Karen L. Rajek

Karen L. Rajek of Merrill, WI passed away peacefully on April 3, 2024, at her newly remodeled residence in Weston, WI.  Prior to passing, Karen forged a 72-year trail of laughter, generosity, compassion, and wisdom.  She was a selfless, kindhearted woman; a loving mother and wife who spoiled her grandchildren without complaint.  She was sweet with a side of spicy.  Her larger-than-life persona and trademark particulars will never be forgotten.

On February 8, 1975, Karen married Gary, the boy next door.  Together they would raise five amazing children.  Unbeknownst to them, Karen and Gary would fulfill their vow “till death do us part” in 2019 when Gary unexpectedly passed.  Gary remained her true love throughout the rest of her life.

As her children grew and slightly matured, Karen thought she had all the love she needed, then, along came the grandkids.  Grandma had a special ability to never use the word that starts with “n” and ends with “o” when it related to her 11 favorite souls.  Her silly grandma-isms were often followed by the sounds of children cackling.  She enjoyed everything that came with the title of grandma and was rarely seen without one at her side.  She taught them more than she will ever know.

She left behind a lot of stuff that her children do not know what to do with.  Her treasures are proof that one can get their exercise by walking the aisles of their local Walmart.  Karen could smell out a deal from miles away.  No clearance aisle was left unnoticed, no black Friday ad left unturned.  The art of the deal benefited many throughout her tenure as the Merrill Steel bingo prize gatherer of which she took deep pride in. 

Karen was famously opinionated when it came to details most would overlook.  From flooring being laid at a 35-degree angle, to formatting/editing documents, Karen was not scared to express her concerns, nearly always following up with, “I’m just particular”.  She despised Times New Roman font, which is why her loving children couldn’t resist one last poke by including it in her obituary.  We understand the potential repercussions of this action as we were warned!

Another passion of Karen’s was working in the family business alongside her brothers and more recently children, nieces, and nephews.  Karen brought a soft side to steel, focusing on employee engagement, meticulously designing the beloved annual Christmas party hat, and many others that we are not able to list due to time and character constraints.  To Karen, her employees were an extension of her family.  She appreciated each and every person, no matter their title.

It goes without any doubt, Karen loved to serve her community.  She devoted countless hours to the Samoset Council, Boy Scouts of America for over 47 years.  “Be Prepared”, this is a long list!  Karen carried out all positions at Pack Level, served as Cub Scout Leader, Cub Scout Leader Trainer at Philmont Scout Camp in New Mexico, Wood Badge Trained and Staffer, Staffer for the University of Scouting, Day Camp Director and Staffer, Chuckwagon/Buckboard Staff, District Committee, Council Training Staff, Popcorn Kernel (under her reign they had a record year!), and started the Merrill Snow Sculpture Competition.  She was heavily involved in Round Tables, OWL Leader Training, Pow Wow/ACES, BALOO, and most recently an Executive Board Member.  Karen was a Silver Beaver Recipient along with many other certificates and awards.  Many in the area recognized her as the voice of boy scouts due to many years gracing the WJMT airwaves with news and announcements on all things related to the Samoset Council.  Karen would agree, the time she spent and the people she met throughout the years played a pivotal role in who she was as a person.

In the race of life, Karen was beat to the finish line by her son, Stephen Rajek, her husband, Gary Rajek, her mother Mary Ann (Kleman) Hinner, and her father Roger Hinner, Sr. Karen’s presence on earth will remain by her children and grandchildren: Richard and daughter, Sara, Rajek (Merrill, WI); daughter in law Amy and children Bryce, Brayden and Britney, Rajek (Merrill, WI);

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