Karen Jennison

Karen M. Jennison

Monday, December 9th, 1940 - Monday, August 10th, 2020
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Karen Jennison passed away at home August 10, 2020, in Greeley, CO.

Karen Marie Jennison was born in Scott City KS on December 9, 1940, growing up with family in Healy, KS. Her father was president of three different banks, and served in the Kansas House of Representatives several years, once as Speaker of the House. Karen’s mother was educated and a teacher.

Karen was always a strong believer in education. She became an avid reader early in life, and maintained this habit of education through diverse reading to the end of her life, with a personal library collection that proved its value to her.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree at the University of Kansas, her master’s degree from the University of Washington, and her PhD from Washington State University, she became a professor of Sociology, for more than 40 years at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, with some time as chair as well as assistant dean of that department, achieving status as Professor Emeritus in 2015. Karen met her husband, Kenneth Albert Johnson, while at Pullman, WA, and they married in 1969.

Karen and Ken as sociologists loved to engage in the activity of social research, resulting in their separately and together publishing and presenting numerous papers in the United States and abroad many years. Late in life together they so very much enjoyed travel all over the world for what could be gathered both in education and their pleasure.

Following Karen’s discovery of ovarian cancer on her last trip together with Ken in 2016, Karen signed herself into the best health care possible. With Ken’s passing the following year, Karen became more socially involved in various support groups, with many befriending her along the way. She attended and was active at Foundations Church in Loveland. She gave both time and talent to the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra Guild and the Assistance League of Greeley, and was faithful to UNC’s Cancer Rehabilitation Institute. Karen became quite a philanthropist in her last years, giving her support especially to higher-level education and cancer research, including the UNC Foundation and the endowment of professorship at UC Health/Anschutz directed to the study of women’s cancer.

Preceding Karen in death were her parents, Robert Herlan and Tillie Henrietta (Young) Jennison from Healy KS; brother Paul Schuyler Jennison of Concord CA; and husband Kenneth Albert Johnson of Greeley.

Memories and tributes can also be shared through Adamson Life Celebration Home, at

Life Celebration Memorial will be held at 9:30 AM, Thursday, August 27 at Adamson Life Celebration Home, 2000 47th Avenue in Greeley, Colorado.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Thursday, August 27th, 2020 | 9:30am
    Thursday, August 27th, 2020 9:30am
    Adamson Celebration Center
    2000 47th Avenue
    Greeley, Colorado 80634
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Thursday, August 27th, 2020 |
    Thursday, August 27th, 2020
    Linn Grove Cemetery
    1700 Cedar Avenue, Greeley
    GREELEY, CO 80631
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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The Johnson family and Melissa sent flowers to the family of Karen M. Jennison.
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DeAnne Lear

Posted at 12:27pm
It was good to get to know you, even if briefly, in a Women's Bible Study at Foundations Church.
May you rest now in Peace in our Savior, Jesus, for eternity...and I plan to meet you again.

Deb Bonkiewicz

Posted at 03:49pm
I met Karen in the back room at the Bargain Box Thrift Store owned and operated by the Assistance League of Greeley, where we volunteered. But I really got to know Karen while working with her in the book department. She was very knowledge about all kinds of books except children’s books. She and I bonded over books. My experience raising three daughters and working/volunteering in elementary libraries provided the small piece of library knowledge she needed. Karen had so much knowledge of literature and made the book section of our thrift store shine! People came in to shop in her book department. She was diligent and never backed down in her constant pursuit to improve her department. She was known as the tiny lady who could pack the book boxes so heavy no one could lift them. Her response “I can lift them, it’s fine!” I finally brought in a scale so she could weigh the boxes so they did not exceed the maximum weight requirement. She was definitely a strong woman in every way.
After reading her obituary, I realized I didn’t really know Karen at all. She was so much more than I realized in my short encounter with her. What a brilliant, multi-faceted woman: a PhD in sociology, a highly regarded professor at UNC, a published writer, and a world traveler. She didn’t share much with me about her past, but she did tell me a little about her husband and his passing. It was obvious they had a wonderful life together. I personally was very enriched the short time I worked with her and wish I had gotten to know her better. She definitely had “broad shoulders” and took on life without fear or hesitation. Karen, I will miss you. May you Rest In Peace in Heaven with your husband and family. My deepest sympathy, Deb Bonkiewicz, friend and co-volunteer 🙏✝️🌈💞

The Johnson family

Posted at 10:55am
From Sonnys Family- his nieces, nephews and cousins. You were such a traveler. May this last journey bring you home to rest in peace. Much love.
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Posted at 10:45am
From Carolyn, Melissa, and Mary, your sisters in love and family. We are sure Sonny was there to greet you with open arms. Blessed journey. Rest now
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Ila Leavy

Posted at 11:59am
I met Karen as she joined my Life after Loss group through Adamsons. We saluted her for her teaching career and helped her find life-giving opportunities after her husband Ken's death. It was a pleasure to know her in that group. Ila Leavy

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