Cherry Blossoms

Karen G. Bylenga

June 29, 1956 ~ March 27, 2022 (age 65)


Loving wife and mother, Karen G Bylenga passed away on March 27, 2022 in her Kalamazoo home, surrounded by her husband and all her children. She was born in Kyoto, Japan in June 1956 on an air force base while her father was a Captain there. Karen grew up in Traverse City, MI where she was a beloved cheerleader.  In Ann Arbor, MI she met her husband by tripping him at the University of Michigan freshman orientation. They went out on their first date the next day and talked about Kurt Vonnegut’s book Breakfast of Champions. Jim and Karen got married in 1977 and took a VW camper across the country for 2 months. After graduation from U of M, they moved straight to Chicago where Karen worked as a manager at Elizabeth Arden while Jim traded on the stock options exchange. Shortly after the birth of their daughter in 1979, they moved to East Grand Rapids, MI. Karen gave birth to their son in 1982 in EGR.  After 2002, Karen and Jim moved to Kalamazoo, where she lived out the remainder of her life. She was filled with wonder and excitement at Christmas; it was a joy to be in her presence every holiday. Karen had a great capacity to love and to find joy in her husband & family – and in things others may take for granted – sunshine, birds, flowers. One of her distinguishing characteristics was her perseverance and resiliency.  Karen loved her time as a docent at the Frederik Meijer Gardens.  Services will be held on May 22, at 3pm EST at the First Congregational Church, 6105 Center Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.  We are hoping to establish a tribute item in Karen’s honor, so when making your gift, please be sure to mention it is “in honor of Karen Bylenga.” . Arrangements were entrusted to Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services. Please visit to view the online obituary, sign the guest book, or leave messages for the family. 

To send flowers to Karen's family, please visit our floral store.


Memorial Service
May 22, 2022

3:00 PM
First Congregational Church
6105 Center Rd.
Traverse City, MI 49686


Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525
Tel: 1-616-975-3177

© 2022 Kempf Funeral Homes. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility