Karen Key – Larger than Life


I’m at the age where family, friends and acquaintances are passing away at greater frequency. It’s a part of life and comes as no surprise. That knowledge  doesn’t make the grief of such events any less painful. Recently the world lost one of its great people – Karen Key. My soul is deeply sad at Karen’s passing.

There are a few people I’ve known in my life that I describe as “larger than life”.  I’d seen that descriptive phrase for years in books I read and didn’t truly grasp the meaning of  it.  My friend, Peter Holthe who was the impetus, actually the creator for FOCM – the website, events, etc was “larger than life”. It was after his passing that I truly appreciated the phrase. At Peter’s memorial service, his college room-mate Byron Pitts was in attendance. In Byron’s autobiography “Step out on Nothing” there is a portion wherein he describes how much Peter helped him in college.

Karen is also a member of this elite group of rare individuals who touch your life and impact it forever. Her consistent kindness, respect for others,  sincere and contagious enthusiasm, love of America coupled with her joy at having fun, smiling and laughing are what I think of and how I will remember Karen.

We met while working at Burroughs Wellcome Co., a unique pharmaceutical company founded in the UK in 1880. It was purchased in 1995 by Glaxo, which subsequently merged with SmithKlineBeecham to become GlaxoSmithKline. I think I met Karen in 1985 while we were both in Sales Representative Trainer Training class. My territory was in southern California and hers was the Raleigh-Durham, NC area.

We both came into the home office/headquarters around the same time. Senior management could tell early on that she was special – one of those people who excel at whatever they are assigned.

We weren’t in touch much in our post-coworker era but our friendship was one of those where that wasn’t necessary. In the most recent 10 years we were back in touch and saw each other more. I had a memorable stay with she and Donna and other BW alumni at their Hyco Lake house. She helped me get my dog Micah into the kayak so I could paddle him around.

Hyco Lake: Karen, Micah and me

The late stage lung cancer diagnosis was a huge shock and she handled it well and fought it with all that her optimism, her doctors and medications could provide.  https://www.clementsfuneralservice.com/obituaries/Karen-Letisha-Key?obId=24530539

Heaven has added another angel. Rest in peace my friend.