Life Story / Obituary
Renee Shirley (Dahl) Karwowski, age 79, passed away at her home Sunday, November 19, 2023, following a courageous two-year battle with Ovarian Cancer. Renee, mother, grandmother, sister, dear friend, and caretaker of many, was lovingly cared for by her three daughters, “the 3 A’s”, and her “sister bella” Sherry along with support from their families. A gentle soul with a gentle smile; our world will never be the same without her.
Renee was born July 13, 1944, daughter and first child of the late Dale and Bettye (Powell) Dahl, in Bremerton, WA, where the two began their family with Dale working in the naval shipyard. Soon they joined family members in Racine, WI, where Renee and her siblings grew up on East Street and made many lifetime friends. Renee attended St. Joseph’s grade school and graduated from St. Catherine’s High School in 1962. With a love for nostalgia and her 1950s youth, Renee helped organize reunions and monthly gatherings to stay in touch with longtime classmates and friends.
Nothing meant more to Renee than the strength of family. She maintained a tight bond with her siblings Al, Sherry and Darry and instilled that in her daughters and grandchildren. Her commitment to her own family started when she first met a neighborhood boy, Kenny, on July 19, 1959, when she was just 14 and he 13. Four years later on August 17, 1963, Renee was united in marriage to Kenneth R. Karwowski at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. The three years that followed brought daughters, Annette, Amy, and Andrea. Throughout their 57-year marriage, Renee and Ken often moved for Ken’s schooling and work, with Renee providing steadfast love and support at home for the girls, and as they grew, she also worked for many years in the dental field.
Renee and Ken traveled across the country on their BMW motorcycle, by RV and by car. They enjoyed many places, but nothing brought them more joy than their love for Hawaii. A lifelong dream, the two moved their family to the islands in 1979, where they lived for a year in paradise learning about new cultures and taking weekly trips to the beach. They returned to Hawaii several times and brought each of their daughters and their families along for vacations.
Anyone who knew Renee would tell you that she was a uniquely caring and empathetic person, who emanated a positive spirit and shared her energy with those she cared about. She was a great listener, confidant, and gentle advisor, often over a good cup of tea. Renee was a fierce protector of children, having cared for her own and many others throughout her years. Her five grandchildren filled her heart with love, each uniquely special to her. Thankfully, all of them were able to visit with her in the days before her departure.
In March of 2021, Renee lost the love of her life, Ken, when he died unexpectedly at home. The 3 A’s and their families enveloped her in their love and support. But nothing would devastate them all more than the news in November of that year that their mother and grandmother, Renee had later stage Ovarian Cancer. The past two years she fought bravely through major surgery and various rounds of chemotherapy. Each step of the way, Renee stayed positive and vowed to “keep moving forward” as Ken would always say. The family would like to thank the staff and caregivers of the Aurora Cancer Center of Kenosha and Aurora at Home Hospice for their care and help over the past two years.
Surviving are her daughters, Annette (Daniel) Crifase of Silver Lake, Amy (Robert “Buz”) Bradley of Hubertus, Andrea (Eric) Novotny of Stoughton; grandchildren, Nicholas and Taylor Crifase, Tristan Bradley, Tanner and Kayley Novotny; sister Sherry (Wayne) Pope; brothers, Al Dahl, Darry Dahl; aunt Marcella (Carlo) Ricciardi and all the Ricciardi cousins; in-laws, Hank (Kari) Karwowski, Tony (Cindy) Karwowski, Kathy (Terry) Koch; close cousins, Bob “Ski” & Sharon (her “Bestest Bestie”) Karwowski; her dear nieces and nephews. Special friends, Rosalie Rausch and Marge Mercer and her wonderful neighbors Dave and Renda Schulz; other dear relatives and friends. In addition to Ken and her parents, she was preceded in death by an infant sister, Mary; her aunt Vera Hauck; nephew “Little Darry” Pope, sister-in-law Joyce Dahl, brother-in-law, Frank Karwowski; father-in-law Henry Karwowski; mother-in-law Eva (Langdon-Karwowski) Holtz; and stepfather-in-law Al Holtz.
Visitation with the family will be held Friday, November 24, 2023, from 1:00–3:00 p.m. at the funeral home. A memorial service will begin at 3 p.m. and will be live streamed from the funeral home website. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to any organization that helps children; it’s how Renee would have wanted it.
"May today find you in good health, high spirits and with peace of mind.”
The service will be live streamed and may be found at https://www.facebook.com/meredithfuneralhome/