GERING, Neb. – Karen Kae (Clapp) Thompson, 77, passed away on Dec. 18, 2020, at Regional West Medical Center following complications from surgery and other long-term health issues. She has been cremated according to her wishes. Her ashes will be buried next to her beloved husband, Ralph, in a private graveside service at West Lawn Cemetery with her immediate family in attendance. Final arrangements are being handled by Dugan Kramer Funeral Home. A Celebration of Life event will be planned some time in 2021. In lieu of flowers, messages of condolence may be left on her Facebook page or at www.dugankramer.com.
Karen was born in Torrington on Feb. 16, 1943, to parents Donald R. Clapp and Helyn D. (Yates) Clapp. She grew up on the family farm in Yoder. Her childhood on the farm meant everything to her. She especially loved spending time with her dad outside doing chores and caring for the animals. Those stories, as well as memories of her mom, her brother Dewey and sister Dona Lyn, were her favorite to tell. She attended all her school years at Huntley, where she was active in Job’s Daughters and 4-H. She graduated in 1961 with a small and close-knit class of 20 students.
On Oct. 10, 1961, she married Ralph Dale Thompson in the Church at Bryant in Scottsbluff, Neb. They had two children, Dawn Dorene and Phillip Dean. The family lived in Scottsbluff, then Cheyenne and Farmington, N.M., before returning to western Nebraska in 1976. They made their home on Spring Creek Road in Mitchell until Ralph’s death in 2001, at which time Karen moved to Gering, Neb. It cannot be overstated how important family and friends were to them all those years.
Their grandchildren, Kendall Shea and Hanna Cae, were the center of their universe, their heart and joy and they spent as much time as they could making them feel that way. The same could be said for their dear nieces and nephews. Lasting memories were made during annual campouts and Christmas parties, barbecues, birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays. Their home was always warm, inviting and open to everyone. If you spent any time there, they made you feel welcome and loved. Cards and other games were a favorite past time, with hours and hours spent laughing and bonding in the spirit of good competition.
Karen worked all her life, but it was her 31 years at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff where she left a lasting impression, first working in the emergency room and later in the business office, until her retirement in 2011. She was known as “K.T.”, and the friendships she made during those years were incredibly special to her. If you knew K.T., you knew kindness and compassion. Her work ethic was strong, and she was known as someone who was always there for others. She worked hard and enjoyed her job immensely, but equally loved her quiet time spent at home with her fur babies.
An avid crocheter all her life, Karen found true joy in creating beautiful, delicate doilies, colorful afghans and heartwarming baby blankets that became family treasures. Karen was a huge sports fan. She first and foremost loved her Wyoming Cowboys, Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Braves. But if her team wasn’t playing, she’d root for yours. She was also an avid NASCAR fan and cheered on her favorite driver, Kevin Harvick, every chance she got. She and sister-in-law, Sandy Thompson, spent many wonderful years supporting the local race car drivers as well, often traveling with them on weekends, spending time in the pits, offering her assistance and enthusiasm. She played the piano, loved music of all kinds and especially enjoyed dancing. She couldn’t stay in her seat if Elvis was playing, or anything upbeat.
Karen had a deep, deep faith and strong relationship with her God and felt at peace knowing she would be with him after her death. Because of her small stature and soft voice, she was known for being a kind and gentle spirit, but that little frame also held much passion for life. Her strength seemed to come from loving and uplifting others. There was no one better to have in your corner.
Karen is survived by her daughter, Dawn Thompson, of Gering, Neb.; her son Phil Thompson and daughter-in-law, Donna Thompson, of Gering, Neb.; granddaughter, Kendall Thompson, of Denver, Colo., granddaughter Hanna Thompson-Hanson and her husband, Ty Hanson, of Scottsbluff, Neb.; brother, Dewey Clapp, of Torrington, sister Dona Foster and brother-in-law, Bryan Foster, of Torrington; sister-in-law, Stella (Thompson) Strauch, of Scottsbluff, Neb.; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Ronald and Sandy Thompson, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Dixie (Thompson) and Bill Hansen, of Ault, Colo., as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Don and Helyn, and her husband, Ralph.