Cover photo for Karen Gentile's Obituary
Karen Gentile Profile Photo

Karen Gentile

Karen Margaret Gentile died unexpectedly in her home in Plainwell, Michigan on Tuesday, April 2nd.  Karen was born on April 5, 1946 in Muskegon, Michigan, the daughter of Charles and Margaret (Schaefer) Gassman.  She graduated from Muskegon High School in 1964 and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Michigan State University in 1967.  On July 8, 1967, she married Joseph F. Gentile in the MSU Alumni Chapel in East Lansing.

She is survived by her husband; a daughter Kristen (Richard) Workman of Cincinnati, Ohio; a son, David (Paula Veverica) Gentile of Belleville, Michigan; five grandchildren – Kaitlyn, Christopher, and Abigail Workman, and Alexander and Eva Gentile; a brother, Dennis Gassman of Salt Lake City; a sister-in-law, Judith (Kenneth) Bunge of San Juan Capistrano, California; three nephews, one niece, three grand nephews, four grand nieces, and several cousins.  She was preceded in death by a sister-in-law, Carolyn (Hensler) Gassman.

During her very active life, Karen was passionate about the arts and all things natural.  She dedicated her life to raising and supporting her children in their many interests – and then rededicating her life to bond with her grandchildren.  Since retiring to Plainwell with her husband in 2003, she was an active member of the Western Hills Garden Club, Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc., National Garden Clubs, Inc. and the National Wildlife Foundation.  She served in several executive positions in these organizations, including President, District III Director (with responsibility for over 20 western Michigan Garden Clubs) and Fourth Vice President.  In these capacities, she received several awards and commendations including being named a Life Member of the Michigan Garden Club and a Life Member of the National Garden Club.

Karen loved all sports, but particularly hockey, figure skating, football, baseball, and college basketball.  She was a voracious reader and a creative writer.  She completed a biography of her husband’s paternal immigrant grandmother, several narratives about her extensive travels, and was finishing her autobiography at the time of her death.  She also was an accomplished artist, specializing in water colors.  Her favorite paintings depict the flora and fauna of the Lake Doster area.

The family will receive friends from 2 PM until 7 PM on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 (and from 10 to 11 AM the next day for those traveling long distances) at the Winkel Funeral Home in Otsego, Michigan.  A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at the Winkel Funeral Home.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in Karen’s name to the charity of your choice, or to the Western Hills Garden Club, 89 South Lake Doster, Plainwell, Michigan  49080.  Please include in the memo line “Karen Gentile Memorial”.  Messages of condolence may be posted at


Offer Condolence for the family of Karen Gentile

Condolence Messages

Randy Beals

April 5, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Please accept my deepest sympathy.


Mary Beth Montague

April 5, 2019 at 6:06 pm

Met Karen this year while working

as a director of the Kalamazoo

garden council.

She was a very warm and lovely

Woman and very dedicated to

The council. So sorry for your



Nancy Dressler

April 5, 2019 at 6:29 pm

So very sad to learn that Karen has passed away. She was a great role model, kind spirit, and wonderful lady. The angels must be rejoicing in heaven now that one of their own has joined them.


Mariae K. Firlit

April 6, 2019 at 8:01 am

Prayers and sympathy to Joe and the family at the sudden passing of Karen. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord…. Cousin Mariae Firlit



April 6, 2019 at 1:37 pm

You have my deepest sympathy on the passing of your wife, mother, grandmother, and loved one– Karen. What a shock!. I have very fond memories of her and all that she did for Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc.


Betty M. Assmann

April 6, 2019 at 1:49 pm

So very sorry to get the news of Karen’s passing.

She was a kind and gentle person.

There is one big spot in Garden Club

that can never be filled

My sincere condolences to her family



Barbara Winter

April 6, 2019 at 3:46 pm

I am sorry to hear of Karen’s passing..she will be missed not only by her family but by the Garden Council. Such a positive person.


Greg & Melanie Kurdys

April 6, 2019 at 5:23 pm

We are very sorry for your loss. Karen will be missed. The flowers that emerge this Spring will serve as fond remembrance.


Bobbie Quick

April 6, 2019 at 10:12 pm

It was always a pleasure to spend time with Karen, she always had such a positive attitude and a welcoming spirit.

I am sure she will sit beside God trying to help him understand ‘lawn care’ here on earth.


Amanda Domijan Goerke

April 6, 2019 at 11:21 pm

Mrs. Gentile was truly an amazing woman. She will always hold a special place in my heart, as well as my entire family’s. I have such fond memories of her and will always remember how much she taught me. My heart goes out to Mr. Gentile, Kristen, David and their families. I’m so very sorry..


Carol Swinko Higbee

April 7, 2019 at 12:17 am


Sorry to hear of your wife’s passing. God be with you at this time.



Elizabeth Berlin

April 7, 2019 at 6:56 am

So sorry to hear of Karen’s passing. I remember her as a very kind and gentle person. We will keep the family in our prayers.

Liz and Otto Berlin

Hobson West neighbors


Pierina Holcomb

April 7, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Dear Joe and family,

So saddened to hear of Karen’s passing. I’ve always admired her many talents and thoughtfulness. Love and prayers to you all.



Joyce and Jim Clarke

April 7, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Dear Joe and family,

Our deepest sympathy in the loss of Karen’s passing! I remember her as a talented, kind and loving person!

Love and prayers to all.

Joyce and Jim Clarke

Hobson West Neighbors


Dave and Cairon Kirk

April 7, 2019 at 4:55 pm

To Joe and all the family –

We are so saddened by Karen’s death. She was always a joy to be around and we have fond memories of her love of nature and family.


April Carmody and Family

April 7, 2019 at 9:18 pm

Dear Joe and Family,

May God embrace you all in His comforting arms. I only met Karen a few times, but her warm welcome into your home and our conversation about pizza baking were delightful.

You are in our thoughts and prayers!


Derek & JoAnne Veverica

April 7, 2019 at 10:11 pm

David & Paula, Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts and prayers will be with the family during this great loss. We are very saddened by the news and will hold you up in prayer. Hugs and much love to you and yours..


Craig and Irene Rogerson

April 8, 2019 at 5:31 pm

Dear Joe and family,

Irene and I offer our deepest condolences on your loss. Karen was full of energy and always made us feel welcome. She will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege to know her.

You and yours are in our thoughts and prayers in this difficult time.


Craig and Irene


Marilyn McIntosh

April 8, 2019 at 6:28 pm

It was my pleasure to serve with Karen on the Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc. Board of Directors. In all elected officer positions held, she radiated warmth and grace. She will be missed. My condolences to her family.


Penny Corcoran

April 9, 2019 at 1:05 am

Joe and Family

Our sincere and heartfelt thoughts are with you during this time of loss. We remember many fun times with all of you during our Hobson West days.

Pat and Penny Corcoran


Judy & Dick Joslin

April 9, 2019 at 1:35 am


Dick and I send our prayers and deepest sympathy to you and your family.

Karen’s warmth and gracious hospitality will be remembered by many of us here at Lake Doster.

We are so sorry for your loss. God Bless Karen’s soul.


Nicole Haley & Family

April 9, 2019 at 12:05 pm

David, your mom seemed like such a ray of sunshine and I adored meeting her at your wedding. We are so saddened by your family’s loss and hope you all can find comfort in the many great memories I’m sure you have. We’ve made a donation to the Michigan Garden Clubs in your mom’s honor. Sending you peace and warm thoughts. XO, the Haley Family


Kathy Bell Bakewell

April 9, 2019 at 3:03 pm

To Joe and family,

There are no words to adequately express our sympathy. Just know there are so many who will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

Kathy Bell Bakewell


Larry and Agnes Drzal

April 9, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Dear Joe,

Our words cannot fully express the sorrow we feel after learning about the death of your beloved wife, Karen. May you ever treasure the wonderful times you have had with her. Although we are unable to be with you tonight and tomorrow, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Larry and Agnes Drzal


Daryl Lynne and Allan Etzbach

April 9, 2019 at 6:40 pm

Joe, Kristen and David,

Both Allan and I can’t believe that our dear friend is gone. She will be missed. You are in our thoughts and prayers.


Daryl Lynne and Allan


Florence Smith

April 10, 2019 at 10:07 am

My deepest sympathy to all of the family.

Karen was a wonderful kind person and so pleasant to be with.

She was an asset to Michihan Garden Clubs.

Florence Smith


Kathleen & John Schaefer

April 10, 2019 at 12:41 pm

So sorry to hear of the passing of our cousin Karen. You are all in our prayers. May she Rest In Peace.

Kathleen &John Schaefer


Martin Hawley and Diana D’Angelo

April 10, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Dear Joe, Kristen and David,

We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of your beloved wife Karen who was our dear friend. We have many great memories of her and always enjoyed her company and hospitality. As you know we will miss her and her enthusiasm especially for her children and grandchildren. We offer our deepest condolences on you great loss.

Diana and Marty


zadie jackson

April 14, 2019 at 7:37 am

A lovely lady. A beautiful smile. May she rest in peace.


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