On Friday, May 28, 2021, Karen Roberta Kinser, age 59, was taken from us far too soon. She brought so much love and joy to those lives she touched.

Karen was born on November 20, 1961 to Bob and Nancy Bergenske in Simi Valley. After the family moved to Eureka, Karen attended Eureka High school and went on to attend College of the Redwoods, where she met her future husband, Collin Kinser. On March 19, 1983 and March 11, 1986 they welcomed their beautiful son and daughter. Karen’s children were the most important part of her life, and despite the end of her marriage, her role as a strong and loving mother shown out for the world to see. She is remembered by her family as bringing care and kindness to every conversation and situation she faced, finding peace in her garden and spending evenings cuddling on the couch with her kids. But it wasn’t all serious all the time for her, she had the uncanny ability to bring a sassy wit at moments when no one else could. As a daughter, Karen showed how broad her shoulders of support could be as she helped care for her mother in her final years of life.

Professionally, Karen worked in the banking industry and later in life pursued her real estate license to become a property manager, which allowed her the time and flexibility to spend with her beautiful grandchildren. Becoming a grandmother gave her so much joy. Karen spent her days playing Barbies with her granddaughters and running through the sprinkler with them on a nice day. She often spoke about how her grandchildren were the light of her life. She was a generous person, giving of her time and care for others. She was always there for people in need, often calling others to make sure they were OK, or giving them small gifts of support. She enjoyed decorating her house, yoga, going to concerts and spending Holidays with her family and siblings. Karen spent a lot of time with her sister, going to farmer’s markets, traveling to San Francisco, and shopping Union Square.

Karen thought highly of Marilyn Monroe, having many pictures and memorabilia in her home, and spoke of her beauty and strength. As such, the family would like to share one of Karen’s favorite quotes from Marilyn: “Keep smiling because life is a beautiful thing, and there’s so much to smile about.”

Karen is survived by her son Blair (Jennifer) Kinser, her daughter Jessica (Saeng) Yang, her grandchildren Sophia, Leah, Collin and Zyla. Her siblings Nick Bergenske, Mark (Nancy) Bergenske, John (Liz) Bergenske Ann (Dennis) Pfeifer, her father Robert Bergenske, her former husband Collin Kinser, and numerous nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her mother Nancy (Alvin) Tompkins, her brother Brian Bergenske and her sister-in-law Cheryl Bergenske.

Karen battled mental illness for many years and it is ultimately what took her life. The family has set up a memorial fund through Mental Health America to support and bring awareness to mental health at mhanational.org. The URL to donate is https://give.classy.org/KarenKinserMemorialFund.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Mitchell Grove in Eureka on June 27 at 3 p.m. We hope to see familiar faces while we share stories and celebrate Karen’s life.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Karen Kinser’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.