Karen Leslee Opheim Dutton

November 30, 2020
Karen Leslee Opheim Dutton

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Karen Leslee Opheim Dutton passed unexpectedly on November 30, 2020 after complications from surgery in Williamsburg, VA.  She was a lifelong member of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church and resident of Norge, VA.

Karen was born on January 19, 1945 in Williamsburg, VA and lived all her life in the Norge area.  She graduated from James Blair High School in 1963 where she was a member of the marching band and all-district and all-state chorus.  Karen married Walter B. Dutton on October 15, 1966 and they spent over 40 happy years together raising a family.

Karen was employed by Hill Pleasant Farm in Norge for many years where she enjoyed connecting with people across the community.  She later took a position with the James City County Farmers market, retiring in the mid-90’s.

Karen’s sewing room was her happy place.  Over the years she sewed many outfits, quilts, pillows, and blankets for family and friends, while continuing her mother’s business making sun bonnets and mobcaps for the Toy Maker of Williamsburg until 2014.  She continued with her sewing making craft items for local fairs and people in the community.

Her passion for sewing did not pause with the pandemic, she made over 700 masks for family and friends around the globe and anyone in the community that needed one.  She was adamant not to charge for masks and considered it her way of helping others.

She had a heart for service. A dedicated member of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church where over the years she was active in many committees as well as the junior & adult choirs, Sunday school teacher, Bible school teacher, usher, member of WELCA, faithful attender of Playin’ for Fun, Youth Group leader – led and organized youth retreats, organized the sewing room, and made prayer shawls and lap blankets for the community and Lutheran World Relief.   Karen also organized the food donations for a local food pantry, FISH, Inc. in Williamsburg.

An active member of the Norseman Federation, Karen was very proud of her Norwegian heritage.  Her favorite phrase was Uff-Da!  She was also an active member of the Red Hat Society, enjoying many social events with friends.

She was the master and commander of organizing family events and ensured her older siblings made it to appointments and social functions.  During the pandemic she often drove her sisters around the community to get everyone out of the house for a bit.  Karen also loved playing cards with her grandchildren and was a fierce euchre player winning many rounds with family & friends over the years.  An avid gardener and lover of music, especially meeting friends to see it played live.

Karen was preceded in death by her husband, Walter B. Dutton and parents, Lester & Ella Opheim of Norge.  She is survived by her three daughters: Kristen Turnage, husband Louis Turnage, Jr. of Newport News; Gina Venable, husband Michael Venable of Williamsburg; and Jennifer Henderson, husband Bo Henderson of Montgomery, AL; three grandchildren, Lindsay Venable, Ashley Venable and Carson Turnage.  Her siblings: Janice Leonard of Williamsburg, William Opheim of Lakeville, MA, Thelma Lee of Williamsburg, Beverly & Glenn Tetterton of Wilmington, NC, and sister in-law Bernice Dutton of Norge; as well as many nieces & nephews, great nieces & nephews, and close cousins.

The family is planning a private service and burial at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Norge and plan to host a celebration of life once it is safe to gather and sing all of her favorite hymns.  The family request that in lieu of flowers, please donate to either of the following in Karen’s name to: Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church at 7479 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, Virginia 23188 or FISH, Inc. at 312 Waller Mill Road #800, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185 https://williamsburgfish.weebly.com/. Bucktrout Funeral Home is assisting the family.


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  • December 06, 2020
    Paula B Sweeley says:
    Karen and I were childhood friends in Norge VA. We attended the same elementary and high schools, belonged to Our Saviors Church and youth group and knew each other well as a part of the close-knit Norge community. I moved to New England after college and have been here ever since but remember Karen and the whole Opheim family as kind and community conscious people who were always there for those in need. Sincere condolences to all of Karen's loved ones. Sad as it is that she has passed on, it is good to read of her happy and full life and the many gifts she bestowed on the world. Rest in peace Karen. Your life is an inspiration to us all.

  • December 07, 2020
    Janie Whittaker Shamrock says:
    Karen and I had a long and wonderful friendship that lasted 65 years. My prayers and love are with her wonderful family.She is now one of God's special angels and we will all be together again when God calls us home.I love and miss you Karen.

  • December 08, 2020
    Sharon Schwartzlow says:
    I always looked for Karen at the Chambrel craft fair. I have many towel, detergent aprons, and other items that she made. She always greeted me with a smile and caring conversation. She was a joyful person and a blessing to know.