By Andrea Cordle
Many on the Westside knew Karen Lorenz.
She was the Westgate blockwatch coordinator for more than 17 years. She was a teacher. She was active in the theater and she loved animals. Lorenz died last September from cancer. She was 68 years old.
Bea Murphy and Patty Orlov from the Westgate neighborhood are determined to keep Karen’s memory alive. The two women are trying to raise funds for a memorial at Westgate Park in Karen Lorenz’s honor.
“Karen was just a great person,” said Murphy. “She was so good to my sons.”
Lorenz taught at Central High School when all three of Murphy’s sons attended. Two of her sons had Lorenz as an English teacher; one had her for drama.
Lorenz met her longtime friend Jackie Bates through the theater.
“Karen was an extremely loyal friend,” said Bates. “She had a wicked sense of humor.”
Bates said Lorenz had a love for theater. She directed numerous high school plays while teaching at Central and Briggs, as well as other local schools.
Bates said Lorenz would always help an animal in need. She said if Lorenz saw a cat or dog outside by itself, she would stop to see if it had identification. If the animal did not, Lorenz would make sure it was taken care of.
“She was allergic to cats, but she still had them,” said Bates. “Her pets were dear to her heart.”
Lorenz may have had a soft spot for animals, but she was tough when it came to keeping her neighborhood safe.
Cynthia Anderson, a Westgate resident and friend of Lorenz, said the former blockwatch coordinator knew crime was creeping in and wanted to do something about it.
“Karen was a workhorse,” said Anderson. “She put in unrelenting efforts to get people to pay attention.”
Anderson said Lorenz knew almost everyone in the Westgate community and truly cared about her neighborhood.
“She was a real gift to the community,” said Anderson.
Murphy and Orlov plan to plant a red oak tree near the new shelter house at Westgate Park in honor of Lorenz.
Murphy said she chose a red oak because she thought it fitting.
“They are strong and they last a long time,” said Murphy.
Murphy said they also want to install an engraved plaque by the tree.
“Karen was just so deserving of a memorial,” said Murphy. “She ran a heck of a blockwatch.”
Murphy and Orlov want to raise $500 for the tree and the plaque. They are planning a public ceremony in the fall, but a date has not been set.
Those interested can donate to the Karen Lorenz Memorial Fund at any Huntington National Bank branch.