. She made and makes me want to be a better person. I can only hope to have the courage, honesty, joy, humor, presence she had. It has changed me forever.  

So with her departure, this loss is felt deeply by so many.  
We lost a true helper, true talent, and true friend. And I can only imagine the loss felt by her family and close friends.  
I offer my deepest condolences. You are in my thoughts and prayers. And I know words are inadequate but I just wanted you to know that knowing Karen was a great blessing for so many.  
She changed the world and made it a better place. 
I am forever grateful. 

I am will post the link to donate to her fund. It will help cover the costs of her medical bills that were not covered by insurance and help her family.

Thanks for reading this. Today hug your loved ones and as Karen told us all, check your bum!

Becky Baker - Becky and Karen met doing Suddenly Last Summer at the Roundabout Theatre

When Karen and I were doing Suddenly Last Summer for the Roundabout Theatre Karen, of course, brought a Scrabble game to the dressing room. The cast immediately bonded over trying to kick each other's butt at scrabble. It remained Karen's and my passion whenever we could play!!! She turned me on the the phone app so we could play any time!!! And to Words With Friends!!! I thank her for so many gifts that she added to my life. FUN was her priority!!!!!

Stephanie Hughes - Fempire

God dammit. When we birthed Fempire with a gaggle of gals around my diningroom table, the hope was that we'd bring like-minded women together. Women who inspired each other, supported each other and made each other laugh in the best and worst of times. Today the group has over 17,000 women and Karen touched us all with her posts, her championing and her bravery. Karen was a Femp on every level. So strong and so fucking inspiring. I'll never understand why this world takes so many amazing people from us. I struggle with it daily and today we feel like we got kicked in the stomach. We'll miss Karen and are we're all so eternally grateful to her for showing us all how to be better, how to be brave and how to simply be. Fuck Cancer.

Margaret Cunha - Karen and I grew up together (earliest years).

These last days I have felt a deep sense of loss and a of heartbreak for people I have known my whole life. I was a baby when my brother began playing with Karen regularly. My mom has said that my brother always wanted to play with Karen, not anyone else (for maybe his years from 3 to 7 or 8).

I was lucky enough to be part of the group of Karen, Matt, Mike and my brother as I grew up. Lucky most especially because I learned at an early age how a girl can be powerful, smart, funny, unpredictable, spontaneous, and always loving. And Karen was loved by my brother and I for it. I remember feeling protected by her, and also this incredible admiration. She could do and say anything. She was incredibly fun to watch, which I did a lot of. I so wished that she was more my friend than my brother's...

However, I am so happy for my brother. I am so incredibly happy for him that he had this amazing friend nearly HIS whole life. I am so grateful for Karen's friendship for my brother. I think he learned so much from being her friend. And I am just honored to have continued to stay in her circle to this day.

To Ann, Bob, Matt, and Mike - I love you all. My memories of being in your home when I was small are wonderful. I felt loved and cared for by all of you. And we laughed a lot. Your family has the best collection of laughs. We laughed often. You all taught me something about the power of laughter.

I may not have a funny story to tell but know that my strongest memory of our families being together is this collective memory of many, many moments of laughter. Missing you all right now. My love to all of you.

Lisa Humphries - The Fempire

I never was fortunate enough to have met Karen in real life, but her life and her spirit greatly impacted my life and the life of my niece. My niece was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, at the age of 9, in March of 2012. She relapsed twice, and, after spending 8 and a half months straight in-patient, she passed away this past January, shortly after turning 14. I shared each and every one of Karen's *chemo pictures* with my niece. Those pictures made my niece smile when nothing else would. They gave her hope, breathing life and strength into her fragile body. 

I am so sorry to hear of Karen's passing. The world is a bit more dull, a bit less fabulous without her. I firmly believe Chylee was waiting to welcome Karen to the after-party <3

Jackie Vanderbeck DiSalvo - We met through my husband Mike and I later became babysitter to Tate and Zoe until we moved away.

I met Karen Walsh at a bar on 9th Avenue after she and Mike had been readers together that day. Mike and I had just started dating so I was relieved to learn that this stunning, funny, intelligent, talented woman was married. Later, Karen became my monologue/audition coach and I became her babysitter.
She inspired me as a woman with young children who was also passionate about her work as an artist. She could acknowledge how difficult the balance was but you'd never know it by the look on her face, as she conquered it all in her high top platform sneakers.
Her legacy as a cancer fighter: full of grace, humor, love, courage, and compassion to bring awareness to help others, will stay with me, our community and beyond. To me, Karen is the real Wonder Woman.