Obituary of Karen L. Ciha
Karen L. Ciha, age 70, of Solon died Tuesday, February 6. 2024, in her home from an apparent fatal cardiac event. As one might say, she never knew what hit her, peaceful and fast.
A celebration of Karen’s life will be held from 3 to 6 pm on Friday, March 22, 2024, in the parking lot of Casey’s General Store in Solon (south location) where Karen has been so affectionately known as “Casey’s Karen” for a number of years. Food and drink will be served as the Karen stories flow, please come and share. In lieu of flowers, please support the Solon Food Pantry as Karen knew this was so important to their community.
Karen Lynn Ciha was born June 29, 1953, in Oakland, California as her parents, David W. and Marian L. (Woy) Ciha served in the United States Navy during the Korean Conflict. The family returned to David’s hometown of Solon, Iowa where they joined his parents, Wesley and Lois Ciha in farming. As the family grew, the decision to leave the farm was made and family of now seven ended up in Coralville, living on fifth street. Here all five of the children grew up and attended Iowa City Schools, Karen graduating with the Class of 1971 from West High School where she was active in orchestra playing the cello since junior high. Following graduation she attended the University of Iowa with the intent of a degree in social work. Short just hours of her degree she changed majors and pursued a career in nursing. This turned out to be her life’s calling as she was in the nursing profession for nearly 40 years, Starting in high school she worked as a nurse’s aide and in the kitchen of the former Lantern Park Care Center, continuing this through college and later coming back to this care center. Most of her career was caring for the elderly in care facilities in the area, where not only did the residents love the loud and often a bit crazy lady, but fellow colleagues and management respected and enjoyed all that she was. Retirement brought much needed rest for the sore bones, but in her words it was boring and she missed the people connections that she so cherished. Thus the application at Casey’s General Store in Solon. Not sure anyone knew what they were getting in Karen, but soon she became a store icon, customers looking for Karen, though you never needed to because you could always hear her before you would see her! She had a way of making you feel just right at that moment, but could raze you till you wanted to run. Her siblings would all cringe when someone asked if they were Karen Ciha’s brother, you never knew what was next.
Karen enjoyed life to its fullest, always pushing the envelope just a bit. In high school around the kitchen table, she would get in very heated political debates with her dad, and this was in the early 1970’s. She was so proud to have worked on Jim Leach’s first campaign when he was elected to the Congress in 1976. When her brothers decided they should do RAGBRAI for the first time in the 1990’s, she was the support team for Team Ciha Pet for well over a decade, not only driving the back roads of Iowa, but making sure our team had whatever they needed, making new lifelong friends along the way, and occasionally being able to get lost in a town with a population of only 75, with the team riders a bit excited looking for their Gatorades.
Karen never married, never had children but was the favorite Aunt to her nieces and nephews. Only years later the parents finding out some of what went on when they trusted Aunt Karen with the care of their children. She never acted her age, was always going a mile a minute and would always be there for the young and the very old, those in between were on their own. Family functions always meant Karen came in full colors and was ready for anything, and most anything happened with her right in the center. She loved her dear friends, and if you were not afraid of such a strong personality you would be a friend for life. We often thought that she didn’t care what others thought about her, but the truth be known, she was not wasting a minute worrying about it!
Her family includes three younger brothers, Dave Ciha (Laura), Dan Ciha (Colette Soults) and Bill Ciha (Wendy Rasmussen), a number of nieces and nephews whose lives were so impacted by their crazy Aunt Karen; numerous cousins who all felt a lifelong impact of Karen; but maybe none more than Susie Tvetter and her husband Steve; and her favorite brother-in-law, Mike Thomsen.
Karen was preceded in death by her father, David Ciha; mother, Marian Ciha; step-mother, Kay Ciha; and sister, Diane Thomsen.
Karen didn’t take life too seriously, but was serious in what she believed in. Our way to celebrate and cherish this crazy God given blessing is to carry on and live not too serious but to believe seriously in what is important and take care of that. She lived her life like no other, because there has never been anyone like her, nor will there ever be, God broke the mold on this one for good reason! Rest in peace sister, and enjoy the rest, you so deserve it. We all love you.