Karen Lynne Chandler, 68, was a woman of many talents – a great organizer, gifted calligrapher and artist, among other skills.
Ms. Chandler died June 29, according to her daughter, Rai Chandler Bolden.
Scores of Facebook tributes and expressions of sympathy filled Chandler’s account.
“Karen Lynne Chandler quietly and unassumingly closed her eyes for the last time after a champion-worthy battle,” posted Bolden. “…While we are all so very heartbroken and we will miss her…We will speak her name, tell funny stories, marvel at the lives she touched, and keep her memory alive…”
Ms. Chandler was born in Memphis on Dec. 28, 1951, the second of seven children born to Howard Bonner and Louise Bernard Chandler.
She was a 1969 graduate Hamilton High School, where she was a majorette with the marching band and was voted “Miss Celebrity” by her senior class.
After high school, Ms. Chandler attended the University of Albuquerque in New Mexico, where she majored in sociology.
Extensive travels took her all over the West Coast. Lifelong friendships were made throughout the region.
When she returned home, Ms. Chandler worked at Memphis Housing Authority, helping to secure housing for displaced families.
She was instrumental in the opening of the Firehouse Community Arts Center, working tirelessly alongside Executive Director Bennie West. Chandler was the nonprofit’s first full-time employee, leading the charge to renovate and transform the neglected 1910 City of Memphis fire station.
She later worked at Universal Life Insurance Company, working with her father, an executive who was related to co-founder Mark Bonner.
Chandler eventually came to work for the City of Memphis under the administration of former mayor Dr. Willie W. Herenton. She coordinated logistical needs for many divisions of city government.
She often was the first face visitors saw when entering City Hall. Ms. Chandler had recently retired after working under three city administrations.
A gifted calligrapher and artist, she often designed creations for friends and colleagues for special events. She was an avid reader and an excellent cook.
“Mother was cremated, but she didn’t want a funeral service,” Bolden said. “She requested that we have a party, and we’re going to do that in December on her birthday.”
Chandler maintained friendships from childhood and high school until her death, Bolden said. This online message is from one of those friends, Matoiri Spencer:
“This is a tough one…K touched my life in so many ways…I will truly miss her…life lessons and unsolicited advice. That was my girl! We were Hamilton High School majorettes during our time…My sincere condolences…”