Cover photo for Karen Kay Stear's Obituary
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1949 Karen 2021

Karen Kay Stear

July 17, 1949 — August 14, 2021

Karen Kay Stear of Cozad passed away Saturday, August 14, 2021 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney at the age of 72.

Karen Kay Stear was born July 17, 1949 in Lexington, Nebraska to Carol and Norma (Block) Chittenden and an older brother, Gary. She was a proud Cozad resident her whole life, graduating from Cozad High School in 1967. She attended and graduated from Queen Ann Beauty School of Cosmetology in Kearney, NE, beginning a 45 year-long career as a hairdresser to many in the Cozad area. She married Bill Cover in 1971 and had three boys whom she cherished deeply: Jason, Joshua, and Matthew. She then found her soul mate in Ron Stear whom she married on May 19, 1998, adding his three daughters - Jayne Gayman, Cathy Hanna and Debbie Neill - to her beloved family.

Karen was known for her compassion and care for others. She spent years caring for ailing family members in their homes and when they were in the hospital or in the nursing home she continued to visit and care for them. Karen was quick to smile and chose to live her life more focused on the blessings around her than the disappointments. She was known as a gracious hostess, regularly entertaining friends and family in her home. It was commonplace to see Karen on her riding mower with her iced tea. She said it was the best therapy she could have. Karen loved tending to her flower beds and gardens. She was an amazing artist and made many crafts, even traveling around Nebraska for a number of years to sell her crafts at various art shows. Karen also had an affinity for birds. In her last few years, she befriended a cardinal Darryl who regularly visited her and Ron, tapping on her laundry room window when he wanted her to refill the feeder. And, of course, she obliged.


Karen also had a wonderful sense of humor and was known for her occasional pranks, especially in her younger years. In fact, she was part of a group from her class who painted puma tracks leading up the front steps of the old high school. Although it couldn’t be proven, the principal was certain she was involved. So infamous was this act, during one of their class reunions, the original group - Karen included - went back and repainted the puma tracks before the school was torn down. In her years with Ron, he became an unassuming target for her harmless pranks. During his naps she would put smiley face stickers on the back of his head or paint his toenails and put his socks back on so he wouldn’t know until he removed his socks in front of everyone following their tennis games. She even put masking tape over his glasses once so when he put them on he briefly thought he was blind. Karen’s mischievousness was always tempered with her desire to bring laughter to others.

Karen was also known for her stubbornness. Once she made up her mind, the only person who could change it was Karen. She was also wise, offering insight to those who came to her for counsel and consolation. She was a careful listener who was less concerned with judging than with letting one know they had been heard and that she cared for them and their situation.

Karen declared her trust in Christ and left this life for her new one on August 14, 2021 following a short battle with cancer.

Those left to celebrate Karen’s life are her husband Ron Stear of Cozad; sons, Jason (wife Tamra and son Caleb); Joshua (daughter Amaris Crandall) of Kearney and Matthew (wife Angie and sons Levi Cover and Brad Waugh) of Cozad; brother, Gary Chittenden (wife Pam) of Leeds, Maine and niece Sarah (Adam) Reed of North Platte; sister-in-law, Joan Stear of Gothenburg; Ron’s daughters Jayne (husband Doug and children),Cathy Hanna (husband Dave and children), and Debbie (husband Mike and children); sister of the heart and cousin Lanna Haflich (husband Ron and children Hillary Zuege (Vic) and Jake) of Holdrege; aunt, Martha (Chittenden) Burton of Branson, MO; and several nieces, nephews, cousins, friends.

Karen was preceded in death by her father, Carol; her mother, Norma; grandparents Ulfert and Sophie Block and Ed and Eva Chittenden; and several aunts and uncles.

Graveside services will be held Thursday, August 19, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at Cozad Cemetery with Rev Jill Boyd officiating. Memorial book signing will be Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. with family receiving friends from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Berryman Funeral Home.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Karen Kay Stear, please visit our flower store.


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