Karen Dittus

July 5, 2020

Karen Beth Dittus, age 74, of Plain City, Ohio, passed away Sunday, July 5, 2020 at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus after suffering a brain hemorrhagic stroke.  She was a cherished friend to many and a revered teacher to countless students.


She was a resilient soul who embodied hope and determination. No obstacle was too great for her!  Growing up in Eastern South Dakota, she lost most of her hearing at age five and eventually lost all of it in 2006.  Nevertheless, she was an exceptional student and with the help of receiving lecture notes from fellow classmates, she excelled in her academic pursuits.  She studied piano and organ in her youth, played for local churches and events, and developed a real love for church music, particularly Lutheran and Methodist hymnody.  She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Music and English Literature from Black Hills State College in 1968.  Professionally, Karen excelled as an educator.  She taught public school in Upton, Wyoming from 1969-1971, and she taught private piano from 1973-2006.  She was an attentive and nurturing piano instructor.  While she loved teaching and celebrating her students’ achievements, she found an even greater joy in getting to know her students and their families.   She was a marvelous teacher to so many young people as several of her students went on to study music at the conservatory level.   In 1970, she received the Outstanding Young Educator Award in Wyoming and the Outstanding Young Woman in America Award.


Karen was an immaculate homemaker who showed hospitality to everyone she met.  She had a genuine interest in others’ lives and could make friends with just about anyone.  A gifted cook and baker, her holiday caramel rolls and homemade cookies were famous among her friends and family, particularly her chocolate chip and ice-box cookies.  She inspired in her children a love for all things culinary.  Both her sons enjoy cooking and baking and carry on her legacy in Christmas Eve Fondue.  She also enjoyed her Norwegian heritage through food – lefse, sandbakkles, and krumkake were common fare for Karen.


Karen was a generous woman who relished in giving gifts as it was truly her “love language.”  Karen eagerly anticipated the Christmas season and started her shopping in January. Her Christmas cards were usually the first ones mailed, immediately after the Thanksgiving dishes were put away. She carefully wrapped each gift, and her wrapping was a work of art that reflected the receiver’s personality and interests.  Her kindness knew no limits.  She was happiest when she was hosting a houseful of people. She cherished one-on-one visits with family and friends, patiently listening for hours to understand their joys and troubles.

She enjoyed traveling with her husband, Doug, and was fortunate to visit Hawaii, England, Scotland, Austria, France, Italy, Mexico and the Caribbean.  Her three sons were all very different from each other, and she had a unique ability to love them individually while encouraging their interests and talents. She instilled confidence in her boys and taught them compassion and the importance of loving others.


Karen was born on August 19, 1945 in Watertown, South Dakota to the late Earl and Lois Anderson Fenner. She was also preceded in death by her oldest son, Lee Dittus in 2003.   She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Doug Dittus, whom she married February 26, 1966 in Summit, South Dakota; two sons, Jason Dittus and his wife Amy Dittus of Whitehouse, Ohio and Jeremy Dittus and his husband Michael McArdle of Denver, Colorado; her grandchildren, Matthew and Meghan; and many other relatives and beloved friends.


A Celebration of Life memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 9, 2020 at First English Lutheran Church, 687 London Avenue, Marysville, Ohio 43040.  Pastor Tonya K. Brittain will officiate. The family will receive friends outdoors immediately following the service until 8 p.m.  Social distancing will be practiced.  Masks will be required and temperatures will be taken before entry into the church building. The service will be broadcast on a viewing screen outdoors for those who wish to bring a lawn chair. A graveside interment will be held at a later date at Rose Hill Cemetery in Spearfish, South Dakota.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the music ministry at First English Lutheran Church. Checks may be made payable to the church with Karen Dittus in the memo line.  Envelopes will be available at the church.  Underwood Funeral Home is assisting the family.   Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.underwoodfuneralhome.com.


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