Karen Marie (Gustafson) Eveland was born to Alget and Althea Gustafson on April 15, 1941 in Frederic, WI. The Gustafson families were farmers and Karen grew up as a country girl, learning the value of hard work and how to have fun in the process. She had the opportunity to live close to extended family and was nurtured in an environment of incredible love. Recently she enjoyed sharing stories of life with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. After attending the one room Karlsborg School from first through eighth grade she attended and graduated from Grantsburg High School in 1959.
Following high school Karen attended nurses training at Swedish Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis, where she graduated in 1962 with a three-year RN degree. It was there that she met Bruce. Bruce and Karen were married on February 23, 1963 and soon after moved to work at the hospital in Virginia, MN. Several years later Bruce and Karen returned to Backus where she secured a job at the Pine River Clinic. In 1975 Karen returned to school and completed a two-year Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program through the U of M. Karen served the Backus, Pine River and surrounding area for 32 years as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner. Karen was known by hundreds as “their doctor”. She often cared for people long after clinic hours, through phone calls and house calls. Karen’s love and concern for people was very evident. Her lifelong desire to learn led to additional degrees and she graduated from the College of St. Scholastica with a Bachelors Degree in 1996 and a Master of Arts in Nursing in 2000. She spent the last six years of her career working for the Veteran’s Administration in St. Cloud, MN.
In every area of her life Karen responded to people with wisdom and love. This was especially evident as a wife, mother and grandmother. She endeared herself to others because of her amazing level of compassion, humble spirit and deep desire for their best. Although she often appeared to be rather serious, her quietly mischievous and silly side were a delight to experience.
The communities of Backus and Pine River were very important to Karen and she was incredibly supportive of the school systems in Backus, both Backus Public School and more recently Foothills Christian Academy. She was active on the Board of Education for both of these schools over a number of years. Karen had the opportunity to call several area churches home. To those congregations she served as choir director, Bible study leader, Sunday school teacher, kitchen help, floral arranger, resident brownie baker and most important of all, prayer warrior.
Following retirement Karen continued to be active in church, volunteering for Lakes Area Pregnancy Support, gardening, reading, baking and enjoying time with family and friends. She lived a full life, choosing to love in the hard places, to walk by faith, to always hope and teaching us to do the same.
In her journal she wrote, “We have a purpose in living God’s love daily. Then know that God is faithful to keep us and to use our lives in a way to benefit others”. These were not mere words, but a mission that she lived. We will be forever changed because of her. Karen, while surrounded by family, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Sunday, May 3, 2020.
Karen is preceded in death by her parents, Alget and Althea and brother, Bob Gustafson. She is survived by her husband of 57 years, Bruce Eveland of Backus, MN; children Lisa (David) Krause of Monticello, MN and Brad Eveland of St. Louis Park, MN; sister, Kathy (Steve) Swanson of Apple Valley, MN; and three grandchildren: Ailia, Lawrence and Nelson Krause. Karen will be deeply missed by her aunts, sisters/brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
A Celebration of Life service will be planned in the upcoming months. Memorials will be forwarded to Foothills Christian Academy in Karen’s honor. Please share stories and tributes about Karen on this page or at https://www.forevermissed.com/karen-marie-eveland/about.
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