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Karen Pharis Vaughn
April 6, 1935 ~ November 7, 2023 (age 88) 88 Years Old
On November 7, 2023 Karen Pharis Vaughn, aged 88, passed away peacefully at home at Charlestown Retirement Community, surrounded by family. She is survived by her beloved husband of 59 years DeWitt “Chuck” Charles Vaughn, Jr.; daughters Elizabeth Vaughn Eubanks, Katherine Laura Vaughn, and Susan Karen Vaughn-Ward; and grandchildren Adam Mohamed El Hani, Maria Noama El Hani, Sukayna Khadija El Hani, and Phillip Charles Vaughn Ward.
Karen was born on April 6, 1935 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Donald J. Carlisle, Sr. and Frances Ollie Merritt. She is the sister of the late Donald J. Carlisle, Jr. and Carle Johnson of Indian Hills, Colorado and Wausa Nebraska, respectively. Karen and DeWitt Charles were married at the First Baptist Church in Bloomington, Indiana in 1964. She was previously married in 1956 to the late Ralph F. Moreland, Jr., who died in 1961.
Karen moved to the Catonsville, Maryland area in 2016, but for the previous 47 years she and DeWitt Charles had lived in Lexington Park, Maryland. A passionate and prolific still life and “plein aire” landscape painter, during her years in St. Mary’s County Karen could often be seen painting on her easel alongside roads and at locations across the county, and was well known to many local Mennonite farmers who would call out encouragement as she painted the flowers in their fields. Karen was a longtime member of the North End Gallery in Leonardtown, Maryland, and her oil, watercolor, and pastel paintings grace homes and businesses across Maryland. Her prints of the legendary Tiki Bar on Solomons Island was a particular favorite of gallery patrons, and the original painting was purchased by a local bank. However, Karen’s works also captured images that were slowly disappearing from the landscape in St Mary’s County, such as historic homes, oystermen’s workboats, and century-old farms and tobacco barns making way for housing developments. Her final exhibit at North End Gallery before moving to Catonsville was titled “Vanishing Maryland”, which also marked the end of her landscape painting days and the departure of a respected and talented artist from the community.
Karen’s daughters joke that they all vied for the position of favorite child. Karen devoted many years to ensure her children and grandchildren would have childhoods enriched with the arts, museums, music, reading, and science, and she enthusiastically encouraged her grandchildren to pursue careers in the arts and created bespoke quilts for each one. Karen was an exceptionally kind and supportive mother, and she embraced her daughters’ friends as her own children, welcoming them into her home and creating a peaceful, warm environment filled with books, music, and home cooking. For many of her children's friends, Karen was their second mom.
In addition to her artistic pursuits, Karen was active in the Lexington Park United Methodist Church, Quilters by the Bay, the Red Hat Society, and the Friends of St Mary’s County Library. In Catonsville she was active in the Charlestown Retirement Community’s Fireside Artists club and the Little Theater Group. Karen enjoyed traveling with the love of her life DeWitt Charles, and together they toured Canada, England, Morocco, Greece and islands in the Agean Sea, Egypt, Italy, Austria, and Germany. They also went to nearly every state in the United States, visiting with family, sightseeing, and staying at elder hostels in many locales.
Karen held a Bachelor of Science in Business and a Master of Science in Education from Indiana University in Bloomington, where she was in the first pledge class of the Kappa Delta sorority at Indiana University, for which she proudly remained a lifelong member. Karen was also a graduate of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, where she was also a member of the National Thespian Society.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, December 3rd at 1:00 p.m. at the Fireside Gallery at Charlestown Square, Charlestown Retirement Community, 719 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228. Interment will be at the National Cemetery in Catonsville, Maryland.
In lieu of flowers or for those desiring memorial contributions, donations may be made to: