April 6, 1954 – June 24, 2109
RIDGELAND— A private celebration of life will be held for Karen Selestak, 65, of Florence, who died Monday, June 24, 2019, at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson.
Arrangements are under the direction of Sebrell Funeral Home in Ridgeland.
A proud Aries, Karen was born April 6, 1954, in Okolona, the daughter of Stephen “Smokey” Selestak and Mary Katherine “Kassie” Reid Selestak.
She attended Okolona High School. While “Krun” lived life to the fullest, her true passion was her social work. She received a bachelor of science degree from Mississippi State University and a master of science degree in social work from University of Southern Mississippi where she began her career with the Department of Human Services. She was employed by the Mississippi State Hospital from 1980 to 1998 in the roles of continued treatment social worker, clinical program director and director of Jacquith Nursing Home. Karen was a licensed certified social worker.
On Santa Rosa Beach in Florida, Nov. 22, 2000, Karen married the greatest love of her life, Glen Russell Thomas. For the next 19 years, they traveled and explored some of the most beautiful place in the world, including a recent trip to Aruba, where she was perfectly at home with the flamingo habitat. Glen and Karen were able to turn a simple house on a little lake in Cleary, into a true paradise that welcomed family and friends in a way that will never be forgotten. Karen was an avid gardener and loved tending to her army of gnomes. Karen’s flamingo collection is one for the ages. She even had an “attack flamingo” guarding the yard at all times.
She was active in National Association of Social Work – MS Chapter – from 1992 to 2019, serving in a number of capacities including president. From 2006 to 2019, she served in the roles of continuing education coordinator and annual conference coordinator. She received the 1998 Social Worker of the Year and was honored with the 1stAnnual Karen Selestak Excellence in Chapter Service award in 2019.
She served as certified public manager for the Mississippi State Personnel Board. She was a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers, National Association of Social Workers, Mississippi Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Council, Rankin County Chamber of Commerce Elder Services and Women in Network. She participated in the Rankin Leadership Program and was a graduate of the State Executive Development Institute, John C. Stennis Institute of Government at MSU. Karen continually advocated for social work licensing, mental health and geriatric services at the Mississippi Legislature. She will be appreciated as a dedicated mentor and influential leader in her field.
She loved to dance, laugh and encourage those close to her. Karen didn’t just have a great personality. Karen wasa great personality. She will be remembered fondly as being unique, caring, loving her dogs, flamingos and all things the color purple.
She was preceded in death by her parents and brother-in-law, Kenny Thomas.
She was also preceded in death by her beloved German Shepherd, Buddy Bear.
Survivors include her husband, Glen R. Thomas; stepson, Alton R. Thomas; stepdaughter, Catherine Thomas; grandson, Santiago Thomas and Santiago’s mother, Cristal, all of Dallas; sister-in-law, Linda Fielder and husband, Harvey, of Clinton; nieces and nephews; soul sisters, Janice Cain, Dena Doss, Frances Borromeo, Jane Allen Thompson and Mary Jane Barnett; and special children, Beth McArthur and husband, Johnathan, and Clay Cain and wife, Jennifer, Madelyn and Cain McArthur.
Memorials to the Mississippi Chapter of the Alzheimers Association, 207 W. Jackson St., No. 1, Ridgeland, MS 39157, (769) 230-0611, would be appreciated.