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Karen Marie Rugh

May 27, 1956 ~ July 30, 2022 (age 66)


Karen Marie Rugh, age 66, of Elgin, IL, passed on to her eternal home on July 30, 2022. She was born on May 27, 1956 in Marshall, MN, to parents, Howard and Jeanne (née Johnson) Johnson.

Karen was a creative soul who brought hard work and new ideas to everything she undertook. Whether assisting in her brother’s advertising company, selling Avon, working retail, or managing a sports training facility, she left her mark with her innovative ideas executed with excellence.

These qualities transferred to her home life as well: Karen could make any place she lived lovely, regardless of location, size, or resources. She was a master “thrifter” with an eye for possibility. Somehow, her collections and combinations always came together as cozy and comfortable without feeling cluttered.

Holidays and other celebrations were a great delight to Karen. She was especially passionate about Christmas, to the point where many of her decorations remained up year-round. She always set a beautiful table and served delicious food, and no celebration was complete without games (with prizes!). Even while ill this year, she proudly managed to put together her annual, elaborate Easter egg hunt for her children and grandchildren.

Karen adored being a grandmother. She was “Mormor” to eighteen grandchildren, ranging in age from 3 years up to 20 years old. She prided herself on her extensive book, toy, and dress-up clothes collections, but her grandchildren did not require all of those extras to be entertained at her house: Mormor herself was such fun and full of love. She relished her time with them, and she was so proud of the people they were becoming.

Karen championed each of her four daughters and sons-in-law.  Their desires to raise their families in the knowledge of the Lord and to serve Him were answers to her sincere prayers for them. They each brought her great joy. The last year of her life was a gift to each of them, an opportunity to spend a great deal of intentional time with her, serving her and loving her.

Although she was separated and eventually divorced from her girls’ father, Vic Rugh, the two maintained a steady friendship and in recent years were truly best friends. Along with their daughters, Vic served as one of Karen’s caregivers once she became ill. He was faithfully by her side nearly every day, making sure she always had enough Coca-Cola in the house (her lifelong favorite) and doing his best to keep a smile on her face. Together, they enjoyed watching for the hummingbirds to come to her feeder and cultivating a trumpet vine cutting.

Karen was preceded in death by her father, Howard Johnson; her mother, Jeanne Johnson; and her brothers, Mark Johnson and Craig Johnson. She is survived by her best friend, Victor Rugh; her daughters, Jessica (Benjamin) Feuser, Kathryn (Paul) Luehmann, Sarah (Jeffrey) Fritsch, and Molly (Matthew) Ackerman; her grandchildren, Laurel, Evalin, Jackson, Peyton, Eloise, Olivia, Abigail, Audrey, Gloria, Anna, Joseph, Samuel, Julia, Elizabeth, Suzanne, Daniel, Charlotte, and Cormac; her siblings, Paul (Karen) Johnson and Kathryn (David) Rupprecht; as well as many cousins, nephews, nieces, and friends.

A memorial service will be live streamed at 4:00pm, Thursday, August 11, 2022.  Pastor Elliott Anderson will be officiating.  To access the memorial service, log on safe from home via (Meeting ID: 829 7812 5593, Password: 906644).

Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Karen's name to Phil's Friends.

Final arrangements entrusted to Symonds-Madison Funeral Home.  For more information, call 847-741-1128 or visit

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