1941 Karen 2022

Karen A. Gillen

January 9, 1941 — April 17, 2022

St. Paul


Gillen, Karen (nee Hillstrom), 81, of St. Paul, passed away peacefully at Lyngblomsten Care Center on Sunday, April 17, 2022. She was preceded in death by her husband, Tom; and brothers, Charlie (Alice) and Loren. She is survived by her daughters, Kim (Jan Pariana) Corbey and Nancy (John) McCarty; grandchildren, Tommy, Jack, and Maggie; brother, Rich (Judy) Hillstrom; sister-in-law Jo Hillstrom; special friend, Jerry; nieces and nephews; and many friends.

Born and raised in St. Paul, Karen graduated from St. Paul Central High School where she started the high school hockey on-ice cheerleading in the St. Paul City Conference. She went on to earn her two-year nursing degree from Miller Hospital Nursing School and began her 47 years of nursing at Miller, which later became United Hospital in St. Paul. Karen married Tom Gillen in 1963 and they raised their daughters, Kim and Nancy. During Karen's years as a coronary care nurse, she was a compassionate caregiver and made countless friends throughout the hospital. Karen was widowed at the age of 48, and continued to work at United and volunteer at Our Lady of Peace (formerly Our Lady of Good Counsel Cancer Home) for 20 years.  Even though most of Karen’s nursing career was spent working the nightshift, she still found time to be a dedicated volunteer for schools and churches. She enjoyed sewing, needlework, ceramic classes, golf, knitting, gardening and entertaining.  She loved cheering for The Minnesota Twins and Wild--win or lose. Karen was a supportive grandma, who was always ready to watch her grandkids at a theatre or dance performance, hockey game or swim meet. Karen’s life was rich with friendships which she nurtured through trips, celebrations, lunch dates, laughter and phone calls. Though Karen was widowed at a young age and never remarried, she had meaningful relationships with two wonderful men, Paul Joyce, who preceded her in death and Jerry Lockwood, who came into her life more recently. Thank you to her St. Jude Befrienders, Bridgette and Jan. You gave her emotional and spiritual support at a time when she needed it most. Thank you to the amazing staff at Lyngblomsten Care Center--nurses, aides, therapists--you made her smile and treated her with dignity. Your hard work was deeply appreciated by Karen and her family.


The visitation will be held at 10 AM and the funeral mass at 11 AM on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at St. Jude of the Lake Catholic Church, 700 Mahtomedi Ave, Mahtomedi, MN 55115.   Lunch will be served after the funeral followed by interment at Roselawn Cemetery.

Memorials preferred to Our Lady of Peace; Attn: Lisa Sweeney, 2076 St. Anthony Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55104 or to Children’s Home Society of MN; 1605 Eustis St., St. Paul, MN 55108.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Karen A. Gillen, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

10:00 - 11:00am (Central time)

Plant Tree

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

11:00am - 12:00pm (Central time)

Plant Tree

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Graveside Service

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

2:00 - 2:30pm (Central time)

Plant Tree

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree