On February 28, 2021, our world lost Karen Nadine (Wallace) MacDonald, a truly beautiful soul. Though her final year was a struggle, she remained strong, funny, and resilient as always. Her departure leaves a chasm in our lives that will never be filled. There will be a celebration of Karen’s life at a later time when family and friends can gather.
Karen was born on March 9, 1941, in Emmett, Idaho, to Boyd and Nadine Wallace. She was two when the family moved to Bonners Ferry. While living in a tent, they built a home on the North Bench.
Karen was proud of her rugged childhood, as it instilled an unshakable ability to cope and a sense of independence and guts that made her the incredible woman she was. She, along with her little brother Larry and her two younger sisters Sandy “Sam” and Kelly, lived a life chocked full of adventure and love on the Wallace place.
They spent hours riding horses and bikes and picking up sticks – lots of sticks – as Boyd and Nadine built their farm out of a forest.
Karen would tell you the single, biggest gift in her life was her family.
She and her husband of 61 years, Kenneth (Kenny) MacDonald, met each other in the first grade, became sweethearts in high school, and married on July 25, 1959. Together they produced three boys. First Rowdy, then Robb, and finally Ron (yes, Ronald MacDonald).
She took great pride in her “clan” and was fiercely protective of her brood. She was never a doter, but rather led by a very strong example.
Karen was a worker. One of her most important jobs was being a stay-at-home mom, but she would later go on to, as she always said, “wear many hats in the working world.”
She worked at Boundary County Community Hospital, at Wickstrom Drug, the Sheriff’s/DMV office and the USFS. She drove school bus and was a long-haul team driver. At 40-something she went back to school and got her real estate license.
Karen was a valued member of the community and an accomplished horsewoman. She loved her quarter horse, Polly Ann Jordan. Together they starred in countless play days, horse shows, and O-Mok-Sees throughout our area. We can’t remember the pair ever losing a horse race.
She was a founding member of the Selkirk Saddle Club and the Kootenai River Days Rodeo celebrations in Bonners Ferry. She spent countless hours working hard to ensure both were a continued success for many years.
Karen loved nothing more than being busy, and she imparted a strong work ethic on her boys. She was an artist, a carpenter, a rancher, a lover of the earth and all its creations (except snakes), a traveler, a pioneer and a fun-loving, risk-taking, spontaneous explorer.
At 62, Karen officially retired from a successful real estate career and set out on the “odyssey” she had been planning for years. With only a fresh tattoo and her faithful dog, Abbey, she jumped in her camper van and headed from Bonners Ferry to Nova Scotia. From there, she traveled down the coast.
She spent a frightful night in a New York City parking lot so she could catch the Staten Island Ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty. From there she made her way south, and west until several months later she was home.
Karen continued her life by prettying up her home, filling bird feeders and, of course, loving on and nurturing her most valuable possession – her family.
She leaves behind a legacy of lessons and directions for leading a full life: Be strong- willed humans. Do what you think is right. Stand up for yourself and don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t fight over frivolous things, but always fight for something you truly believe in.
Take life by the reins and make your own path – even if you’re the only one on it. In other words, Karen would say, “Just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge, it doesn’t mean you should follow.” And, maybe most importantly, “be adventurous!” and “no sniveling.”
Karen is preceded in death by her adoring parents, Boyd and Nadine Wallace.
Survivors include her loving husband of 61 years, Kenny, her eldest son Rowdy and his wife Julie, Robb and his wife Jeannie, and her baby Ron and his wife Summer.
Survivors also include her brother Larry (Wilma) Wallace, sisters Sandy “Sam” Wallace and Kelly (Bill) Jenkins, grandchildren Kendra (Daniel) Kidwell, Jared (Melissa) MacDonald, Aubree (Jake) MacDonald-Gifford, Kellen (Casie) MacDonald, McKenzie (Nash) Johnson and Veronica MacDonald, as well as 12 great grandchildren, many nieces, nephews, and assorted other family members too numerous to list who will miss her smile and infectious laughter dearly.
We would like to thank Sunset Home, Hearthstone Village, and Auburn Crest Hospice for their kindness and compassion over the past few months. We also offer heartfelt gratitude to our community of family and friends for their prayers and concern for Karen and her family.