Karen Fox loved stories—writing them, reading them, performing them: they were at the center of her life. After majoring in English and theater in college, she worked as an English teacher and professional actor. Later she moved to Colorado and held down what she called a “horribly boring” day-job as a technical writer and editor, but it was then that she discovered the magic of storytelling for adults.
At a storytelling festival sponsored by the University of Colorado at Denver, she found her niche: “it [storytelling] incorporates everything I love—writing, drama and teaching,” she once said. She went on to earn a master’s in Creative Arts in Learning and assemble a repertoire of more than eighty stories (the majority of them original), which she performed solo for audiences ranging from mega-corporations to small nonprofits and intimate family celebrations. Her stories combined humor with serious messages about racism and other issues. “My hope is that I’ll make people laugh, cry and think,” she said this past fall. And that’s exactly what happened without fail at her performances, according to a host of testimonials on her website, www.crazysanewoman.com.
At The Academy, Karen found yet more ways to indulge her love of stories. Her first course was Kathy Boyer’s Writing Your Life Stories. “So wonderful! So exciting! It’s not really about writing as much as evoking memories,” she said. “You remember the dog you had as a little girl, your elementary school friends . . .” For Karen, those revived memories—and three years in a spin-off writing group–prompted her to complete her memoirs for her family.
Meanwhile, she twice performed stories for The Academy’s Experts & Entertainers series, began regularly volunteering as a greeter and an E&E class assistant, and registered in more Academy courses. One of her most memorable classes was Dr. Fred Abrams’ Doctors on the Edge course on medical ethics. Rating it as “really fabulous,” she gave it the ultimate storyteller’s compliment: “What a page-turner is to a book, his course is to an ordinary class.” High praise from someone who herself excelled at simultaneously engaging and enlightening audiences.
Karen died unexpectedly in early January. Her stories—those she wrote, those she performed and her own life story—are a legacy that will continue to enrich her family, her friends and all kindred spirits who love stories as much as she did.