Karen Zarling Absalom

Karen Zarling Absalom, 78, of Christiansburg, formerly of Collierville, TN, passed away on Friday, January 17, 2020. 

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Karen went from Shorewood High School to Columbia (WI) School of Nursing where she earned her RN. 

Karen was a nurse’s nurse. Throughout her career one thing was paramount – patient care. She believed that the dignity and worth of every person under her care was her personal responsibility. 

In her career, Karen went from the emergency room at Michael Reese Medical Center in Southside Chicago through numerous hospital assignments and service with private physicians’ groups. 

Her enduring legacy began when she moved to Collierville, TN in 1990, and switched her professional concentration to geriatric care. Karen initially worked as Assistant Director of Nursing at Collierville Nursing and Rehabilitation. In 1995 she took over as Executive Director of the fledgling Collierville Alzheimer’s Day Care Center (now Page Robbins Adult Day Care Center). In 1995 the Center served a maximum of 15 clients and was housed in the Fellowship Hall of Collierville Christian Church. Local merchants provided lunch. From those humble beginnings, Karen led the expansion efforts of the Center including fundraising and land acquisition, all the time molding the philosophy of the Center to be dignity and worth for the individual. 

Sometimes overlooked, Karen also assured education and support for caregivers was an integral part of the Center’s philosophy. 

She retired in 2005, moving to Tucson, AZ, but leaving behind a thriving Page Robbins Adult Day Care Center which continues to grow and serve its community. 

A wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend, a boss…Karen was all of these. But she wanted to be remembered as a nurse and lifelong advocate of patient care and the right of every individual to be treated with dignity and respect. 

She is survived by her loving husband of 38 years, John Absalom; daughters, Kristin Poirier (Chris), Laura Gillie (Tupper); sons, Michael Rotsel, John Absalom IV (Caroline); grandchildren, Taylor, Ashleigh, Allison, Tupper Jr., Lexie, Stephanie, Leandra; siblings, Jim Zarling (Terri), Russ Zarling (Judy), Jodi Schei; as well as nieces and nephews, Britt, Jessica, Kate, TJ, and Jake. Karen was preceded in death by her parents, Russell G. and Teresa Pint Zarling; and first husband, Merle Dean Rotsel. 

The family wishes to recognize the loving care provided by Debbie Gilmer and Danielle Lindo of Care Advantage during Karen’s final months of life, as well as the professional assistance of Amedisys Hospice in her final days. 

A Celebration of Life will be on Saturday, April 25, 2020, at Collierville Christian Church in Collierville, Tennessee. 

In lieu of flowers family requests donations to be sent to Page Robbins Adult Daycare, 1961 S. Houston Levee Road, Collierville, TN 38017, or www.pagerobbins.org.

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