Karen Anderson, 46, known for her "tremendous amount of energy," her involvement in founding and maintaining the Foothill College Art Club and her passion for raising chickens, died along with her 5-year-old daughter, Amelia Noelle Arago, of an apparently accidental drowning in a frozen-over pond near her Pine Grove, Calif., home on Jan. 27.
Friends, colleagues and acquaintances of Anderson say she is survived by her five children, Marc Anderson, Michael Anderson, Christina Johns, Christopher Johns and Amelia Anderson. Most of her children still live in Mountain View and Palo Alto, and are struggling to scrape together funds for funeral expenses and other estate-related costs in the wake of their mother's death, they said.
"Karen left a mountain of debt and no assets to speak of because she was a struggling single mom," Susan Daniel told the Voice. "This family is part of our community and they desperately need our help."
Joe Ragey, an instructor in the fine arts and communications department at Foothill, said Karen Anderson was "instrumental" in the formation of the college's art club. Serving as president one year and then treasurer another, Ragey said Anderson's "tremendous energy and passion convinced others to participate in activities that went far beyond what we normally expect of students."
"One of those tasks ... was to convince the (art club) to sand down and refinish the tables in our lab, a huge job that would not have been accomplished otherwise," he recalled.
Robin Kramer, a band teacher at Mountain View High School, said she was familiar with Anderson, because she taught her son, Michael. "She was a very sweet lady," she said.
According to Kramer, Michael, 19, has found himself strapped with responsibility not commonly handled by people his age. "She was the only real family he had," Kramer said.
While Anderson had several other children, the younger ones are being taken care of by their father, Kramer said, while Michael has few adults he can lean on.
Kramer said she has been working with Michael to help him set up a donation fund to help him pay for his mother's funeral and to help him deal with any of his mother's creditors who may come calling him. Kramer said she insisted on helping set up a scholarship fund for Michael. He is a young man with great promise, she said — "Whatever he does, he does it brilliantly, and with no fanfare."
She said it would be tragic if his mother's untimely death were to prevent him from living up to his potential.
Anyone interested in helping the family may email Kramer at firstname.lastname@example.org.