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Longtime F.C. Resident Lenore Karnis Dies at 96

Lenore Karnis

Lenore Fury Karnis died at 96 on Dec. 16, 2019. Lenore will be remembered for many things, perhaps most of all for her generosity. She was a loyal friend to many and was always thinking of other people’s needs and interests and gifting them with homemade food or finding craft supplies to donate to daycare. An excellent cook and baker, everyone especially looked forward to her sweet breads and pumpkin pies at holidays. When she cooked she usually doubled the recipe so there was enough to share with others; food was synonymous with love to her. She was very smart, going back to school to get her GED high school diploma many years ago. Having a keen sense of curiosity she researched many topics and enjoyed sharing new information with others. An avid reader, she loved finding new books at the library or book sales and subscribed to both the Washington Post and the New York Times. Her children and friends were the beneficiaries as she would routinely cut out articles of interest and send them out with a typewritten note or letter informing them of the weather, local happenings and what her cats were up to. She cherished her cats — they were an important part of her life and kept her entertained with their antics. She had a unique personality and expressed her wry sense of humor with comments like: “If they’re giving something away, don’t forget to get one for mother,” and “Had both cats to vet yesterday; bill looks like part of the national debt.”

The matriarch, the glue that held all her children together, she was always there for them, whether for a financial crisis, a health issue or a celebration. She loved her children as well as their friends, and enjoyed their visits. She was also proactive and would take the time to write a company and let them know if she was pleased or displeased with their products or services. She supported many charitable organizations. Even though money was tight, she was able to budget it so there was always food on the table. Loving a bargain and to shop the thrift stores, she also taught her children at a young age to buy quality versus cheaper versions that wouldn’t hold up. She was fascinated with goods from other countries and enjoyed trying new things.

Born Oct. 28, 1923 in Toronto, Canada she did not have an easy childhood and most of the few relatives she had died when she was young. Nonetheless she made her way to the U.S. , found work and eventually got married and settled in Falls Church with plans to have a large family. Raising nine children was no easy feat but she was a skilled homemaker, canning a variety of things and sewing and mending. She could knit, tat lace, had a beautiful voice and played the piano and organ. Faithful to her catholic upbringing, she would start her mornings reading the bible. She was very active in the Falls Church community, serving as secretary of the Northern Virginia District PTA and as chairperson of the Falls Church Citizen’s Advisory Board to Special Education. Other involvements included working the 1980 census and serving as a home health aide to the elderly. When her children were grown she finally had time to travel and looked forward to yearly visits to different parts of the country. She was a trooper, going to Hong Kong and China for her 75th birthday.

Lenore was stoic and looked on the bright side of life. Always healthy it was a shock when she got breast cancer in 2009, followed by ovarian cancer which reoccurred again recently. As she dealt with chemotherapy, on rough days she would always repeat “It will get better.” Her strong will to live and enjoyment of life enabled her to survive ten years after the initial diagnosis. She is survived by her sons Mark Frog (wife Lita) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Thomas in Falls Church; daughters Mary in Weaverville, North Carolina, Margaret in Knoxville, Tennessee, Elizabeth (husband Dan) in Purcellville, Virginia, Dorothy in Lebanon, Oregon, as well as honorary daughter Judy Jensen of Falls Church. Her husband John Oliver predeceased her on Jan. 2, 1995 as did three of her sons; Paul on 1/7/13, Joseph on 8/19/12 and John on 8/27/83. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Jessica, Katherine, Emily, Zachery, Alexandria, and Logan, as well as great grandchild Eliana Rose. She will be greatly missed.

No service is planned at this time.