Karen Raye Kester

May 12, 1975November 21, 2021
Obituary of Karen Raye Kester
Dr. Karen Raye Kester died peacefully in her cozy bed at home on November 21, 2021 at the age of 46 years. With her usual tenacity, Karen waged a brave battle with a societal nemesis called cancer. She is survived by her husband, Rob Ishii; parents, Ray and Barb; older siblings, Scott, Mark (Pam), and Rhonda (David); niece, Courtney; nephew, Nicholas, and a very large and closely-knit group of friends. Karen was born in Kincardine, Ontario. As the youngest sibling, she quickly learned how to hold her own and exerted her independence at a young age. Her first trip abroad was a high school student exchange in France. In university, she studied for one semester in Australia, after which, she continued to backpack around the entire continent on her own. Her zest for travel and adventure prompted her to explore many parts of the world with her friends including South Africa, Central America, Europe, Cuba, Turkey, Iceland, Norway, Scotland, St. Martin, and several Hawaiian Islands. With a curious mind and a slight scholastic addiction issue, Karen frequented higher institutions of learning on both sides of the country. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in Sociology from the University of Guelph in 1998. After graduation, she drove out to BC and attended the University of British Columbia where she obtained her Master’s degree in Family Studies in 2001. In her ensuing work, Karen developed a passion for working with children with Autism. She became a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst in 2007 and started her own company. Karen took great pride in and devoted much energy to improving the lives of the children and families she worked with. In 2019, Karen fulfilled a life-long dream by completing her PhD in Special Education. She continued working with her clients as well as teaching courses at both UBC and Capilano University. Though her time on this earth was far too short, Karen never wasted one moment of it and always sought out opportunities to try something new. She met many members of her “West Coast Family” through learning to play ice hockey. The blue line of the Femmes Fatales hockey team was securely defended by #24 for several years. With her natural leadership abilities, Karen went on to manage the Know Your Limit co-ed hockey team. Many happy Friday nights were spent over post-game nachos and beer. Not a fan of the television, Karen preferred to do anything but. She loved hiking, snowboarding, curling, wakeboarding, softball, biking, and swimming. She also inherited the family crafting gene and many of her friends and family have Creations by Karen to remember her by. Karen’s happy place was surfing the waves on the beaches of Tofino. Fittingly, she married the love of her life, Rob on MacKenzie beach on a beautiful summer day in 2015. This meant that Karen never ever had to make dinner again. However, she needed to learn extreme patience in convincing Rob there is more than one way to do things. Despite their differences, Rob and Karen complemented each other with their shared values, mutual respect and absurd senses of humour. Karen would likely tell those she loved not to cry because she is gone (well, maybe a little), but celebrate that she was here. And so we will. Wear lots of orange, go for a walk in the rain, watch a gorgeous sunset, sip a Granville Island Winter Ale, and dance like Elaine at your next party! In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the BC Cancer Agency ( or the Autism Community Training - BC Community Resources Fund ( An online guestbook is available at

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