Karen Elizabeth Driscoll 1944 - 2020

Karen Elizabeth Driscoll made her final excursion from the shores of Newport, Oregon, on August 3, 2020. She spent her last moments surrounded by family and in her own bed. Born September 23, 1944, in Wellsville, New York, Karen moved as a youth to Cleveland, Ohio, where she graduated from Regina High School in 1961. Being someone who was happiest either learning or teaching others around her, she immediately continued her formal education, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from Kent State University, then moving to Boston to work at Harvard Medical School. In Massachusetts, she met and married David Delory Driscoll Sr., her husband of 27 years and the father of her three children. In the 1970s the Driscolls moved West, first to the Plains of Great Falls, Montana, before settling in the plush, green center of the Willamette Valley, Yamhill, Oregon! Before retiring to Newport, Karen lived for a decade in McMinnville, Oregon, where she is survived by many close friends, the closest of whom, Charlie and Jeri Laughlin, were her neighbors and best friends in both Yamhill and McMinnville.

Karen was an inspiration and educator to most people with whom she interacted. During her time in Yamhill, she was a Cub Scout den leader, volunteer TAG Science Program administrator (for which she wrote the curriculum), substitute high school chemistry teacher, 4-H Club leader, and FFA livestock judge. Yamhill is a small community. One would be challenged to find a single person who did not learn something from Karen Driscoll well enough to recount it to you today. This continued into her retirement in Newport, where you could often find her participating in guiding whale watches and staunchly defending hatching black oystercatchers.

In addition to being a mother, mentor and educator, Karen ran Driscoll’s Sheep Station for 15 years in Yamhill, where she was a breeder of Suffolk sheep and helped introduce the new breed of Finnsheep to the Pacific Northwest. Karen was also a very competitive tri-athlete, often winning or placing in the masters division of the USTS Sprint Series, and even completing a half-Ironman in Olympia, Washington, during the 1980s. In this she was certainly a trail blazer, as this was a new sport at the time and completely foreign to the rural farming community of Yamhil; one just did not see many spandex-clad women out for 60-mile training rides back then.

After her children had departed Oregon for college on the East Coast, Karen herself returned to college, becoming a Clinical Laboratory Scientist. She cultivated a very successful career at Oregon Health Sciences University in the Core Lab, where she, of course, volunteered, teaching medical students phlebotomy in addition to her lab work. She worked at OHSU for nearly two decades, until her retirement in 2015 to Newport, Oregon. 

Once retired, Karen fully embraced her lifelong love of marine science, passionately volunteering to stewardship of the Pacific Ocean, marine reserves preservation, and ecological education. In just five years of volunteering for Blue Water Task Force, CoastWatch, Surfrider Foundation, the Audubon Society, and Neighbors for Kids, Karen became fundamental in the protection and community education of the Otter Rock Marine Reserve. To honor her legacy, family asks that, in lieu of flowers, those who wish to take action in her memory donate to Friends of Otter Rock at https://oregon.surfrider.org/otter-rocks-best-friend-celebrating-the-life-of-karen-driscoll/

Taking her cancer diagnosis as an opportunity to embrace spontaneity, rather than an inevitable end, Karen traveled to Africa, Tahiti, Mexico and Hawaii, all while enduring cancer. She swam with whale sharks, released ridley turtles, and defied the odds to her dying day.

Karen is survived and will be loved and missed every day by David Delory Driscoll Sr.; her seven grandchildren; and three children, David Delory Driscoll Jr., Kevin Patrick Driscoll, and Erin Elizabeth Wisner; but especially so by her longest standing accomplice and best friend in life, her sister, Marcy Cannata.

Karen will be celebrated beachside at Otter Rock on March 21, 2021.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable