Karen Krause, who was a registered nurse and a co-chairman of the Toledo Area Jobs with Justice & Interfaith Worker Justice Coalition, died Monday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Toledo. She was 73.
Ms. Krause was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March, said Bob Lynn, her close friend and fellow co-chairman of the Jobs with Justice organization.
“Her passions were fighting for workers’ rights and for health care for all. She felt health care was a human right not a privilege,” said Mr. Lynn.
“It was ironic that she took her last breath at midnight and later that day in Columbus” a panel agreed to accept $2.56 billion in federal funds to pay for the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio, Mr. Lynn said.
He said he believes her presence was in the room with lawmakers in Columbus, continuing her fight for what she saw as just.
“Karen was a special person who always put others before herself. She fought for the disadvantaged and passionately believed that all of Northwest Ohio’s citizens should have access to health care. Her passing is a great loss and she will be missed,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Cleveland).
As a member of the central and executive committees of the Lucas County Democratic Party, Ms. Krause was very active in local and state politics.
She was elected to the Governing Board of the Education Service Center of Lake Erie in 1999 and served 14 years on the board also known as the Lucas County Board of Education.
Ms. Krause was a graduate of Whitmer High School, the school of nursing at Maumee Valley Hospital, and the University of Toledo.
She received a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan and attended UT’s Law School.
A registered nurse by trade, Ms. Krause spent many years working for both the Ohio Department of Health and the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.
She was the first HIV/AIDS program director in the area.
“In the early days of HIV and AIDS, Karen was on the front lines trying to change how people felt about that,” Mr. Lynn said.
The Rev. Larry Clark, pastor at Sylvania First United Methodist Church and faith chairman for Jobs with Justice, said Ms. Krause traveled around the state working on health-care issues.
Part of that work included serving as director of a free homeless health clinic in Toledo, he said.
“She retired early so she could devote herself full-time to social justice work,” he said.
In recent years, Ms. Krause devoted much of her drive and energy to the Jobs with Justice organization.
She and Mr. Lynn organized the Toledo chapter in 2002 and served as co-chairmen. The volunteer organization has been involved in several local campaigns for workers’ rights, including a drive in 2010 to urge Sunoco to change its policy about hiring out-of-state workers at its East Toledo Refinery.
“The local chapter will go on without her but she will be hard to replace,” Mr. Lynn said.
Her brother Richard Krause, said her compassion included her family and that she saved him from a “life on the streets.”
“She was one of those people who actually got involved and didn’t just talk about things," he said.
Mr. Krause moved to Toledo about a year ago after financial problems in Texas.
Ms. Krause invited him to move into her home so that he could get on his feet again, he said.
“She has an extended family, some are related and some are not, she didn’t distinguish,” the Rev. Clark said.
She was well loved, and during the last week of her life many of her friends maintained a 24-hour-a-day vigil outside her room at hospice, he said.
Surviving are brothers Keith, Richard, and David Krause; foster children, Tony Gecik, Daniel, Lisa, and June Hasen, and several foster grandchildren.
Visitation is 2 to 8 p.m. Friday in the Foth-Dorfmeyer Mortuary. Services are at 11 a.m. Saturday at Glenwood Lutheran Church.
The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Area Jobs With Justice & Interfaith Worker Justice organization.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.