Obituary: Karen “Smitty” Henriksen (née Smith)

September 10th, 1953~July 7th, 2022

Karen “Smitty” Henriksen (née Smith), age 68, died peacefully on July 7th in Tucson, Arizona. Her quick wit and deep kindness will be missed by all who knew her.

Karen was born in Wisconsin Rapids, WI to Marvelyn and Bernard Smith on September 10th, 1953. The third of three daughters, she rounded out the party started by Sandy and Sue. She attended Assumption High School and was a member of the cheerleading squad, something you might not believe if you met her later in life, but we have the photos to prove it!

A born creative and explorer, Karen left home to study ceramics and silversmithing at the University of Arizona. Her time in Tucson was filled with a raucous friend group, music, art, and working as a manager of Lucky Supermarkets, a role that introduced her to many lifelong friends.

She returned to Wisconsin to be nearer to family and found herself in Door County, where she met Charlie Henriksen. Married for 15 years, they built Henriksen Fisheries, and a family together, welcoming Elly in ‘88 and Will in ‘91.

Karen reprised her role as cheerleader for her children, going above and beyond to attend more baseball, softball, basketball, cross country, track, football and musical theater events than should be humanly possible.

Her creativity never waned and she was known for making delicate and intricately decorated Ukrainian pysanky easter eggs in a south-western art deco style. They have been collected around the world and fill the homes of her family and friends.

After her children graduated from high school she returned to Tucson to enjoy the sunshine and company of old friends. A forever friend to animals, she spent her free time volunteering at the Tucson Wildlife Center, feeding abandoned bunnies and baby javelinas.

She is survived by her children; Elly Henriksen and partner Kristian Næsby, Will Henriksen and wife Kristie (née Moss), her sisters; Sue (Vic) Simpson and Sandy (Tom) Achteberg, as well as a brood of loving nieces and nephews. 

A celebration of life will be held for Karen at Alexander’s in Fish Creek, Wisconsin on July 30th at 11am, followed by a luncheon. Cheerleading photos will be present.

In lieu of flowers please consider making a gift to the Tucson Wildlife Center in her honor. Condolences can be sent to 11214 Sand Bay Ln, Sister Bay, WI 54234.