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June 21, 1948 ~ October 1, 2023 (age 75) 75 Years Old
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Vicki Lee (Carpenter) Karlson, 75, died peacefully at home in Ada, Michigan, on October 1, 2023 of pancreatic cancer. Born June 21, 1948, in Vancouver, Washington. Vicki grew up in Rockford, Michigan. She was a contestant in the Junior Miss Contest in high school, dancing the Hula in a sparkling "grass skirt" as her talent. She graduated from Rockford High School in 1966 and had a lengthy career at Michigan Bell Telephone, retiring in (1994). She met Barry Karlson of South Dartmouth, Mass at Plymouth UCC, Grand Rapids, MI where they both had been members since 1978. They married in 1985 and moved to Ada, Mi. In 2002 they became involved in the church's mission to benefit the Oglala Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota with the non-profit organization Re-Member. Vicki quickly rose to the position of Volunteer Trip Coordinator of the organization, which brings hundreds of volunteers each year to the reservation to do service work and learn about Lakota culture and the realities of the reservation system. After she retired from Re-Member in 2010 she remained deeply devoted to the Lakota people and sought to do more to enrich their lives in other ways. She then became involved with a company called Tomboy Tools - a company who designed tools to fit women’s hands. She started another organization called One Tipi At A Time and worked with several Lakota women to bring tool kits to the women on the reservation and host seminars on how to use those tools and do basic home repairs. Out of respect for her efforts she was given the Lakota name of "Helps the People Woman." Vicki is survived by her husband Barry, her son, Brent (Christina) Reiffer of Richmond, Virginia; four grandchildren, Camron, Carleigh, Ryan and Mitchell; her brother, Jim (Carol) Carpenter of Greenville, Michigan, and her sister, Jolene Carpenter of Longwood, Florida.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Plymouth United Church of Christ or to Re-Member at www.re-member.org. Details will follow on Caring Bridge.
A memorial service will be held 2pm on Friday November 10th, 2023 at Plymouth United Church of Christ.