Karen Wojda
Karen Wojda
Karen Wojda
Karen Wojda
Karen Wojda

Obituary of Karen R. Wojda

Karen Roberta Wojda, loving wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister, aunt, grandaunt, and friend to so many, passed away on June 28, 2024, after a short and valiant battle with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. She is survived by daughter Leah, now of Rochester, son Kevin and his wife, Corinne, of Alexandria, VA, grandsons Riley and Jack, and members of what the family affectionately called “The Compound”—sisters Kathleen and Kim, nieces Kirsten, Kara, Kyle, and Jill, nephews Rick and Jeff, and the wonderful grandnieces and grandnephews that called her “Fake Grandma” because she loved them all so much: Casey, Connor, Camryn, Charlie, and Keaton (and the future “Baby G”). 

Karen was born in Jamestown, NY on December 3, 1942, to the still-missed Gordon and Ida-Grace Parsons. She graduated from Southwestern Senior High School in 1960 and went on to receive an Associate’s Degree in Retailing from the University of Buffalo in 1962, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Buffalo State University in 1965. She taught art in the West Irondequoit school district before meeting her husband, Ron, in a bar where he gave her a dime and told her to call him when she had the time to speak with him. The couple settled in Rochester in 1977 where they would both live out their lives. While she decided to be a stay-at-home mom, she was always on the go, helping at Pioneer Days at the kids’ elementary school, hanging wallpaper, being a Cub Scout leader, painting, playing tennis. In line with her thirst for knowledge and her inability to sit still with her kids out of the house, Karen went back to school and received her Master’s Degree in Art Education from Nazareth College in 1990. Ron passed away in 1993, but Karen went on to live an incredibly fulfilling life with her constant energy, independent spirit, and her desire to help children. In her 50s, she took her talents to Primary Project, a national evidence-based program that helps children in Pre-K through third grade adjust to school, gain confidence, and social skills, and focus on learning; she would work with at-risk kids at Fyle Elementary School in Rush-Henrietta, NY. This initiative, the colleagues she worked with there, and the children she met greatly influenced and affected her. She “retired” for good in 2008, dedicating the rest of her life to providing guidance and strong opinions to family and friends over coffee or drinks; there was no opinion we valued more than our mom’s.

She took her role as first born/eldest sister seriously; she was reliable, responsible, and dependable, (and outspoken and sometimes bossy), but she took care of everyone and wanted to ensure everyone in the family was okay. She joked that “she was the smartest person she knew,” but she was the smartest person we knew. She could rattle off facts and figures, talk politics, design a kitchen, identify what bird was outside your window, and tell you how to make the best pie crust. We always wondered when we would inherit her wide breadth of knowledge. And she was so proud of her family. The “coffee ladies” knew more details about our lives than they probably wanted; she would always want her now-middle-aged children to join her at coffee so she could “show us off.” 

There was nothing that Karen couldn’t or wouldn’t do with, or for, the people she loved. Watching a countless number of Riley and Jack’s soccer games whenever she could. Traveling to over 40 countries around the world with friends and family. Shopping with Leah and her sisters, likely for things with which to decorate somebody else’s house. Axe throwing (at 80). Playing bridge multiple times a month in numerous friend groups. Impressing the 30-person tour bus with her personality and stamina when she took her immediate family to Italy last summer in celebration of Riley’s (and, she added, maybe Jack’s future) high school graduation. Repairing/renovating/designing/building/decorating her kids’ and nieces’ and nephew’s homes. Inventing scavenger hunts to excite kids about finding their birthday presents. Making Kevin and Corinne’s neighbors jealous by preparing dinners or mowing the lawn or doing the laundry when Kevin and Corinne had infant kids…and when the kids were older, if we’re honest. Supporting local theater at Geva. Going to water aerobics and then coffee with all her friends (she had a busier, and better, social life than we did). Scouring the MLS listings for houses that Leah might be interested in buying and then weighing in on them once she saw them in person. Building gingerbread houses and baking cookies at Christmas with all the kids. Every year, selling her art, along with sisters Kim and Kathleen, at the Corn Hill and Clothesline Art Festivals. Forcefully detailing her fervently anti-Trump/pro-democracy positions, mostly to Leah, Kevin, and Corinne, who were right there with her. Hanging wallpaper—on a ladder…just 6 days before her death—in her niece’s nursery in preparation of her new baby’s arrival at the end of the month.

Karen was an absolute force of nature. As everyone would expect, she was an inspiration to us in the short time after her diagnosis and likely buoyed our sprits more than we buoyed hers. While the diagnosis finally explained the incredible fatigue and shortness of breath she had experienced for so long, the end was incredibly sudden, and we know it did not afford many of her friends and neighbors and loved ones ample opportunity to support her as you may have wanted to. Please know that our mom was so grateful to know so many good people for so long and we truly appreciate the fact that she was loved and will be missed by so many. 

True to her unwavering belief system, Karen did not want anyone to hold calling hours or have any type of service; we will be having a celebration of life in December. In lieu of flowers, the family offers the following recommendations if you wish to honor Karen:





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