Karen Lee Harris obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Karen Lee Harris

January 20, 1949 - June 13, 2017

Obituary


Karen Lee Walker Harris January 20, 1949 - June 13, 2017

Karen Lee Walker Harris, long time Denver area resident, passed away June 13th, 2017. She is survived by her husband of 48 years, James Robert Harris; her three daughters Shannon Hammel, Jill Cook, and Emily Harris; Three sisters Susan Bicknell, Ann Walker, Lynn Barczuk and four grandchildren.

Karen was a remarkable woman. She was born in Los Alamos, NM to Bob and Janis Walker on January 20, 1949. The family moved to Wheat Ridge in 1953 where Karen grew into the extraordinary...

Karen Lee Walker Harris January 20, 1949 - June 13, 2017

Karen Lee Walker Harris, long time Denver area resident, passed away June 13th, 2017. She is survived by her husband of 48 years, James Robert Harris; her three daughters Shannon Hammel, Jill Cook, and Emily Harris; Three sisters Susan Bicknell, Ann Walker, Lynn Barczuk and four grandchildren.

Karen was a remarkable woman. She was born in Los Alamos, NM to Bob and Janis Walker on January 20, 1949. The family moved to Wheat Ridge in 1953 where Karen grew into the extraordinary woman she would be for the rest of her life. She was valedictorian of the class of 1967 at Wheat Ridge High School and was awarded the Boettcher scholarship, created to keep Colorado's brightest minds in-state for college. She attended CU in Boulder where she earned a BA in Math, cum laude, in 1971, and was admitted to Tau Beta Pi and Phi Beta Kappa, one of the very few people recognized by both the engineering and liberal arts honorary societies. She later completed her Master of Architecture at CU Denver in 1991; attaining Tau Sigma Delta and receiving an award of design excellence in 1990.

Karen was a licensed pilot by age 17. She was the first female "line boy" at Jefferson County Airport, and worked as a flight instructor as a teen. The Rocky Mountain News profiled her as the "Wheat Ridge Bird Girl" in 1967 and The Denver Post profiled her in 1972, when she won the Amelia Earhart award from the 99s. She was a pilot through her college years, reporting the metro area rush hour traffic for KHOW radio. She piloted in the 1972 Powder Puff Derby from California to New Jersey.

In 1968 she married Jim Harris. Following Jim's graduate school in Illinois and Maryland, the couple raised their 3 daughters in Aurora, CO.

Karen's architectural career met the same high standards as her early life. Karen was a long-standing member of the AIA Colorado's Government Affairs Committee and was staunchly committed to better the profession and the built environment. Her love of the profession allowed her to step up time after time on these issues. Karen's involvement in the GAC led her to be appointed by the Governor to the Colorado Architect's Licensing Board where she continued to improve the architectural profession she so dearly loved. At AIA Denver she was long active on both the Urban Design and Housing committees, and she was passionate about how slot housing and accessory dwelling units work within the urban fabric.

She was also active in the profession at the national level. She served NAAB as a member and chair of visiting teams reviewing the curriculum at colleges offering degrees in architecture from 2006 through 2010. She was a key member of the NCARB committee that prepared the nationwide licensure examination for Architects from 2006 through her untimely passing. For the national AIA she chaired the Small Projects Forum in 2004, contributed to the 2006 edition of the Handbook of Professional Practice, and served the Continuing Education Development Project.

Karen and Jim designed and built their dream house in Denver, completing construction in 2013. The design was featured in various media for the universal design throughout; both aesthetic and accessible no matter a person's age. The house won the Masterworks in Masonry Grand Award from the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute in 2013, and was featured in The Denver Post, "A House for the Ages," October 31, 2015.

Karen's daughters, Shannon, Jill, and Emily remember their mother as a strong and loving guide always ready with the most clever and creative solution to any problem. Throughout their lives Karen instilled her values of family, hard work, and integrity. In the last decade, she's blessed another generation as Grammy K, doing what she described as the best job in the world. She was the most wonderful and devoted grandmother anyone could wish for. She will be missed.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm Saturday, June 17 at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. 5400 S. Yosemite Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of your choice.

Arrangements under the direction of Olinger Crown Hill Mortuary, Cemetery & Arboretum, Wheat Ridge, CO.