Karen Marjorie Pollpeter Brzostoski, 42, passed from this life on Saturday, November 26, 2011 at McDowell Hospital in Marion, North Carolina, less than eight months after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Karen was born the fourth daughter of Elmer and Annette (Stenger) Pollpeter on March 22, 1969, in Burlington, Iowa. She attended the Burlington Area Catholic schools and graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1987.

She studied art at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and also spent nine months in Florence, Italy, studying painting before graduating in 1991 with her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Karen moved to New York City and eventually was able to make her living through her paintings, selling them on the streets of Manhattan. That’s how she met her husband, Matthew Brzostoski, also an artist and painter. They moved to Long Branch, New Jersey, in 2000 and were married on August 29th of that year. They have two beautiful daughters, Rebecca and Gabriella, and they traveled, often as a family, all over the United States selling their paintings at art fairs. In 2005, they made their home in Marion, North Carolina.

Karen home-schooled Rebecca and Gabriella, and she was a member of the homeschooling co-ops in Asheville and Fairview. She was an amazing mother, and her spirit will live on in her daughters. Karen will be remembered by all who met her as a generous, talented, compassionate, and energetic woman. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

She is survived and lovingly remembered by her husband, Matthew Brzostoski; her two wonderful daughters, Rebecca Joy and Gabriella Rose; her parents, Elmer and Annette Pollpeter of Burlington, IA; her four sisters: Cindy (Randy) Gunter of New Glarus, WI, Joan (Tony) Stewart of Naples, FL, Rosalie (Steve) Pappas of Greenwood, IN, Greta (Tony) Mansour of Brooklyn, NY; her brother Nathan (Darja) Pollpeter of London, UK; several nieces and nephews, and one great-nephew.

A memorial service will be held in Burlington next summer. The family has respectfully requested that any contributions be made to the Karen Pollpeter Brzostoski Memorium account, arranged for her young daughters. Cards may be sent to the family at 163 Viewpoint Drive, Marion, NC 28752.

10 thoughts on “Obituary

  1. I was friends with Karen at University of Iowa. We fell out of contact after she moved to New York. She showed up in my dream last night with her bright smile, I thought to look her up today and am sad to learn of her passing. What a remarkable person she was: kind, fun, motivated! I remember an art work she made: it was an octagonal box plywood on the outside mirrors on the inside. I’m so sorry, I’m sure everyone must still miss her so much.

  2. I have just now discovered that Karen left us over two years ago… and it’s nearly impossible to expess my feelings at this moment.
    Karen and I met as art students in Florence, Italy many years ago and became the closest of friends, even sharing an apartment in Iowa City when we returned to the U.S. Eventually she moved to New York and I to Chicago, each of us with the dream of becoming an artist. Sadly we lost touch over the years, as our lives diverged and we gradually grew apart. But my memories of her as SO vivid… her ever-present black beret; sharing a bottle of chianti with her on the steps of the Duomo in Florence; making baked fennel in our little kitchen in Iowa City ( which we purchased at the Co-op behind our house ) ; staying with her in her apartment in Greenwich Village; on and on and on…
    I have some amazing photos of Karen, mostly of her in Italy, if any family members would like to have copies. Please contact me! I would love to hear from any of you and share memories of her.
    With deepest affection,
    Angela Altenhofen

  3. I am deeply sorry for your loss. I just received a card this xmas from Elmer and Annette.

  4. Karen and I were neighbors growing up. I spent a great deal of time at the Pollpeter home playing with Karen and her sister Greta as a child. Karen was a wonderful friend, we spent many days together as children playing games, riding bikes and other wonderful adventures. I have several pictures of Karen and I that took as a child, unfortunately I was not a great photographer and they are all very out of focus. As a child when Karen, Greta and I would color or do some sort of a craft or art project I would always ask Karen what color I should choose her reply was always what ever you want, as long as you like it does not matter. Karen’s entire family remain in my prayers.

    • I remember Karen from St Patrick’s church, and the Burlington Catholic Schools. I’m so sorry to hear of Karen’s passing.

      Kay Whitmore Walker
      Granddaughter of Kathryn Jackson

  5. To Karen’s family,
    I am so sorry to hear about Karen’s passing. I grew up in Burlington with the Pollpeter family. They were all tremendously talented. Cindy was in my class. I remember Karen from both school and church. She was a sweet girl with a gentle way about her. It is not surprising that she would lead such a remarkable life. She will be missed.

    You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
    Lisa Nollen
    Minneapolis, MN

  6. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. We send our sincere sympathy.–The Gilchrists

  7. I grew up just down the street from Karen. I played on her parent’s farm. My sister and I went to school with her, me a year a head; my sister, in her class. Karen will always be remembered to me as a person without a mean bone in her body. She was intelligent, reserved, always had a smile on her face, and was always taller than me! Good to hear you followed your passion. Rest in Peace. – Brad Moss

  8. Elmer and Annette Pollpeter raised wonderful children. We still remember our years as neighbors on Cliff Road. We are truly sorry to hear about Karen’s passing. I know that you will miss her terribly.

  9. To Elmer, Annette, and all of Karen’s family:

    We were shocked and very saddened to learn of Karen’s passing. We were not even aware of her illness.
    Even though we have lived just across the street from her family for over 40 years, and watched all the kids grow up into fine adults, sometimes families are subjected to tragedies that even good neighbors can not help them understand.
    But, Elmer and Annette, we are here for you, and will do whatever we can to help you thru this sad time, whenever you return home.
    For now, though, we do extend your deepest and since sympathy to you and all of Karen’s family.
    May God be with you all, and comfort you during this sad time.

    Elwin and Bonnie Kendell
    Burlington, Iowa

Comments are closed.