Karen R. Hamilla, age 80, of Munising, died peacefully on Saturday morning, May 16, 2020 with the morning sunshine on her face at Munising Memorial Hospital. Annette (Brebner) and Felix Boyak welcomed her into their world on New Year’s Day – 1940. Her childhood in Munising instilled the roots of faith, love, and family that Karen carried throughout her lifetime. She graduated from Sacred Heart School and then Wm. G. Mather High School in 1957 and was voted Miss Alger County in 1958. Karen married Frank E. Hamilla on July 15, 1961 and together they raised their four children. Karen and Frank were a beautiful couple who enjoyed gathering with family and friends. They knew how to have fun, laugh, love unconditionally and when they would dance together – the world would stop to admire them glide across the dance floor. They were married over thirty years when Frank unexpectedly preceded her in death on April 30, 1992. Karen worked throughout her life and was employed at Denman’s Department Store and Hiawatha Telephone Company. She retired as a customer service representative from HTC and then seasonally worked at Madigan’s Hardware, the Pictured Rocks Cruises, and in the gift shop at the Dogpatch. Karen was a faithful member of Sacred Heart Church where she served as a Eucharistic minister, was a member of the National Catholic Society of Foresters and was part of St. Joseph Circle. Karen enjoyed playing BINGO, traveling, visiting with family, watching sports, taking trips to the casino, and supporting her children and grandchildren in their endeavors. Karen was a caring and forgiving woman who eternally found the best in everyone. Throughout her life, she experienced times of difficult physical and mental health ailments, but Karen ALWAYS kept her faith and amazingly recovered from those times.
She is survived by her four children – Frank (Lori) Hamilla of Boyne City, Marilyn (Eric) Oas of Manistique, Mark (Amy) Hamilla of Marquette, and Carrie Mattson of Munising; her grandchildren – Madison and Molly Hamilla, Alex Oas, Josie and Mylie Hamilla, and Frankie and Anthony Mattson; her baby sister – Cathy (Tooker) Hamilla of Flushing; sisters-in-law – Joyce Boyak and Deanna Boyak of Munising, Carolyn Boyak of Garden City, and Carol Calkins of Muskegon; numerous nieces, nephew, and cousins; her “partner in crime”, pilot, co-pilot and special friend – Clare Prunick of Munising; and her “grand dogs” that brightened her day when they would visit at Medilodge or the hospital during the last few years.
Karen was preceded in death by her Mama and Daddy – Annette and Felix Boyak, her loving husband Frank, and her cherished siblings – infant Joseph, Lorraine (Paul) Boucher, Mark Boyak, Ann (Ed) Sowa, Bob Boyak, Jeanne (Ron) Strand, and Fuzzy Boyak.
Karen’s children are forever grateful to the staff and caregivers at Munising Memorial Hospital, Medilodge, Alger County Commission on Aging, and UPCAP for the care and assistance they gave her over the last days and years of her life.
Visitation will be held at the Bowerman Funeral Home on Wednesday. Due to the health restrictions in place, the funeral home and family are requesting that if possible family and friends who wish to come try to use the following schedule. Last names A - F come between 4:00 – 5:00 p.m., last names G - L come between 5:00 - 6:00, last names M – R come between 6:00 – 7:00, and last names S – Z come between 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. No one will be turned away if they cannot make the suggested schedule. Only ten people at a time will be allowed in the funeral home and we ask that you be patient with staff as we direct friends through the building. Masks and social distancing will be asked of those visiting. Karen’s Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Father Michael Ocran on Thursday, May 21, 2020 at Sacred Heart Church in Munising at 11:00 a.m.. Once again, social distancing rules and wearing of masks will be asked of those who attend. Interment will be at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Munising and Karen will be escorted by her seven grandchildren.
If wishing to make a memorial in Karen’s name, it is suggested to be made to Alger County Commission on Aging, Sacred Heart Church, Medilodge Activity Fund, or the Alger County Animal Shelter.
The following was written by Karen's granddaughter, Frankie:
This life is indescribable. (So please bear with me as I attempt to write it in words within these few short paragraphs)
It’s hard to grasp the concept that my daily schedule three months ago, is something that is impossible to do today. It was a time where we didn’t have to think twice about going to the store. It was when the bank, hair dresser, restaurants, etc. were allowed to have customers come enjoy all that they had to offer. It was when we didn’t have to fear a microscopic virus and wear masks to protect ourselves and the others around us. It was a time when hugging and kissing were the natural ways to show your love instead of staying your distance. It was when my Grandma Karen was alive.
Now, this quarantine has been challenging, uncomfortable, and hard. I could go on endlessly and explain how awful this experience has been. And if I were to do that, I would talk about how isolation makes you feel alone, and that we took our previous daily actions for granted. And that my Grandma’s last two months on this planet were spent without her family and friends. I would point out that we feel as if we got cheated by not being able to visit my Grandma in the nursing home. This list could go on forever and although it would make for a longer, more detailed passage, in light of my Grandma and her heartening soul, I will choose to write in a positive manner.
So, although this quarantine has been a challenge, it has taught us more than we can imagine. First, it’s okay to be scared; the unknown future can be frightening. But, by staying optimistic and searching for the positives, you realize this journey may be good for the soul. Before my Grandma passed, she knew it was her time to go home and she told her kids, she was scared. She had every right to fear the future, but she chose to find the good; her husband had been patiently waiting for twenty-eight years to be reunited with her, her siblings have missed her dearly and I can only imagine her smiling down on us at this very moment. The second lesson is to remember to be grateful for your hometown. Now I know this place is special, from the scenic pictured rocks lakeshore, to the numerous waterfalls and the small town feels. However, the characteristic that makes Munising incomparable is the people. When my grandma was in the hospital, her children were the only ones allowed to visit her and that was after they were screened in and all masked up. For the grandkids, we were lucky to look through the hospital window while we waved and blew kisses through the glass. The workers loved and cared for my grandma as one of their own family members; they even knew she liked two brown sugar packets in her cream of wheat. (This type of stuff would only happen here especially during this bizarre time) Once she had passed, we were surrounded by love, prayers, and good company from the people of Munising. Lastly, this quarantine has taught me to keep your loved ones close; to remind them you’re thankful for their existence, to mention you love them and to make more time for them.
Not only has quarantine taught me a tremendous amount, as I reflect back on my Grandma and her way of life, I find myself learning more. My Grandma’s faith was her most prominent characteristic, she truly believed God would not put you through more than you can handle. And let me tell you, he must have thought my 100-pound Grandma was one of the strongest people alive; he was right. She carried herself with grace and although we knew she struggled, you wouldn’t have been able to tell with that persistent smile she wore all day. You can even ask the nurses, Karen had nine lives and fought every battle that she encountered.
Family is what made her the happiest. She would smile in awe at gatherings and gleam with joy knowing that she was a part of something so wonderful. The memories that I will forever cherish of her are priceless. From the homemade ground bologna that we would crank with this old kitchen tool to her saying grace during Thanksgiving dinner and announced that we were all so grateful for Easter. (Which is true, we are thankful for Easter, but I assume she meant to say Thanksgiving) She would yell at us, grandkids, out of love as we would straddle the stairway railing and slide all the way down. Anytime you saw her, whether it be at home or in public, you would notice her index finger motioning for you to come to her. She would proceed to hold your hand and tell you how much she missed you, loved you, and prayed for you. Her kindness was unmatchable, and she always chose to see the good in everyone.
Grandma Karen was one of a kind and if you knew her, you would feel her love instantly. She will forever be missed and loved, but we are thankful for the time we had with her.
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