Karen Rubin – December 1, 2007

Karen Rubin was a beloved mother, sister, aunt and treasured friend. Those who knew what Karen went through for so many years know what a remarkable person she was.

Judaism tells us that a person’s life should not be measured by their money or their material possessions. A person’s life should be evaluated based on what they did for
other people. In Karen’s case, we can state, without hesitation or doubt, that hers was a life spent in the service of others. This was a person who truly did a great deal for other people. And a person’s life should be based on their courage. Well, none of us ever met a braver person than Karen Rubin.

Karen was born on September 15, 1944 in New Haven, the daughter of Samuel and Barbara Rubin. Her family was blessed with her brother Howard. She attended the Helen Street School, Hamden High School, Emerson College in Boston and then received her Master’ degree in Audiology and her 6th year back here at Southern. She worked for 35 years in the Meriden School system and if she could, she’d still be working there today. She was innovative. She started and developed the speech program, and she often had to fight to keep it going. She worked with children because she knew that speech problems must be addressed early in one’s life. She was well regarded by teachers, by her students and by their parents. Long after they left her training, students would be in touch with her, always thanking her for what she had done for them.  There is simply no way to calculate how many lives she changed for the better and how much she changed those lives. A person’s speech is their way of communicating with the world and others judge us on the way we communicate.   

When she retired, there was a ceremony to honor her, and members of her family were struck by all of her accomplishments that people at work always knew about. Why didn’t her family know more details about what she had done? Because unlike the rest of us, she didn’t brag about her achievements and she didn’t really
need anyone else to know what she had done. There is in this world something called modesty and humility and there are some people who do what they do because they’re doing good. Good is its own reward. She loved her work and was great at it because she loved children. She was a foster mother to a number of children and then very simply fell in love with a young girl named Sarah. We all have someone who, for all of our other relationships, is the love of our life. The love of Karen’s life was Sarah. Sarah would be the first to say that her mother saved her life. We are all put on this earth for reasons. Karen was put on this earth to help children, but most of all she was put on this earth to be here for Sarah. In Judaism we say that if you save one life, you save a whole world. In ways that Sarah can only appreciate now that she is an adult, Karen gave her every opportunity and sacrificed for her and was patient with her and no matter what, in good times and bad times, just plain loved her.

Karen’s mother Barbara had a very difficult life, but she was brave and turned out to be the great inspiration for Karen when she faced her problems.  Barbara’s legacy helped Karen to struggle with her illnesses. Since 1983, for 24 years, Karen fought one battle after another, as disease hit one organ after another. She has fought on with tenacity, never knowing what was going to happen next. Especially for these last 13 or 14 years, she fought and she never complained and she never asked “Why me?” Dr. Arthur Levy and countless medical staff people have helped her along the way and kept her alive.

Some of the other aspects of Karen’s life: Karen was very proud of he Jewishness. One walks into her home and can feel the Jewish culture all around. She cared about her religion and her people.  It made her day when the U Conn women’s basketball team won.

She was always a big kid at heart. She was positive, she had her own sense of humor, she loved to laugh and laugh out loud. She was short in height but great in stature. She had a lot of close friends who really stood by her during the hard times.

Karen never said her brother Duke’s name without smiling.  She had great affection for her nephew and niece Steven and Barbara. We extend our sincere condolences to her aunts Lillian and Sandra. We want to thank David and Sylvia who have always been so dear and close and attentive to Karen.

I came to hospice after Karen had lapsed into herself for a few days and she began to respond. After I left, she rallied a little and then Sara had a conversation with her. That was very special. It allowed them to say goodbye. It allowed Karen to tell Sarah to be careful. “Wear your seat belt” was Karen’s favorite instruction to Sarah. It meant: Take care of yourself.

In September when the end seemed imminent, Karen told me, “I’m not going in September, that’s the month of my birthday. And I can’t remember why but she insisted that she wasn’t going to die in October and November. When David called me the other day to tell me she had passed on, it hit me that she died on December 1st. Leave it to Karen to win the last battle.

When I’ll think about Karen, I’ll think about a life that was lived well.  I’ll think about a giver and a healer and a fighter for life.

She was a righteous woman. May she rest in peace. Let us say Amen.