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Karen Irene Cushing

May 11, 1956 - September 12, 2022


ALFRED – Karen Irene Cushing, 66, passed away on Monday (September 12, 2022) in her home, surrounded by the things she loved, following a courageous fight against cancer. Karen was born on May 11, 1956, in North Hornell to Val M. and Elsie M. (Brown) Cushing. She spent her childhood and much of her adult life in Alfred, which is the home of her heart. She was a 1974 graduate of Alfred-Almond Central School. She later earned an Associate’s Degree from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, Pa. and earned her Bachelors of Fine Art from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.

Most recently, Karen worked as a Quality Assurance Inspector at DYCO Electronics in Hornell where she was dearly beloved. Throughout her career Karen has always been admired by her colleagues for her tirelessly dedicated work ethic, critical eye, and talent. Karen always gave her all in both her professional and personal life. Karen devoted much of her career to the graphic arts, mastering silk-screen lithography. Over the last decade, Karen began using fabric as her preferred medium for artistic expression. She possessed an incredible eye for putting fabrics, patterns, colors, and personal touches together. Many who were loved by Karen were fortunate enough to have been gifted cherished items that she made.

Karen is survived by a daughter, Frances Elsie (Luand C. Gonzalez) Taormina of Yonkers; two brothers, Mark A. (Janice Thies) Cushing of Ithaca and Eric M. (Eri) Cushing of Alfred; and one grandson, Lucas Val Gonzalez. She was predeceased by her sister, Nancy K. Cushing Daniels.

Anyone who had the honor of knowing Karen would describe her as the most selfless and vibrant person they knew. She cared deeply for those in her circle of friends and family, selflessly and without hesitation, rushing to help them in their times of need. Karen was a tireless defender of those who were less fortunate. Her ideals and values guided every aspect of her life. She embodied all that was sacred in this world.

Karen was a fierce protector of nature and all living animals, whether it be ensuring snapping turtles or toads were safely out of harm’s way on the road or helping a fallen baby bird climb to safety. From childhood through her adult life, Karen’s house was always a place filled with warmth and beloved pet companions. Over the past decades, she also became a foster mother to many of Alfred’s feral cats, where she went above and beyond to ensure their health and safety, at times sacrificing her own material needs.

Karen’s creativity was an ever-present force in her life. She was always working on something whether it was graphic design, sketching, painting, creating paper or fabric objects, or sculptural forms. She cherished the written word, documenting all that was important to her through the sacred art of letter writing. Her love for art was matched by her love of books. She had a particular affection for children’s books, especially first editions and those that were reminiscent of her childhood. Her creativity and love of reading fueled a wildly invigorating and ever vibrant imagination. Karen accumulated an expansive personal library collection while also building one for her daughter and grandson, which will be lifelong treasures to be handed down for generations. Karen was constantly scouring book and garage sales for “finds” and would excitedly gift her friends with books she knew would pique their interests.

She also enriched the lives around her by sharing her eclectic and wide-ranging love of music.  From listening to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Sundays, to the old Leadbelly and Odetta recordings, from the Buena Vista Social Club or Gypsy Kings to the B-52’s or The Beatles, she was always sending links for music. Her musical ear reached countless regions and nearly every continent.

Not an earthly day went by without Karen finding and connecting with the magic and wonder which surrounds us all and sharing it with those she loved. Karen found immense joy in gift giving and her generosity and love for all living things knew no bounds. Nothing could make Karen happier than finding the perfect gift for someone (which she managed to do incredibly often) and being able to see their reaction when they received it.

There is a quote by Rumi which says, “You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop” and there is no better way to describe Karen. Karen will be profoundly missed through every second of every day, yet her presence and ability to affect joy and wonder will live timelessly on. Her vibrancy and awe-inspiring curiosity for the world will carry her grandson through every day of his life. Karen, Mom, Nona – thank you for being our limitless ocean.

A private Remembrance was held to honor Karen following her passing. Her family will be coordinating a larger Celebration of Life. Arrangements are under the direction of Baker-Swan Funeral Home in Andover. Online condolences may be offered at If anyone would like to honor Karen’s legacy, please consider donating in her name to the Hudson Valley Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, 9 Barnes Drive, Poughkeepsie NY, 12603. © 2022 Baker-Swan Funeral Home.

Private Celebration of Life 



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4 Messages

  1. I remember Karen as a very happy, enthusiastic gal that was always creating something. She would come into my shop, The Wooden Shuttle on the corner of North Main and W. University Streets of handcrafted gifts, ready buy a special gift or beads and findings to make jewelry. She would often bring her young daughter in to make something out of the beads, between 1983 – 1997. I am sorry that she had cancer and that it ended her life early.

  2. Really loved Karen. So sad to see that she passed away. Thought she was doing fine. Very upset here. 🙏 pray that she is in a better place now. Took me by complete surprise.

  3. Your message

    I was saddened to read in The Alfred Sun of Karen Cushing’s passing. My family lived at 4 Sayles Street. After Elsie Binns died, my mother, Lois, purchased 2 Sayles Street from Elizabeth and Rosemary and had many wonderful tenants. Karen and Frances lived there in good friendship with my mother and I enjoyed seeing both of them on visits. Frances: my family and yours were good family friends and that connection remains strong through myself and my sister Jennifer. Our love and thoughts to you.

  4. So sad to learn that Karen has passed. I didn’t get a chance to spend much time with Karen lately, but I have so many fond memories of her growing up. Karen had such a joyous spirit and heart and was always a wonderful friend to our family and she will be missed greatly.


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