Following a brief illness and surrounded by family and friends, Karen Virag died on January 11, 2014, in Edmonton.
Karen is survived by her mother, Jean Virag of Tillsonburg, Ontario–semicolon– her brother, Steve Virag, of Edmonton–semicolon– other family members in Ontario, Belgium and Hungary–semicolon– and her cat, Stanley. Karen is sadly missed by her friends from across Canada and other countries. She was predeceased by her father, Steven Virag, in 1996.
Born and raised in southwestern Ontario’s “tobacco country,” Karen attended the University of Toronto, where she obtained a general studies BA (English, Latin, French) in 1981. Shortly thereafter, she followed her heart to Edmonton. Karen was a glamorous woman who had many passions and was known for her kindness, generosity, wit, imagination and brilliance. She travelled widely, loved languages and was fluent in many. A superb writer and editor, she earned an MA in comparative literature from the University of Alberta in 1996. Karen cherished the power of the written word. She began her writing career as a freelancer and technical writer and became a published author across different genres. For 16 years, Karen was the supervising editor of publications for the Alberta Teachers’ Association. She was half of CBC Radio’s Grammar Gals, a contributor to CBC Radio’s Ideas program, a book reviewer for the Edmonton Journal and a writer for The Tomato. Karen was an ardent supporter of the arts, serving as a board member for Arts on the Avenue, the Editors Association of Canada and the Cultural Human Resources Council of Canada. Karen was one-of-a-kind—she enriched the lives of many people.
Special thanks to Karen’s caring friends, who assisted her at home and in hospital–semicolon– to Dr. Jane Kachope–semicolon– and to the excellent staff of 9Y Unit at Edmonton General Hospital.
Karen was cremated, and her ashes will be returned to Ontario. A Catholic Memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Joseph’s Basilica, 10044–113 Street, Edmonton, on Friday, January 24, at 1:30 p.m. In honour of Karen, mourners are asked to dress in their best black and to wear colourful scarves.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Victoria College, University of Toronto–semicolon– to The Nature Conservancy of Canada–semicolon– or to the Wirth Institute at the University of Alberta, with the memo “in memory of Karen Virag”.