Karen Stuckenberg Kolb left our world on February 27, 2018. She passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her many friends and family and near her special garden. Karen was born October 13, 1946 to Arthur G. Stuckenberg and Clara (Juergens) Stuckenberg in St. Louis, Missouri. Arthur was a real estate developer and created the Williamsburg subdivision in Creve Coeur among other commercial and residential developments. Karen grew up in St. Louis Hills around baseball where Stan and Lillian Musial were her neighbors and Dell Rice, Red Schoendienst and Joe Garagiola all lived within a few blocks. After attending Parkway School, her family moved to Montecito in 1960 where they had enjoyed summer vacations while staying at the oceanfront motels on Cabrillo Blvd. Karen was a natural born swimmer and Art would frequently need to go down to the beach and coax her home at sunset. Karen attended Santa Barbara High School and graduated from Santa Barbara City College and while there was a member of the Santa Barbara Aqua Stars, a synchronized swimming team that performed shows at local pools and especially at the Miramar Beach Hotel. Karen sometimes performed as a mermaid and a handsome lifeguard would carry her to and from the pool. She collected a wide assortment of mermaid paraphernalia ever since.
In 1971, Karen married Thomas G. Schratter and they moved first to Los Angeles and eventually to Half Moon Bay, CA. Karen quickly found employment in San Francisco as the chief accountant for philanthropist and real estate developer, Robert Lurie, who owned the San Francisco Giants, the Mark Hopkins Hotel and the Curran Theatre along with other holdings in both San Francisco and Chicago. Karen especially enjoyed her office at the top floor in the Bank of America Building where each year during Fleet Week the navy pilots flying over the city would wave to her at eye level. Opening day of the baseball season each year was an office tradition enjoying the family seats behind the dugout. Theater tickets for the best shows were never a problem. One of Karen’s proudest moments came playing softball for the city league on the field at Candlestick Park.
Karen returned to Santa Barbara in 1987 to marry her childhood sweetheart, Harry Kolb. They first met as grade school students and just knew that one day they would marry. Karen performed volunteer work and enjoyed 10 years delivering Meals on Wheels. Karen’s most rewarding work was as a docent at Ganna Walska Lotusland where she attended their first docent training class and continued giving tours for 23 years. Karen’s favorite remark to all new docents was to act as if Madame Walska was with you on each tour and to keep Madame in mind when discussing her life and love of the garden. Karen’s devotion and joy at Lotusland demonstrated itself as she and Harry were one of only two couples who attended all of the first 21 Lotusland Celebrates annual benefit dinners. Harry and Karen were also members of the Lotus Society.
Several talent agents tried to encourage Karen to become a model or actor but she knew her gentle personality would not do well in that environment. She was persuaded to appear on several Hallmark Cards and attended La Belle Modeling Agency locally just to walk in local fashion shows at the Biltmore, Nordstrom’s, Saks and Coral Casino.
Karen was a wonderful amateur travel coordinator and enjoyed organizing romantic group trips for Harry and their friends to Paris, the Dordogne, Lake Como, the Grand Canyon for Colorado River rafting, Machu Picchu, the Galapagos and sailing in the Virgin Islands. Aside from her home in Montecito, Karen’s favorite place in the world was the Baths on Virgin Gorda. Because of Harry’s interest in collectible cars, Karen also tolerated numerous trips to Carmel and the Pebble Beach Concours. She was a wonderful cook and her holiday dinner parties for 15-20 were not to be missed. Karen’s favorite pastime was creating and tending her blue and white gardens – “they show the best in daylight and moonlight.” She loved watching the plants blossom and flourish. Karen and Harry were also members of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club and kept their sailboat, Serenade, in the harbor where they enjoyed sailing with friends and just spending relaxing nights in the harbor.
Karen’s warm and gentle personality was a magnet to her friends. At an early age, her mother, by example, inspired her to live by the Desiderata oath and Karen’s kind and sensitive treatment to all she met was unwavering. Her friends recognized it in everything she did and were inspired by her. Knowing Karen just made you a better person.
Karen is survived by her husband, Harry W. Kolb; her brother James A. Stuckenberg and his wife, Anita (Pickering) Stuckenberg living in Atascadero; nephews Daniel J. Stuckenberg, Will J. Stuckenberg, and David J. Stuckenberg.
The family would like to thank the professional and caring support Karen received these past many years at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center and especially Doctor Frederic Kass, the staff at Cottage Hospital and especially Doctor Babji Mesipam and the support and assistance from Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of Santa Barbara.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully suggests contributions be made to Ganna Walska Lotusland, 695 Ashley Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108 in Karen’s memory.
Arrangements for a service celebrating Karen’s life will be forthcoming.