Cover photo for Karel Lea Yanicks's Obituary
1950 Karel 2022

Karel Lea Yanicks

November 11, 1950 — March 19, 2022

Karel L. Yanicks

November 11, 1950-March 19, 2022

Karel L. Yanicks was born November 1950 and was a spitfire right out of the gate. One of her first memories was of her parents “Kitty” Lois Luce and “Coach” Plato Yanicks looking for rocks on a hillside on a sweltering day on the way to Yosemite (a pastime they enjoyed that Karel would someday also take part in). Even as a small child, Karel had recalled sweating in the backseat of the car, thinking, “What in the world are these people doing? Don’t they care about me AT ALL? THESE are my parents?”

In addition to her biting wit and inimitable humor, Karel was a jetsetter and avid traveler. Tent camping, luxury hotel stays, and anything in between. This was a love that started early on. When her father was assigned overseas through the military, Karel snuck one lone little stuffed animal cat under her jacket despite being told not to bring any toys or stuffed animals. This established her as rebellious and suspicious of authority early on; traits that would stand the test of time. The family lived in Europe briefly, and then relocated back to the Bay Area in California.

Upon moving into their new home, she went to inspect every room. Karel returned to her parents and complained that the house was defective: she couldn’t find her dog which she was certain would be coming with the house. Even after getting her first dog, Karel would continue to bring home strays and become a lifelong ally of animals, particularly large dogs.

She had a passion for ballet and softball. She would join Plato’s track team and outrun some of the stars. Since Plato also taught wrestling and basketball, Karel was tasked with shooting ten baskets in a row before coming in for dinner. When she missed one, she had to start over.

Their house was a popular hangout. Karel’s mom, Kitty, who had always wanted lots of kids, welcomed all her daughter’s friends and any runaway neighbor kids who needed a meal, someone to listen to their problems, and a big hug. One day, Karel asked, “What if *I* wanted to run away?” to which Kitty responded, “Where would you go? And why would you want to run away when all your friends are here?” Kitty was always funny and persuasive so Karel did NOT end up leaving.

A few years after graduating from Carlmont High School in 1968, Karel married her high school sweetheart, Michael Gotelli, but despite their deep love and long history, the marriage dissolved. Once family was always family, so Karel and Mike remained close.

After the divorce, Karel worked at a popular nightclub in the Bay Area before settling into the dental industry. A true music aficionado, Karel appreciated all kinds of music and got to see upcoming talent before they were famous – both comedians and musical acts.

In the early 80s, Karel relocated to Portland. Initially, Karel thought that this move was temporary. Before she knew it, she bought her first house and was having a baby. Kitty was so thrilled to be a grandmother that she immediately packed up her life and moved to be closer to her daughter and granddaughter, Ashley.

Karel loved being a mom. She got to work part-time and spend the rest of the time with Ashley. They went camping, took annual trips to California to visit family and friends, and had lots of heart-to-hearts.

She had an incredible eye for decor and art and the will and dedication to make projects happen. Like Kitty, Karel was always welcoming Ashley’s friends. She volunteered for school Halloween nights, field trips, raffle parties, school movie nights, and whatever else was needed.

Karel worked for Mellum Family Dentistry for a quarter of a century and befriended her boss, coworkers, and patients with whom she worked. Karel’s waiting room had toys and games and coloring books for kids. It had prizes and a Hall of Fame wall for kids without cavities. She picked up and dropped off elderly patients who could no longer drive. When one of her dear friends was in hospice, she went to read her some poetry and tell her her horoscope for the day.

Somehow in her busy schedule, Karel found time to return to school and become a Master Gardener through an OSU program. She spent many happy hours in her garden which was a flourishing jungle and could have been featured in Sunset Magazine. She was an environmentalist and human rights activist.

To sum her up is futile, because she was so many spectacular things at once. She lived a full, beautiful life of travel, love, adventure, kindness, and humor.

Karel took a one-way ticket to a very exclusive vacation/resort with her angels and ancestors on March 19th 2022. She’d had an open invitation for a while, but –in typical Karel fashion– had not disclosed much information about this to friends and family. Over the course of a couple of days, she emotionally packed her bags and accepted the heavenly request after a very challenging year and permission from her daughter to rest.

Karel is reunited with and welcomed by her mother Lois “Kitty” Luce, her uncle Milton Yanicks, her in-laws Phyllis and Howard Gotelli, Rosemary & Don Daniels, and probably a few other people that Ashley failed to mention. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law Ashley (Cole) & Patrick Carpenter, her father and step-mother Plato & Marilyn Yanicks, her ex-husband Jim, and her aunt Storm Yanicks. She is missed by countless friends and family.

Thank you for all you’ve done for us and all you’ve taught us, Karel. You made us smile in our hearts, and we love you forever without end.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to Family Dogs New Life Shelter, The Oregon Humane Society, Leach Botanical Gardens, The Oregon Food Bank, Audubon Society, The Sierra Club, Dress for Success, or another non-profit focused on the environment, animal welfare, or women empowerment.

Memorial service to be announced at a later date.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Karel Lea Yanicks, please visit our flower store.


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