Residents Gather to Celebrate the Life of Karen Wepsic

Special to the Gazette

Sam Johnson Photo

Last Saturday afternoon, friends and family gathered at the Loring Greenough House to celebrate the Life and Service of long-time Jamaica Plain resident Karen Wepsic, who passed away on October 15, 2022. The Invocation and Benediction were given by Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird of the First Baptist Church.  Other speakers who spoke were from the Footlight Club, MIT Sailing, Fenway Garden Society, Peterborough Senior Center, the Jamaica Pond Association, and the Mission Hill and Fenway/South End neighborhoods. The following is taken from the memorial booklet that was available:  Karen Wepsic was born 1938, the only child of parents Nils Okland (sea captain) and Sofie Okland of Norway; Raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Elementary school PS104, Karen maintained a “Victory Garden” in Brooklyn, an activity she would carry with her to Boston. She moved, with her family to Elmont, Long Island and attended Sewanhaka High School. Upon graduation she enrolled and matriculated from Cornell graduating with a degree in Chemistry. She had a long science-orientated career including as a lab assistant at Woods Hole Oceanographic in 1959. She obtained a Doctorate (PhD) from Yale in 1967 in BioPhysics. Her thesis, using radioactive thymidine, evidenced that chromosomal DNA could replicate while in circular form. Her thesis was published while attending the MGH School of Nursing, where she graduated as an RN in 1968. At MGH she worked in the recovery room. She continued working at MGH through the birth of her only child and son, Eric. Karen was a Hospital Albert Schweitzer volunteer in Haiti in 1972. She was a staff member at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Biochemistry from 1978-2012. A fixture in Jamaica Plain and dedicated to community service, Karen served on a variety of local community organizations, including The Footlight Club; Arborway Committee, Jamaica Pond Association, MBTA Riders hip Oversight Committee, Fenway Victory Garden, MIT Sailing, Friends of Melnea Cass Boulevard and others. She loved her community and neighbors. Notwithstanding her tremendous intellect, she always served humbly, selflessly and faithfully. She touched many during her travels across the City of Boston. Her presence was felt in several neighborhoods including Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, the Fenway, South Boston and Roxbury. The Galway House was a place where she held strategy and organizational meetings, broke bread with friends and enjoyed a Manhattan or Pint. She was an exceptional friend, colleague, committee member and community activist. Karen will be remembered as warm and iconoclastic. She projected love and was loved by all whom she touched. Karen is survived by Eric Wepsic, and her two grandchildren in New York City.

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