Karen Rose Parano, of Chester County, and formerly of Nesquehoning, PA, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, 7 July 2022 at home. She was the most beloved sister, devoted auntie, constant companion, and dearest friend to all.
She was born in Hazleton, PA, the daughter of Frank J. and Nancy Ann (Zolota) Parano, of Nesquehoning.
Karen attended the Panther Valley School District before graduating from Marian Catholic High School in 1985. Always an avid reader and writer, Karen first developed her love of writing as a high school correspondent for the Pottsville Republican. She loved learning Español at Marian and often said she learned more about proper conjugation in Spanish class than she did in English. She played the piano beautifully and devoted her Sunday mornings playing the organ at mass at Sacred Heart Church, Nesquehoning throughout high school.
She earned a degree in English from The Pennsylvania State University. While attending Penn State, she was a columnist for The Daily Collegian. She loved all things Penn State, raising money for the annual PSU Thon, and spending Saturday nights making music with the Phyrst Phamly. She made many lifelong friends during her school years and loved to attend PSU football games. She always said, “Once a Penn Stater, always a Penn Stater!”
She was a city girl at heart and loved living in the Philadelphia suburbs. It’s there where she met her longtime companion, Bill Rettew, who shared her love of travel and writing. She spent many years teaching catechism to the children of St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Wayne, Pa. and was a former board member for the IHM Center for Literacy.
Throughout her career as a writer, she worked for USA TODAY, Iron Mountain, Precyse Solutions and most recently the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia where she was proud to be a Vice Chair on the Diversity Council promoting equality, acceptance, and fair treatment of all people.
An avid reader, she enjoyed posting her book reviews on Goodreads and was a member of many “book groups” over the years. She loved staying connected to people and always sent personal handwritten notes through the mail to say hello, happy birthday or thank you—something she turned into an art form. She often reminded her sister that no matter how much time passes; it’s never too late to say hello or thank you.
For many years, Karen returned home every weekend to help care for her father in his later years of life. She always gave so much of herself, putting everyone’s needs in front of her own.
Karen strived to make sure people felt appreciated and remembered. She started a card ministry for the residents of Maple Shade Meadows Assisted Living in Nesquehoning where she would write friendly “thinking of you” messages and color pictures for residents who didn’t receive regular visitors or mail. She never wanted anyone to feel forgotten, especially in the Memory Care unit.
The greatest joy of her life was being auntie to her niece Gabriella and nephew Angelo, whom she loved and adored. She spent countless hours reading to them as kids and bought them any book they ever wanted. They knew when mom and dad said no, auntie would always say “yes”.
Karen is survived by her sister, Michelle, wife of Michael S. Greek of Nesquehoning, niece Gabriella, nephew Angelo, and close family members from the Zolota and Heckman families. She had many friends across the globe and had special bonds with Steph, Jenn, Avery, and Jayne.
Everyone who remembers her smile, her warmth, and love for life is asked to celebrate her in their own way, reading a good book, raising a glass in her memory, or doing a random act of kindness, as she so often did for those who least expected it.
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, July 23rd with a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:30 a.m. at The Shrine of St. Theresa of Lisieux, 15 E. Garibaldi Ave., Nesquehoning, with the Rev. Msgr. John B. McCann and the Rev.Robert George officiating. Interment at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Nesquehoning. A calling hour will be held from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at The Shrine prior to the Mass. Online condolences may be expressed at www.nalesnikfh.com Services and arrangements have been placed in the care of the Bruce A. Nalesnik Funeral Home, 57 W. Center St., Nesquehoning PA.
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