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Karen Gebbie

Rhody Family Funeral Home

“And he said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee:

for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”


Karen Beryl (Miller) Gebbie, was born on the 13th of January 1969 at the Sudan Interior Mission station in Bulo Burti, Somalia. Her mother, Helen Frances (Baker) Miller, was descended from pioneers who had traveled the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon. Her father, John Gunson Miller, was born in Saskatchewan, though his roots were in Grey County: his family on his father’s side farmed in Normanby Township, between Neustadt and Ayton; and his mother’s folk came from Durham. John and Helen met, married, and started their own family in Africa: Edith, Karen, and Neil were born there, while David, the youngest, was born in Canada during a furlough.

The first eighteen years of Karen’s life were spent mostly in Africa, first in Somalia, then in Ethiopia, and lastly in Kenya. She attended school from the age of six as a boarder first at Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa and then at Rift Valley Academy (RVA) in Kijabe, northeast of Nairobi. After graduating from RVA, she went to Grove City College in Pennsylvania where she received a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and went on to Linfield College, Oregon, for another Bachelor of Science, this time in nursing. While at Linfield, Karen was proposed and accepted for membership in the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. After college, she worked as a Registered Nurse in Family Practice settings with emphases on pediatrics and telephone triage.

At a church service in Oregon, in August 1995, she was introduced to the visiting preacher from Scotland, one David Douglas Gebbie. The conversation that begun that Sunday morning lasted for the next 28 years. For the first few months, it was by mail and telephone. From November 1995 it was in person and in Portland. Karen and Douglas got engaged on Karen’s birthday, 1996, and married in July of the same year. Catriona “Caty” was born in 1998 and was joined by Iain in 2002. In 2003, the family moved to Chesley where Karen continued to homeschool the children. She joined the S.B.G.H.C. – Chesley Hospital Auxiliary in 2013 and was President from 2017 to 2022. As President, Karen was an ex officio member of the Hospital Foundation. She served as a palliative care volunteer visitor with VON, and she helped with the baking entries at the Fall Fair.

Through helping informally with a family at the school in 2017, Karen met the staff at Chesley and District Community School.  Soon she was asked to join the Educational Assistant (EA) group, first as an emergency supply and later taking on temporary full-time contracts. Karen thoroughly enjoyed her time at the school and made friends of all ages.

Karen liked to keep busy, and that she did. However, in her limited free time, she loved to cross stitch. She was extremely talented and shared her creations with friends and family. Karen was also an avid bird watcher, enjoying several feeders in her own backyard. Rest assured her binoculars and camera were never far away. As an avid reader, Karen loved to lose herself in a good novel, with British author, M. M. Kaye being a favourite. She also enjoyed baking, and in particular baking bread. She perfected her craft through the years, and her delicious bread was definitely missed this past year at the Chesley Fall Fair.

In January 2023, Karen was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which is also known as motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s. From that time, her health rapidly declined until she died at home from the disease on November 29, 2023.  She blogged about her journey at

Dying at home, being visited by people whom she loved, was important to her. The family cannot express how grateful it is to all those of the multi-disciplinary team whose commitment to excellence in care helped fulfil Karen’s wish. Nor could it ever repay the spiritual, emotional, and practical help of friends, neighbours, and the community at large. The support and kindness of staff and pupils at Chesley District Community School were a huge encouragement to her at a time when the disease was taking away from her so many things that she loved to do. The love shown by the congregation of the Presbyterian Reformed Church carried Karen and the family over many rough places.

Beloved wife of Douglas. Loving mother of Caty and Iain. Cherished daughter of John Miller of Toronto and stepdaughter of Freda; sister of Edith Johnson of Indiana, Neil (Ingrid) Miller of Bangladesh, and David (Tenya) Miller of Saskatchewan; aunt of David, Jonathan, and Shoshana; and sister-in-law of Dorothy Gebbie in Scotland. Fondly remembered by her aunts, uncles, and cousins out West, on both sides of the 49th. Predeceased by her mother Helen (Baker) Miller and parents-in-law David and Isabel Gebbie.

Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Monday, December 4, 2023, from 6 – 9 p.m. A funeral service honouring Karen’s life will be held at Presbyterian Reformed Church, Chesley on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at 1 p.m. Interment in Chesley Cemetery.

A major factor in being able to keep Karen at home was the equipment lent at no charge by the ALS Society of Canada.  In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the ALS Society of Canada as expressions of sympathy.

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