Karen Leigh Kaelke Matthews, age 81 from Fort Walton Beach, Florida passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Fort Walton Beach.
Karen was born on January 3, 1942, in Lamar Missouri, to Theo and Doris (Shank) Kaelke. She grew up on her family farm in Lockwood, Missouri. A nursing graduate of Missouri University, she earned her BSN in 1963. Shortly after graduation, she became an officer in the Air Force and worked in Labor and Delivery at Eglin Air Force Base. While stationed there she met and married fellow officer, Robert D. Matthews. They were married on July 12, 1968, in chapel. The military and VA moved the family around through the years, but in 1988 they moved back to the Fort Walton Beach area. Karen was active in her nursing career for over 60 years. For the past 35 years, she worked at Gulf Coast Treatment Center, a Residential Treatment Center for adolescent girls. Karen had a sweetness in her manners and a quiet, calming personality. She also had a quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor. She loved reading, music, photography and traveling. She was an active long time member of Trinity United Methodist Church.
She is survived by Robert D. Matthews, her husband of 55 years, her daughter, Tara Leigh Matthews Dizor, her son Theodore A. Matthews (PHONTIP Matthews), Robert Dizor, her Grandchildren, Robert M. Dizor, Julianna L Dizor, Daniel P. Dizor, Alexander J. Dizor, Brianna E. Dizor, sister-in-law, Elaine Kaelke, sister-in-law Donna Kaelke, Sister & brother-in-law, Shirley and Allen Abbott, nieces and nephew, Kristi Janssen (Jeff), Ryan and Jillian Janssen of Cary, NC, Amy Kaelke, Marc (Angela), Theo Kaelke of Kenya, Africa, Kristin Miller (Matt) Evelyn and Anaelise of Cornelius, NC, Kindel Kaelke.
She was preceded in death by her two sons, Michael A. Matthews and James P. Matthews, her parents Theo and Doris Kaelke, parents –in-law Alex and Mary Matthews, Michael and Margaret Nebbia, Beatrice Whitson and her brothers Karlos L. Kaelke and LtCol. Kery J. Kaelke.
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