Karen E. Ramsey

Karen E. Ramsey

January 23, 1968 ‐ October 05, 2020
Karen E. Ramsey
Birthplace: Warren Ohio Resided In: Washington DC Service: October 24, 2020

Karen Ramsey, age 52, died on October 5, 2020 at her home in the Trinidad neighborhood of Washington DC. She was a community activist, photographer, cyclist, passionate environmentalist and devoted friend to many. 


Karen was born January 23, 1968 and grew up in various towns in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

She attended Indian Lake High School and went on to earn her bachelor's degree in Sociology from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1989 and her master’s degree in Environment and Resource Policy from The George Washington University in 1999. 


When Karen joined the Peace Corps in 1990, her first assignment took her to Cameroon where she worked in community development. Over two decades, she served four tours including Mali, Togo, and Kazakhstan.  


Karen showed up. In everything she did, Karen brought a spirit of love, compassion and service. Many considered her the unofficial “Mayor of DC” because she immersed herself in every aspect of her city and her beloved Trinidad neighborhood. Karen showed up for everything from Supreme Court cases to ANC meetings, from national marches on the Mall to evening porch sittings with neighbors. On any given day and in any weather, Karen could be seen biking around the city with her camera, capturing the many moments and souls of Washington in her award winning photography. Karen showed up for her friends in their times of need and in celebrating every milestone. Karen showed up for her neighbors to help fix a fence, photograph a newborn, or cat-sit. In her rare down time, Karen enjoyed reading and knitting, often making gifts for her friends and neighbors. 


Karen is survived by her mother, Ruth Ramsey, her sister, Donna Feorene and brother-in-law Brent, nieces and nephew Catherine, Brent and Camille, many aunts, uncles and cousins including a special relationship with Aunt Claudia Levy and numerous friends all over the world.


In light of COVID restrictions, a virtual/spiritual memorial to honor Karen’s life will be held on Saturday, October 24th at 2 PM EDT https://www.facebook.com/TrinidadNeighborhood  where friends can focus on happier times with Karen. The family will have a private ceremony at a later date. 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to make a tribute gift to Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) Checks may also be sent to the attention of the Humane Rescue Alliance Development Office at 71 Oglethrope Street NW Washington, DC 20011.

Guest Comments

Valerie Arent
Chicago, IL

I worked with Karen in Kazakhstan and I visited her in DC a few years ago. She was super cool and helped me through some trying times. She will be missed.

Will and Brandi Brown
Washington, DC

We just found out about Karen’s passing. Our family is so incredibly sorry. Karen was a rare, beautiful soul. She was so kind. Our hearts are broken for her family and community. Rest easy, Karen.

Monica Morin
Washington, DC

I knew Karen from around DC and bike twitter. Her posts and advocacy led me to join her on August 1st as a bike marshal for a protest in DC for Black Lives Matter. She helped make showing up accessible and easy for me, and we shut down the interstate and supported our neighbors together.

Missing her a lot this week.

Esther Ken Gwan
Burlington North Carolina

I was in Peace Corps at the end of Karen's tour and had the privilege to be her medical officer. It is sad to know she has transitioned this world at such a tender age, barely half a century young. My heartfelt sympathy to her family, close friends, and community.

Corry Westbrook
Washington DC

Karen was one of the first people I met when I moved to Washington DC. We met at GW and have been friends ever since. Her death is an enormous loss. She is missed by so many. Rest In Peace Karen.

Jeanne Palmer

While I knew Karen thru her sister (my long time friend & partner in crime) Donna, it was easy to like her. Besides her sister, we shared common interests..photography, knitting; both of which she was way more talented at than me. She had a way of making you feel included, never a 3rd wheel. Which is why I really enjoyed the times all three of us would hang together when she would come to town for a family visit. Will always be wanting more of those, as will so many others in her family and large circles of friends. I am so deeply sorry for this tragic loss. She will be forever missed.

Brad Hounkpati
Athens, GA

Hum, Karen!
So you will not call me, visit me or meet me and your family and friends anymore?
Quoting this African proverb: "Celui qui a planté un arbre avant de mourir n'a pas vécu inutilement", ...you have not lived in vain.
Rest In Power

Ellen Syversen
Eugene, Oregon

Karen was a close friend from college at Ohio Wesleyan University. Mature beyond her years, even in college, Karen was fun, introspective, globally focused, a seasoned activist, and a wonderful, compassionate person. There was no pretense with Karen, she "really got you" and accepted you 100%. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger when she was a volunteer in Cameroon. I visited her in her village, Akom II, which was a trip I will never forget. Although we had not spoken since 2013, outside of Facebook, I will always consider her one of my best friends. I only wish I had been able to say goodbye. I will miss you my beautiful friend, and please know you will never be forgotten.

Betty Haaland
Silver Spring, MD

Dear Karen,

It’s still a shock! I will always cherish my friendship with you!

May your gentle soul Rest In Paradise until we meet to part no more.

Bethesda, Md.

It can never be the same without Karen, adventurer and citizen of the world.

Diana Hernandez
Washington, D.C.

DC is going to feel so strange without you. I knew every time you posted a photo it was going to be about some awesome event in DC that was unknown to me or an important moment in history. Rest In Peace, Karen. You will definitely be missed.

Nina Naguyevskaya Beasley

Rest in Peace, Karen. never will forget a wonderful time together and your invaluable support and care. No words to describe the feelings about the loss...