Register of deeds Karsten remembered as a positive force

by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor

Friends, family and coworkers remembered the positive influence of county register of deeds Kathy Karsten. She passed away Oct. 12 at the age of 56 of complications after surgery at McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey.

Judge Donald J. McLennan stand before a group of courthouse employees gathered to remember register of deeds Kathy Karsten who passed away Oct. 12.
Judge Donald J. McLennan stands before a group of courthouse employees gathered to remember register of deeds Kathy Karsten who passed away Oct. 12. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

Courthouse employees gathered around the memorials on the courthouse grounds Friday morning to remember Karsten. Probate judge, the honorable Donald J. McLennan led the remembrance, as many came dressed in purple to honor her.

“Kathy was a very professional lady who was a part of our family here at the county courthouse. She was with us for too short of time. Kathy was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, and a co-worker. She was our register of deeds. She was an integral part of our courthouse community,” said McLennan. “We are fortunate to remember her through the eyes of the two people who worked most closely with her.”

He then read from written remarks prepared by Karsten’s coworkers in the register of deeds office, chief deputy Danielle Kuznicki and deputy register Vicky Kowalewsky.

“Danielle and Vicky found that Kathy was very accepting of people. She was someone who was always willing to help others and she was always willing to go the extra mile for most anyone. She didn’t want her staff stressing out about things and if something came up, she was always accommodating,” McLennan said.

One of the last texts the two got from Karsten said “no worries,” a phrase used by Karsten frequently, he said.

Kathleen S. Karsten
Kathleen S. Karsten

Kuznicki and Kowalewsky wrote that Karsten was a conscientious, goal-oriented person, full of energy and a positive attitude that she shared with those around her.

County clerk Ann Marie Main remembered Karsten as a positive force in the courthouse.

“I am still in denial and shock.  For the first few years of my term I stayed many late nights getting things caught up and still do sometimes but I have started to find that balance of family and work. So when Kathy took over she was the one staying late nights. I would stop in and tease her about it on my way out the door. It would be just for a moment, but next thing you knew 30 minutes or so had gone by and we had covered topics from all spectrums of life, work family, world issues, crafts and dreams.  I will greatly miss those conversations and her energy she brought to our organization.  She truly made you feel appreciated when you needed it most,” Main said.

Michigan statutes specify that a committee of three make the appointment of a successor: the probate judge, county clerk and prosecuting attorney. McLennan, Main and prosecuting attorney Ken Radzibon will take on that task in the coming days.

“I will be placing an ad in the Advance soon and accepting applications.  No other details are concrete yet, but the ad should list them out once I meet with the others to determine our timelines. Due to the length of time the vacancy will only go until the 2018 election at which time the seat will be open for voting.  That term will then end in 2020 like the other four-year positions,” Main said.

Karsten is believed to be the first county elected official to pass away while in office since Oct. 29, 1979 when sheriff Duane Badder was killed in the line of duty.

She is survived by her husband Jeff; daughter Mandy; son Zach; granddaughter Amber Lyn; parents Marvin and Joyce Pauly and brothers Allen (Kathy) and Scott (Kim) Pauly. Her son Jordan preceded her in death.

Friends may visit at the Beck Funeral Home Saturday, Oct. 14 from 3-8 p.m. where Pastor Charles Schultz will conduct a prayer service at 7 p.m. Visitation will resume Sunday at Peace Lutheran Church from noon until time of service at 1 p.m. with Pastor J. Derek Riddle officiating.

A full obituary will appear in the Oct. 19 edition of the Advance.