For most of you the name Kari Winters may not mean much but for me, the name is more meaningful than words can say. Kari Winters was known in a niche market within a niche market. Kari, a multi-award winning cat writer was found dead in her home three weeks ago. In her too-short life, Kari made a difference for more cats, dogs and people than anyone will ever know. Certainly Kari never kept count. She just put herself forward and helped. It was the very essence of her being.
Born and raised in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, Kari had been a model in Florida. That sort of superficial life was not right for someone as talented and caring as Kari. Her youthful modeling career gave way to something far more in keeping with her soul when she moved back to Minnesota and then to North Dakota where she began her career as an advanced practice psychiatric nurse. When she had seen enough snow, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked at two major hospitals, reaching the pinnacle of her nursing career at UCLA Medical Center. She had a way of reaching people. She was born to help.
It was during this time that she began to work with rescue, helping countless dogs and cats. Among the places where she made a difference was The Amanda Foundation. Her gift for healing the soul and spirit of people worked magic with animals. Some of those she fostered became permanent members of her family. It was while she was volunteering in her spare time that she utilized another gift; she began to write for such publications as Cat Fancy and The Pet Press. A gifted writer, she could get an idea across in a succinct and easily understood prose that translated veterinary medical issues into something very easily understood by pet owners. Her signature line: Changing Animals Lives Through Writing. And so she did. Her article on Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) won the Cat Writers Association's Muse Medallion. Her article on Feline Asthma won the Cornell Feline Health Award, presented by Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine's esteemed Dr. Jim Richards who also died far too young. Another Special Award came from the ASPCA. And yet she didn't think she was doing that much. Not much? She was just changing the world for countless animals.Her website will remain up with articles in place: www.shelterpetsink.com.
Illness and subsequent surgeries forced Kari to sell her beloved home and retire from the career she loved since she could no longer afford to live in Los Angeles. California's loss was New Mexico's gain. In three short years living in Albuquerque she became active in rescue, fostering cats and dogs, rehabilitating them so that they could go to "forever homes." Kari plunged into volunteering with Albuquerque's Kennel Kompadres. She was the biggest fundraiser for The Mayor's Dog Ball, and likely their biggest donor. When someone couldn't donate money she asked for merchandise to be auctioned at the Ball. Even while undergoing surgeries and treatment in New Mexico she never faltered in her dedication to the animals. And never hesitated to be there for her friends. She was as far away as the phone, never passing judgement, just listening, offering advice only when asked. She cared about every living creature. She was the essence of selflessness.
She also wrote a book, Princess Fiona, My Purrsonal Story, with every penny of the money from sales going to help abandoned animals. Kari gave with her whole heart.
She had a wonderful sense of humor and a sweet, lilting voice. It's hard to fathom how that voice could be silenced, how there could possibly be a world without Kari Winters in it.
There will be a Special Award for writing about Rescue and Rehabilitation in Kari's name. And we're trying to raise enough money for a permanent memorial in Kari's name in Albuquerque. She will not be forgotten.
Kari has left her mother, Leona Winters, in Minnesota, countless friends, colleagues, cats and dogs whose lives were forever changed for the better because of Kari. She has also left a huge hole in the world and in the hearts of those who knew her.
If you're so inclined, every penny counts toward helping the animals and raising funds for a permanent memorial to Kari. Donations can be sent to:
Albuquerque Kennel Kompadres, Inc.
139 Palacio Road
Corrales, NM 87048
Kari believed that the body was unimportant but the soul lives on. If you feel a gentle breeze, or the sound of melodic chimes in the breeze, think of Kari. It would be nice to think that in some way she is still with us.
Causes Darlene Arden Supports
The Marcia Polimer Abrams Fund for Canine Behavior Studies at the AKC Canine Health Foundation