Karen Louise (Schreiber) Garland


On Friday, March 18, 2022, our dear mother, wife, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, coworker, and neighbor, Karen Louise (Schreiber) Garland, 80, of Malta, Esmond, Ill., and Ottertail, Minn., surrendered to heart failure after a heroic 18-month battle with advanced AL Amyloidosis. She was surrounded by her loving family for the last beat of her tired and battered heart, at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, DeKalb.

Karen was born on Feb. 10, 1942, in Rockford, to Elton and Helen (Knodle) Schreiber. Later to join the family were brothers, Gary and Dennis, and sister, Lolly. At the family homestead in rural Leaf River, IL, Karen bonded with and raised her precious and beautiful Mallard ducks. This would also be the place where she played and frolicked with adored cousins. Coming from a family of musicians, Karen sang and played several musical instruments, with an emphasis on the clarinet. Upon graduation from Leaf River High School in 1960, Karen ventured to DeKalb, where she was enrolled with scholarships into the NIU School of Music. Educational courses also included English and Grammar, to which she had a plethora of natural knowledge and exceptional skills.

In 1961, while continuing musical coursework with the revered Dr. Wilbur Smith, Karen became a telephone operator at the DeKalb Phone Co. This is when she would meet her future husband, Roger, and a few of many valued future sisters in law! In 1962, Karen gained employment as a staff secretary for the NIU Department of Physical Education. Roger and Karen were married March 20, 1963, in Higdon, Arkansas. Along came 2 sons, Dan and Tim. After a brief move and stay in Decatur, IL, the young family returned to the Dekalb area, settling in Malta, where they added a daughter, Lori, to the clan. Malta would become their permanent home for the next 5 decades. Karen returned to the NIU Department of Physical Education, and quickly rose to the position of Departmental Chair Secretary, where she would remain until retirement in the late 1990’s. She did not actually retire though, taking positions as Administrative Secretary in the NIU President’s Office, and then an Administrative Assistant for the NIU Outreach Program. In 1988, Karen was one of four, out of thousands, to earn a prestigious NIU Operating Staff Award. In the 1990’s, former mentor Dr. Smith recruited Karen to join the Dekalb Municipal Band as a clarinetist. Also, in the early 2000’s, Karen served as Administrative Secretary for the Malta United Methodist Church. She also enjoyed family tree history and creating the Morgan Family Reunion newsletters. She was an avid gardener, home repair person and decorator, who beautified anywhere she ventured!

Karen loved spending time raising her two grandchildren, Shane and Mercedes, often spending the entire summer with them at the Schreiber family cabin (now lovingly named The Garland Retreat) in Ottertail, Minn. In the 50 years of visiting the cabin, the loons have always given her solace. Many friends and family visited throughout the years, and Roger and Karen formed many friendships in the Ottertail area, including the Torrance and Ahlfs families, and David Neumeister. She also delighted in the ocean and enjoyed being a “snowbird” in the Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Fla., area, where she and Roger met many significant friends.

Throughout her childhood and adulthood, Karen was known to be shy, super sweet, kind, supportive, understanding and always an extremely hard worker. She was also the family photographer, always around to snap a picture. We all will miss her so much! She was our rock and the strongest person her family will ever know.

Survivors include her husband, Roger Garland, her sons, Daniel Garland and Timothy (special daughter in law Doreen Schmidt) Garland, daughter Lori (special son in law, Mario Rodriguez) Garland Rodriguez, grandson Shane (special friend Sharvelle Gunn) Garland-Rodriguez and granddaughter Mercedes Rodriguez. Great-grandchildren, Taelynn, Logan and Dallas Garland-Rodriguez, brothers Gary Schreiber and Dennis Schreiber, close cousins, Jan, Carol and Lois, several sisters in law, nieces and nephews, family friend Charlotte Swanson, and not to forget her pup, (Pretty Boy) Chance. Karen was preceded in death by her parents and a sister, Laurel (Lolly) Ann, in infancy, father and mother in law, James and Orpha (Morgan) Garland, several brothers/sisters in law, 2 nephews and a niece.

In lieu of services, Karen requested her cremated remains be spread over the graves of her fiercely loved parents and baby sister, at a date yet to be determined. Her family requests any special comments or memories of Karen via the online obituary guestbook.

A memorial fund has been established at the Finch Funeral Home, DeKalb, IL, for future educational expenses for her very much treasured and adored great grandchildren. Arrangements were entrusted to: Finch Funeral Home 310 Oak St. DeKalb, IL, 60115 (815) 758-3841.