By Gary Mitchell
Karen Shayotovich left a lasting impression on everyone she met, according to family and friends.
Karen Sue Shayotovich, 59, died June 21 at her home in Clovis after a valiant struggle against cancer. A two-time cancer survivor, the last battle took its toll.
“She had a long, hard fight, but none of those battles slowed her down,” said her husband, Dan Shayotovich. “The doctors called her ‘the Amazing Woman.’ Before her surgery, she drove our race car (at Ned Houk Motorsports Complex). She had so much fun. She was something. I will miss her so much. The world just looks different to me now. We had seven wonderful years together. I’m a better man because of Karen Sue.”
One of the characteristics Shayotovich continually displayed was her willingness to help, said her sister, Eloise Edwards, Zia Chapter manager of the American Red Cross.
“She was always helping people,” Edwards said. “During our Quality of Life program in which we were gathering up stuff to send to the troops overseas, she was over there with her oxygen tank collecting and organizing everything into boxes. She had everything so organized that the Armed Forces Emergency Services sent her a certificate of appreciation for her work. She received that certificate three days before she passed away.”
“If you needed something, you could always count on her,” Edwards said.
Dan Shayotovich agreed. “When I first met her, she just amazed me. She was always willing to help anyone. She just liked to do things for people.”
A purchasing supervisor of supplies for Bank of America-US Operations, Karen Shayotovich was born on May 21, 1944, in Tucumcari to Ola and Paul Yates.
She was an avid participant at the motorsports complex, building cars with her husband and she racing them.
In a letter written to his mother and read at her funeral service, Marty Green posed several rhetorical questions:
“How do you find the words to describe a woman in which there are no words to describe? How do you find the words to describe a woman who was selfless to the end? Who, while not thinking of herself, always thought of others first.
“How do you find the words to describe a woman who could see the good in everyone no matter what they’ve done? Who never gave up on anyone or anything? I know because she never gave up on me for 40 years, and I’m a better man for it. She has touched the lives of everyone she has ever met.”
Shayotovich also had a soft spot for animals, her husband recalled.
“She went through the neighborhood, and she had written down all the animals in the block,” he said. “She kept a watchful eye for the animals, and if any of them got out, she would make sure they all got back home safely.”
One animal incident in particular typified her nature, Dan Shayotovich said.
“A baby bird fell out of its nest at the Red Cross office, and she brought it home with her,” he said. “She bought a cage, packages of wild bird seed, an eyedropper and baby formula. She fed that bird by mouth. I named it ‘Capistrano,’ but she shortened it to ‘Cappy.’ She fed that bird for two months. The bird would jump on her finger, and she would put it on a tree branch outside in the backyard. Then she would call the bird, and the bird would hop on her finger, and she would put the bird in the cage. She taught it to fly, and one day, it flew away. She cried like a baby.
“That was just a sample of how she was. She was a very loving, warm, kind person.”