I remember the day Karen Brust brought her “Healing in Bloom” white lily to Hyde House. She was jubilant to be delivering a new work from her easel.
Her artist statement sounds like a resurrection declaration. “Recovering from surgery, I looked forward to sitting at my easel to paint and find solace from my struggles. I expected to pick up where I left off with my brushes and pigments, filling one canvas and another, creating masterpieces I’d been envisioning. My upper and lower body, as well as my limited stamina, presented different agendas. This painting is the result of many short painting sessions needed to regain control of my brushes combined with my desire to win the battle. Painting this Lily was good for the heart and confidence of this artist.”
The morning of Karen’s “Healing in Bloom” delivery, as we’d so often done before, we paused in our fast forward day and took time to enjoy one of our artist-to-artist chats. Karen wanted to tell me about her “next-up” painting waiting to be started.
Artists, like Karen, make excellent friends! We are kindred-spirits. Our conversations flow easily. We can talk about our art-driven passions anytime and anywhere, every chance we get. I knew for sure Karen was this kind of artist friend for me the first time we stood dripping wet in the Y locker room after our swims—talking about art and art and more art and then on to families and grandchildren and how we’re doing our best to take care of our bodies.
My artist friend, Karen Sue Brust (Collins), 68, of Carthage, Missouri, passed away on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Her family and friends surrounded and comforted her during her brief hospital stay. As throughout their marriage, her husband of twenty years, Terry Brust, stood by her and supported her with great love and commitment.
The surprise and shock of losing Karen so unexpectedly, has left many of us disbelieving that we won’t see her pretty face again where we saw her last. When I go to the pool today, I’ll instinctively look for Karen and our next talk. I’ll find her place empty. Only time can soften the ache of her absence. She leaves a space no one else can fill. Her family’s beautiful tribute says this all so well:
Karen was a highly talented, creative and beautiful artist in every sense of the word and in all aspects of her life—wife, mother, grandmother, friend, daughter, aunt, sister, businesswoman, seamstress, financial planner and painter. She brought an indescribable kindness and magic to everything she touched and created. This is especially true for the joy, fun and creativity she brought into the lives of her seven grandchildren whom she loved with all of her being.
Karen was born on August 14, 1949, in Joplin, Missouri. She graduated from Carthage High School in 1967. Her daughter, Kelly Hunter, was born in 1968. Karen married Terry Brust on November 28, 1997. They were blessed with a large and loving blended family.
Karen believed that with dedication, sacrifice and hard work we can all achieve our dreams, even when they seem impossibly out of reach. She had a diverse and successful business and philanthropic career. Her businesswoman/artist friend, Linda Teeter, remembers, “I knew Karen when we were two women out to break the glass ceiling in two-piece business suits and clicking high heels. Karen always acted like a lady. But don't think she couldn't hold her own. Karen was a New York Life agent. We were among the first women with agencies.”
Karen was a member of the National Association of Female Executives; the National Association of Life Underwriters; and the Million Dollar Roundtable. She was longtime member of Soroptimist International and a supporter of Camp Soroptimist.
After years of service to others, Karen achieved her ultimate dream of being a painter—creating and sharing her vision and working with other artists at the Koka Gallery, artCentral Carthage, Spiva Center for the Arts, the Carthage Art Walk and other artistic venues. In 2015, Karen received the McCune-Brooks Healthcare Foundation Underwriter Award at the artCentral Annual Membership Exhibition.
Like her ethereal white lily, Karen’s beautiful spirit lives on at artCentral and in her art and the hearts of so, so many. I am thankful for the enlightened joys she gave to my life. My pretty, talented artist friend, Karen, is remembered with great love and admiration.