‘She was something special:’ Eastern honors life of former TRiO support specialist

Corryn Brock, Editor-in-Chief

A memorial service and balloon release were held Saturday to honor the life of Karen Easton, TRiO Office Support Specialist who died on Dec. 10, 2021.

Eastern students and employees spoke of their memories with Easton, remembering her as a woman who was always willing to help others and who never met a stranger.

One student remarked that he wondered if she ever had a bad day, saying he never saw her without a smile on her face. He added if it was not for Easton, he would not have found the services he needed for classes.

“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have found the help services that I need to get help on my homework, she was a huge, huge help,” the student said. “I owe her the biggest thank you… I know it’s sad she’s gone but I think the most important thing is to be happy for all the time we got to spend with her.”

Students take turns speaking about their experiences with Karen Easton, who was an employee at TRIO Student Support Services, and how she supported and helped them during a memorial service held Saturday. (ASHANTI THOMAS | THE DAILY EASTERN NEWS)

Another student remembered her as “one of the most compassionate and empathetic people” he has met.

“I was blessed to know her for the short time I did … I will miss her forever but I will always hold her in my heart,” the student said.

A recent Eastern graduate who was involved with TRiO shared a story about her experiences with Easton and how helpful she was, saying Easton would bring her granola bars when she was working to make sure she was eating.

“Now I keep granola bars on my desk so I can be like, ‘hey, you need a granola bar? I’ve got you.”

Rick Easton, the survived husband of Karen Easton, TRiO Student Support Services employee, chats with Pastor Ly’Jerrick Ward in the Library Quad following a balloon release in his wife’s honor Saturday. (ASHANTI THOMAS | THE DAILY EASTERN NEWS)

Freshman undecided major Terrel Steele said she was eager to help him when he arrived at Eastern.

“I was new on campus, I had no idea what I was going to do, and, her, with that beautiful smile on her face, she was so eager just to help me out. I’m forever grateful for all her hard work every day,” Steele said.

Maggie Burkhead, Director of TRiO, said she was happy with how the service and balloon release went.

“Karen will truly be missed, forever in our hearts, but we’re glad she’s no longer suffering or in any pain,” Burkhead said.

Burkhead said she is currently collecting money to go towards purchasing a brick in the Commemorative Courtyard near the Library Quad.


Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].