I hope this is appropriate. It’s not exactly the type of thing you call a grieving family to discuss. But because she’s one of my biggest fans, this is the only way I can say goodbye.
Karen Marie Rolstad died at 11:11 am on Sunday. She was originally diagnosed with endometrial cancer in April and due to other complications that diminished her health, she chose to die under the Death with Dignity Law in Washington state at the age of 74. She was surrounded by family and friends and is survived by her partner Jan of 38 years and their retired show dogs Mario and Tomas.
Karen is the reason I advise young journalists to respond to their readers.
Nearly a decade ago Karen wrote me the simplest email asking to meet. She didn’t want much, just to talk to me about the Storm and my writing. Karen thought I was a fine writer, probably to the annoyance of my former editor Cathy Henkel and current sports editor Don Shelton — the recipients of emails wanting more flattering pictures of the players and better space for stories of the only modern-day champion in Seattle. She’s a ferocious reader, so I was constantly flattered at my inclusion in her notes.
Karen loved the Storm and its example of strong female role models playing a sport Jan, the athletic one of the two, could never dream of doing because of the era they lived. The three of us met at places like Cafe Flora, Coastal Kitchen and B&O;Espresso to talk. The favorite spot was Racha Noodle & Thai Cuisine in Queen Anne. Karen always carried lists of questions and sometimes books for me to read on little strips of paper. This was in addition to the email exchanges we had about life and the team. And infrequent chats at games. Until recently, Karen and Jan owned Storm season-tickets diagonally from press row. She was easy to spot because of her pouf of white hair and old school BluBlockers to protect from the KeyArena lighting.