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In Memoriam - Karen Parkes Christensen

In 1990, Jim Hinkhouse began distributing flyers announcing the “1991 AA Mount Rainier Expedition”, Karen C was the

Karen and Jimfourth person to call Jim. Thus began a friendship that was fundamental to the eventual success of Jim’s idea to merge mountaineering and recovery into what became One Step at a Time.

Karen was proud of her status as OSAT member #4.   As a recovery professional, Karen was an important sounding board for Jim.  She was also key to the development of socialization as an important aspect of the club from the very beginning.  Shortly before the first Rainier climb, Karen hosted a barbeque for those who were going to climb Rainier.  After the climb, she became the Social Chairman for OSAT, a position she held for nearly five years.  Karen was also a member of the club’s original Board of Servants (later BOTS) when OSAT was formally organized in 1994.

Karen was with Jim when they first heard the Dalai Lama quotation, “The relationship of height to spirituality is not merelyKaren C metaphorical, it is a physical reality…”, an idea became the conceptual foundation of OSAT.

When Jim retired from Boeing to study to become a recovery professional, Karen was setting up her own treatment consulting firm, Recovery Connections.   So their life paths were running in parallel more than ever just as Jim died on Mt. McKinley in May 1995.  Karen’s stature in the recovery community continued to grow, eventually serving as the president of the Advisory Committee of Washington State’s Chemical Dependency Professionals for six years, and chairing conferences for several national recovery professional organizations.  See her obituary for other honors and tributes.

A long-time cancer survivor, Karen suffered a heart attack in the spring of 2011, followed by a stroke in October of that year.  She showed characteristic courage and good humor in facing these setbacks, advising friends “In case you have the opportunity to turn down having a stroke, I would strongly suggest you do that.”  Karen quietly succumbed, apparently to a heart failure in her sleep, December 4, 2012.   Her family asked that memorials be directed to Assistance League of Everett or Residence XII Chemical Dependency Treatment for Women in Kirkland.

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