A Life Lived: Karen Elliott left her footprints on many hearts

Published 3:54 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Someone has said “There is no better exercise for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
Most agree that Karen Elliott lived her life for others.
A nurse by vocation, Karen began her nursing career at the old Carter County Memorial Hospital and later worked at the Sycamore Shoals Hospital, the VA, and as a home health nurse. However, she ended her career as a psychiatric nurse at Frontier Health, working with children and youth.
“My mother was a giver. She was a wonderful Christian woman, who loved with her whole heart,” said her daughter, Suzanne Runion, who was adopted at age six from the Philippines by her parents. “My mother often told me that my adoption was both a blessing and a gift from God. ‘Who else but God could handpick a baby a half a world away and bring her to me and your father in Tennessee?’” she often exclaimed.
Other times she would tell me: “You didn’t grow under my heart, but in my heart,” Suzanne shared.
The Elliotts were also parents of a son, Jason.
“One of my favorite memories of my mother was her singing. When she was at home and working around the house, she often sang. She loved music and always had a song in her heart. She was always upbeat and positive,” said Suzanne.
Karen’s husband, Gary, agreed that his wife was a good, Christian woman. “She was a wonderful wife and mother and a good nurse. She gave so much of herself to others. She wouldn’t leave work until she had taken care of her patients,” he shared through sobs.
Suzanne noted that her mother would spend hours on the phone setting up appointments for her patients and talking with insurance companies to make sure that her patients got the help they needed, and that it was to be paid for. “She was a good advocate,” she said.
A life-long friend, Margaret Holland, shared that she and Karen grew up together as next-door neighbors on Walker Street. “She was 18 months older than me, but we had a wonderful friendship and shared so much. We went through elementary, junior high, and high school together. We were in the Betsy Band together. Karen was a majorette…she had the best posture,” said Margaret.
“She was a wonderful person and friend. I never heard her talk about anyone or hardly raise her voice. She was a very caring, giving person and loved the Lord. We were in each other’s wedding. I remember changing my wedding date so Karen could be in my wedding. She was a total joy to be around,” said Margaret.
She noted that Karen was an avid reader. “She read anything that she could get her hands on. She loved to go places, and, oh, did she love to shop! She loved pretty clothes, and her dress was impeccable,” Margaret shared.
The two enjoyed trips to Nashville to Opryland and other sights. They once made a trip together to New York City to see a Broadway play, and enjoyed outings to Barter Theater. “She was a lot of fun to be with,” said Margaret, noting that the two could go months without seeing or talking to each other, and yet when they got together, they could pick up right where they left off.
“She had a good attitude about everything. Just a few weeks before she died, she told me, ‘If I don’t get better, I can go home to see my Lord Jesus and my mama and daddy.’”
Karen was very fond of her Sunday School teacher at East Side Baptist Church, Billie Jean Powell, who mutually loved Karen and has some wonderful memories of her. “She was such a dear person, and after she became ill, I’m sure she came to church some Sundays when she didn’t feel like it. Karen was a wonderful friend. She loved the Lord and loved people. I remember once when we undertook redecorating our class room, Karen bought new pictures and a new rug for the room. She not only gave of herself, but of her resources. There are few people like her in this world, and I’m going to miss her so much,” said Ms. Powell. “She was not only a joy, but an inspiration.”
Her family used the verses I Cor. 13: 1-2 to describe Karen. “Though I speak with tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal…and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not charity I am nothing.”
Karen Elliott left her footprint in many hearts during her 66 years of life on this earth.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox