Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Grace White: A Standup Who Stood Up!


I've written a lot of things, but this is my first obit. I am proud and flattered to write this about a great person, comedienne and my favorite surfer hippie chick in the world.
Karen Grace White (1950-2009)

Karen Grace White, age 59, of Colfax, California, passed away on December 3, 2009. She died from complications from a two-year bout with lung cancer. She was born on February 11, 1950 in National City, California. One of two children, she was raised in the San Diego area.
Karen Grace White was preceded in death by her father Robert Lee White and her brother Paul White. She is survived by her mother, Velma Kathleen Swafford, age 80, her daughter, Alisa Kathleen Cook-Shaffer, age 30 of Colfax, California, two grandchildren, Brandon Christopher Cook, age 8, and Olivia Julienne Shafer, age 4, both of Colfax, California.
Karen Grace left the San Diego area after graduating from San Diego High School in 1968. She moved to San Francisco in 1969, during the Summer of Love, where she became a member of the Big Top commune with Dennis Peron, a well-known political pro-marijuana activist. In 1974, Karen Grace White left to buy a piece of land in Colfax, California, where she resided up until her death.
Karen Grace was a standup comedienne/show promoter for 13 years and helped so many comediennes defending the rights of female comics in a male-dominated industry. Her Woman Who Kick Comedy Butt shows throughout the country were very well-received and helped careers for comediennes including Beth Schumann, Reannie Roads, Rebecca Arthur, Gayla Johnson, Grace Fraga and Jovelyn Richards. Others that performed in WWKCB shows include Sandy Stec, Tina Allen, Jackie Kashian, Maria Bamford, Kira Soltanovich, Tissa Hammi and many many many more. White promoted the theme that women work hard on stage and are just as funny and cutting-edge as their male counterparts.
As a comic, Karen Grace opened for such musical acts as 3 Doors Down, Starship, Edgar Winter, Leon Russell, and Jethro Tull, as well as comedians Kevin Pollack, Jack Mayberry, Rocky LaPorte and Father Guido Sarducci. Her television credits included appearances on "Good Morning America" and the "Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon," and made her film debut in "The Independent," starring Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofalo. She also made thousands of fans laugh in Golden Gate Park from the stage of San Francisco's long-running annual "Comedy Day" celebration.
White, who had been given three months to live by doctors in November 2007, defied the odds and launched on a campaign to educate and raise money to fight the deadly disease, through the Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. She also started Laugh Prescriptions, writing jokes to cheer up cancer patients--a concept that will hopefully live on for many decades to come.
During her amazing life, Karen Grace worked as a paralegal, house cleaner, waitress, legal secretary and an entrepreneur, as well as a comedienne. In the 1970’s, she owned and operated Cook’s Pastries in Colfax, California and ran a cookie business in the 1960’s.
Karen Grace White’s greatest pride and joy was her daughter Alisa, her son-in-law Chris Shafer and her two grandchildren, Brandon and Olivia. The family was raised with love and was always there for each other. Everyone who met Karen Grace never forgot her—for her incredible energy and a positive attitude that never waned, right up until her final days.
Karen Grace loved surfing and was adept on a long board; she was known as a “hippie chick” and coveted the nickname. Her interests included traveling, great food, art, literature, theater, movies, gardening, music, cooking and her family.
Karen Grace White’s daughter Alisa will be planning a celebration of her mother’s life in the spring in her hometown of Colfax, Californ

7 comments:

Tony said...

I loved Grace, her spirit, her courage and the love she had for her daughter Alisa, her grandchildren and life itself.....

I do not know why people like Grace have to leave this world prematurely but her spirit will stay with us forever.

She made us laugh in life and will continue to do so......

Love lives on forever.

Bonnie Addario
xoxoxoxo

Jen said...

Grace. Ahhh Grace. Thank you for you. I'm so grateful we had you and your spirit to learn from. Thank you for who you had the courage to be your entire life. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
Always,
Jen Slusser

ghovde said...

The last time I saw Grace was at Bonnie Addario’s gala. She was in a wheelchair and…making jokes.

This is how I will remember Grace – a woman with an unbelievable sense of humor dedicated to the fight against lung cancer.

Talking to Grace, you just never knew what she would say next but it would most certainly make you laugh. All of us in the lung cancer community will miss her terribly.

Gloria Hovde
Co-chair, Lung Cancer Alliance-CA

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