WILMINGTON — Karen Elizabeth Neilson (née Record) died peacefully at home surrounded by those most precious to her on July 13, 2021, in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Karen is survived by her husband, Douglas Gregg Neilson; children, Douglas Madden Neilson, Garrett Hall Neilson, and Katherine Elizabeth Neilson; twin sister, Fran Record Cash, her husband Randy, and their children Samuel, Nathan and Daniel of Huntsville, Alabama; and older sister, Christy Sue Baron and her husband Chris of Sandestin, Florida. She is also survived by her numerous and much beloved Roberson cousins. She was preceded in death by her parents, Walter A. Record, II, and Margaret Sue (Roberson) Record and older brother Walter A. Record, III, all of Huntsville, Alabama.
Karen was born on February 26, 1960, in Jacksonville, Florida, but soon thereafter the family moved to Huntsville where she spent her entire childhood. In 1978, she graduated from Huntsville High School, where she excelled in the visual arts. She then attended Auburn University completing her Bachelor’s degree in 1982. During her last year at Auburn, she met and fell in love with Doug. They were married on June 30, 1984, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Huntsville. For their “honeymoon,” as they often joked, the newlyweds headed to Purdue University where Karen obtained her Master’s degree in Counseling. Some of her fondest memories occurred during their time in West Lafayette – building their first nest together in a tiny, married student apartment, taking trips to Chicago, attending auctions in search of furniture for a future dream home, hosting dinners, especially for foreign students, and forming a lifelong friendship with her dear friend, Katherine Bolyard. After she and Doug moved to Corning, New York in 1991, Karen began working for Corning Community College as a career counselor. Over the next nine years, the couple welcomed their children into their home on Walnut Street. In 2001 the family relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina, and Karen focused on caring for and nurturing the kids. As a mother Karen had the prized ability to successfully balance the liberties given to her children so that they would grow into their own, making and learning from their mistakes, and to support her children so that they would know she was always there to protect and guide when needed. Her greatest sense of fulfillment was knowing that her children are all imbued with her spirit of a love for, and an empathy toward, all others.
Karen was happiest when she was in the kitchen preparing any number of delicious, gourmet meals. She read cookbooks for pleasure! Her culinary skills embraced many different cuisines: Southern, of course, but also from the other three points of the compass. One night she might serve cornbread and red beans with ham, the next night an Indian curry, and then the next night savory-filled arepas.
Those that were fortunate to know her well form a consensus in their impression of her: she was kind, charming, sweet, clever, well-read, wholly genuine, and deeply concerned about others. Karen was very active in small group Bible Study at Port City Community Church. She led numerous studies and cherished the many friendships that she formed with her group members.
For many years, Karen kept a small piece of paper on the refrigerator that displayed “The Counsel of John Wesley’s Mother”:
“Avoid whatever weakens your reason,
impairs the tenderness of your conscience,
obscures your sense of God,
takes off your relish for spiritual things …
increases the authority of the body over the mind”
In her very quiet and unassuming way, this is how Karen lived her life.
A funeral for family and friends will be scheduled at a later date, likely mid- to-late-September, at the family plot in Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville. A reception and celebration of Karen’s life will be held afterward. A memorial service in Wilmington will also be planned. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Lower Cape Fear LifeCare Hospice at 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401. The gentle care provided by hospice was so appreciated by the family during Karen’s final days. Condolences can be sent to the Neilson family, 7913 Sanderling Place, Wilmington, NC 28411. The family would also like to especially thank Drs. Jeffrey Beecher, Tiffany Morgan, and Justin Markow and their respective staffs for their fine care and compassion during Karen’s illness.