Community Gardens In Garden Park

Maria and volunteers from the neighborhood installed and planted community gardens in Garden Park on Bremen and Locust Streets in the spring of 2007. Maria loved working with plants, and was especially drawn to work with the children in our neighborhood, helping to give them insight into their experiences and interactions with the natural world.

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Jan Christensen Invocation at Riverwest Neighborhood Association Meeting, 11/11/08

RNA Meeting
November 11, 2008

We need to take a moment this evening to mark the passing of our friend and strong community co-worker, Maria Karpfinger.

Maria passed away last Tuesday, November 4. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends.

Maria came back to Milwaukee from New York City several years ago to be with her family during the time of her parents’ final illnesses. Her parents both passed away in 2006, her father in March, and her mother in June.

Since that time she has been very involved with our neighborhood. She has been involved with greenspace issues, urban gardening, ecological education, the RNA and the Riverwest Co-op. Her enjoyment of sharing knowledge about the natural world was apparent to anyone who worked with her.

Maria’s friends have noticed that she has become sad and distant in the last months, and many of us have been concerned about her. Many of us feel shamed and guilty that we somehow did not do enough to ease Maria’s pain.

We are, each of us, private persons, and have boundaries beyond which others do not come. It’s difficult for us to push or pry our way into the private lives of those around us. We are sensitive to their boundaries, often hesitating to ask questions that are, we believe, none of our business.

Likewise, many of us have wandered, ourselves, in that country where Maria eventually lost her life. The fact that we are all sitting here together this evening shows that somehow we found some signpost that directed us out again. That signpost might have been love, or anger, or responsibility, or a calling, or even inaction or weakness or cowardice. It was probably different for each of us. But many of us have known that country. And many of us will wander in it again.

There might not be much that we, as individuals, can do to ease the pain or call back a spirit who is in that land. However, we can, as a community, make a pledge to each other.

We can pledge to be courageously nosy. We can pledge to make time for each other. We can pledge to ask the uncomfortable questions that show that we care for each other.

We can also pledge, as the strong and fragile and foolish people that we are, that we will look for the signposts when we are lost and wandering. We can pledge to remember the pain and guilt and shame we feel about Maria’s death, and promise to ask for help when we need it.

Because we need US. We need all of us. We need our weaknesses and our strengths. We need our brilliance and our shortcomings. We need our tolerance and our bullheadedness.

We can pledge to do all we can to not deprive each other of the individuals we are.
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Debbie Metke’s Maria Story

I met Maria about a year ago when she came to our Milwaukee
Impeachment Committee meetings. She excitedly took me aside after
her first meeting, wanting to immediately go out for coffee and
discuss strategy. Her excitement and organizational ideas were
fantastic, and when she joined 5 others on our steering committee,
she spent many hours writing literature to educate others on how we
could hold wayward government officials accountable.

The last time I saw Maria was July lst, when she quickly took hold of
a strategic opportunity spontaneously organizing a meeting with
Congressman John Conyers when he came out to meet with our
Impeachment protesters, an event that made some national news
circles, as well as a writeup in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel. She
lined up our order of participants and then helped confront Conyers
with questions the next morning at the Pfister Hotel. She truly
cared about our nation’s political health, which meant adhering to
its Constitution.

Maria was a bright, serious, gal who laughed and smiled easily and
was warm and caring enough to me to call and offer comfort when
organizational matters were difficult.

She invited me to a restaurant with her family and friends, and the
love, fun and admiration of all was delightful. I envied the
closeness, and it was evident that Maria’s opinions were much
respected and enjoyed by her siblings and their spouses.

I didn’t realize Maria had emotional difficulties. So many do, and
my family lost a family member in the same way, this same month 5
years ago - another very intelligent, attractive, and politically
engaged soul. It is a terrible shock to those left behind, but time
can heal much, as it has with us. Maria is now at peace, having left
her tireless contribution for a better world and leaving her
inspiration to guide so many of us who have worked in the fields she
was interested in. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire
Karpfinger family and I am there for any who may need me in any way
in the adjusting time ahead.

Debbie Metke
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Maria Theresa Karpfinger

Karpfinger, Maria Theresa Passed away November 4, 2008. Deeply loved and missed by her family. Survived by brothers Barney (Eric Marcus),Chuck (Deb), Joe (Craig Thelen), sisters Sue (Grant Gehweiler), Peggy (Pat Moore), Beth, Monica (Steve Helton). Preceded in death by parents, Beverly and Barney Karpfinger. Maria was amazed by the natural world and thrived on sharing her extensive knowledge. She was a community activist who was involved in various organizations dedicated to environmental education and urban agriculture. A memorial gathering will be held at the Anita Koenen Land Preserve/Quaker Meeting House, 3224 North Gordon Pl., Milwaukee, 53212 on Monday, November 10, 2008, from 4 PM until time of the service at 6 PM. Parking is limited, overflow parking available at Gaenslen Elementary School just south of the preserve. Memorials to Milwaukee Urban Gardens, 1845 North Farwell Avenue, Suite 100, Milwaukee, WI 53202; Growing Power, Inc., 5500 West Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53218; or NAMI Wisconsin, 4233 West Beltline Hwy., Madison, WI 53711. Suminski Family Funeral Homes Suminski / Weiss (414) 276–5122

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Memorial Prayer Card

“The wine of this fleeting world
Caused your head to ache.
Finally you joined the tavern of Eternity.
Like an arrow, you sped from the bow
And went straight for the bull’s eye
Of bliss

This phantom world gave you false signs
But you turned from the illusion
And journeyed to the land of truth.

You are now the Sun -
What need have you for a crown?
What need have you to tie your robe?

I’ve heard that you can barely see
Your soul.
But why look at all? -
Yours is now the Soul of Souls!

Oh heart, what a wonderful bird you are.
Seeking divine heights,
Flapping your wings,
You smashed the pointed spears of
Your enemy.

The flowers flee from Autumn, but not you -
You are the fearless rose
That grooms amidst the freezing wind.

Pouring down like the rain of heaven
You fell upon the rooftop of this world.
Then you ran in every direction
And escaped through the drain spout…

Now the words are over
And the pain they bring is gone.
Now you have gone to rest
In the arms of the Beloved”

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Reflections and Memories of Maria
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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on November 19, 2008

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