Cover photo for Karen Syverson's Obituary
Karen Syverson Profile Photo
1946 Karen 2020

Karen Syverson

November 1, 1946 — June 4, 2020

Madison - SFC Karen Ilene Syverson {Ret} passed away at her home in Madison, WI, on Thursday, June 4, 2020. Karen led a full life and will be missed by so very many friends and loved ones from across the country.  She was born on November 1, 1946, in the house where her life ended on June 4 this year.  She experienced her primary and high school years in Wisconsin, Texas, and Arkansas and graduated from Lake Hamilton High School in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

After graduation, Karen played guitar and bass with several groups in Hot Springs Arkansas and attended Little Rock University.  She returned to Madison and attended the University of Wisconsin.

In 1973 Karen joined the United States Army and completed her Basic Training at Ft. McClellan, Alabama. She was then assigned to the 14th Army Womens Army Corps Band, the only all-female band in the U.S.Army, earning a MOS in both guitar and French horn.  When on parade, the Corps marched to the beat of Karen's bass drum. Although she was assigned to other posts during her Army career and was awarded an M-16 Sharpshooter badge and an Expert .45 Caliber badge, her love of and allegiance to the Womens Army Corps Band was of the highest degree. Karen was co-founder and organizer of the WAC Band Reunions that began in 2004 and have occurred bi-annually since. Karen participated in these reunions as an announcer, creator of the special music to open the concert, driver of the equipment truck, leader of the dance band, maintained the database for the roster, and so much more. Karen provided the lifeblood for these reunions that she so loved.

After retiring from the Army in 1993, Karen moved to Weaver, AL, and utilized another of her many talents.  She drove an 18-wheel big rig truck for C&W Transport, Alabama, until she retired in 2005 to return to Madison to care for her aging mother.

Once she was settled in Madison, Karen joined the Ladies Must Swing Band, a 19-piece all-female jazz band specializing in WWII era music as a guitarist. Playing with these ladies helped fulfill her life-long desire of "making music with my friends."

In recent years Karen and her partner, Jan Larson, joined the Dimensions In Sound Studio Orchestra playing French horn and flute, respectively.  She entered this endeavor as she did everything with great enthusiasm and energy, and it brought her great happiness.

Karen was preceded in death by her father, Alfred John Syverson; her mother, Roberta ({Bobye} Brinkley Syverson; and younger sister Christine D. Syverson.

She is survived by her partner, Jan Larson of Madison; one younger sister, Janene Kassaw; brother-in-law Marshall Kassaw; 2 nephews, Derek Johnson and Marshall Douglas (Doc) Kassaw; grandnephew, Peyton; and grandnieces, Kayla and Olivia.

Graveside services will be held at Forest Hills Cemetery, Veteran's Section, on Friday, June 12, at 10:00 a.m.

For Karen, it was always all about the music.

Cress Funeral & Cremation Services

3610 Speedway Road

(608) 238-3434

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Karen Syverson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Friday, June 12, 2020

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

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