SEQUIM — Long-time Sequim city clerk Karen Kuznek-Reese has died.
She was 60.
Robb Reese, Karen’s husband, said she was home with family after recently returning from the University of Washington for treatment through the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for complications with metastatic breast cancer when she died Nov. 14.
Charisse Deschenes, acting city manager, said Monday that Kuznek-Reese had “a unique ability to connect with everyone.”
“She was the heart of the organization,” Deschenes said.
“She had a positive attitude and took time to talk to everyone. She genuinely cared about people.”
Kuznek-Reese served as Sequim city clerk from May 6, 1998, to Sept. 3, 2019.
Sequim council members agreed to rename the Sequim Civic Center entrance/gallery the Karen Kuznek-Reese Gallery on Oct. 28 for her contributions to the city and Sequim’s art community.
A memorial service for Kuznek-Reese is set for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1, at the John Wayne Marina, 2577 W. Sequim Bay Road.
Reese said he and Karen were married there 15 years ago.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made in her name to the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula or Seattle Children’s Hospital.
City staff and members of the City Arts Advisory Commission will host a dedication and ribbon-cutting in the Civic Center, 152 W. Cedar St., to honor the new name of the gallery after Kuznek-Reese.
The ceremony will begin at 5:15 p.m. Dec. 6 followed by a lighting of the city’s tree at 6 p.m.
Family members said Kuznek-Reese was born in Tacoma and raised in Port Orchard before relocating to Sequim with her daughter Alicia in 1988. Ten years later, she was chosen to work with the city.
In her career, she helped pioneer the City Arts Advisory Commission, coordinate Music in the Park and Sequim’s Centennial Celebration, coordinate city council meetings, manage records and lead the volunteer program.
Friends say she was incredibly friendly and loved all kinds of art, and family said she enjoyed traveling, gardening, making jewelry and cooking.
“She leaves a big hole in the heart of the city,” Deschenes said.
Kuznek-Reese is survived by her husband, her mother Helen Kuznek, brother Martin Kuznek, sister-in-law Terri Peterson, daughter Alicia Neal, stepchildren Dustin (Siobhan) Reese, Derek (Lindsay) Reese, Brittany (Rusty) Terry, Tiffany Reese and 15 grandchildren.
For more information about the ribbon-cutting/dedication, contact Arts Coordinator Cyndi Hueth at 360-582-2477 or [email protected]
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected]