Karen Fawcett, one of the founders of the Friends of Will and passionate GRSF supporter died unexpectedly January 7. The following text is from a tribute to Karen in the Winona Daily News, January 29, 2017.
When the Great River Shakespeare Festival opened in 2004, Karen was instrumental in turning the passive experience of watching a play into community activity for a growing group of dedicated volunteers. She and Kathleen Peterson started with a group of 15 volunteers, called themselves Friends of Will, and offered their services to the fledgling theater company to do whatever might need to be done. Within a year, their ranks grew to more than 300 volunteers, and the Friends of Will have been an integral part of the festival ever since.
In a letter to the editor published in 2004, Karen spoke how welcoming visitors to our community enriches all our lives: “Even though we are the local hosts, we are more so the guests of these visitors to Winona,” she said. “As guests, we are welcomed into their lives and perspectives, given expanded understandings of our humanity and graciously invited to see the world with new eyes.” “We who are leaders won’t have to worry that we’ll have to be around forever,” Karen said of the Friends. “This is not a project that will be owned by a few.” The complete article covers Karen’s many other contributions to Winona, Influence in many lives.
Thank you, Karen, for leading the way.