Memories & Condolences

Karen Elaine Magee Pape

Karen passed away peacefully at home on Saturday June 2, 2018. Daughter of the late Brian and Elaine Magee. Mother of Sarah, Aaron (Lisa Richardson), and loving Nana to Daniela and Jack. Much-loved sister of Brian (Susan) Magee, Ivan Magee and the late Judy (Normand) Baril. Beloved former spouse of Paul Pape. Proud aunt of Brendan, Diana & Charles. Karen was a pillar of strength for her family with an enormous heart.

A graduate of Havergal College, McGill University and the University of Toronto Medical School, Karen was a neonatologist at The Hospital for Sick Children, the Director of the Neonatal Follow - Up Program and the President of the Medical Staff. Widely published, she was instrumental in the development of neonatal ultra sound brain scanning now used in intensive care units around the world. After leaving HSC, Karen became a pioneer in the field of neuroplasticity in children with early brain and nerve injuries. She was a tireless advocate for a revolution in the treatment for children with cerebral palsy. Karen captured this work in her recently published book, The Boy Who Could Run But Not Walk.

She was a rebel with a cause who took no prisoners nor suffered fools. Karen took the road less travelled by and that made all the difference to thousands of her patients and their families. To the end, Karen was still thinking of ways to advocate for improving the treatments available for children with early brain and nerve injuries. She did not go gentle into that good night. In the weeks before her death, Karen endowed a foundation to provide funds to continue her work in this field.

Her family would like to thank Wing Lam and Pia Stampe for their support.
There will be a celebration of Karen’s life on Tuesday June 12, 2018 at The Rosedale Golf Club from 4 to 7pm. In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to consider a donation to Karen’s foundation.

Memories & Condolences


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42 entries.
John Reeves
So sad to see Karen gone but I'm certain she was fiesty to the end! The last time I saw her, my wife and I joined Karen for a very pleasant lunch at her Florida abode in the spring of 2017. Although I first did business with Karen back in the early 80's and we met infrequently over the years, this was the first time we were able to overlap and get together in our mutual southern winter homes. John & Erin Reeves (Ottawa)
Marguerite Senecal
Karen was a Brave Pathfinder, a Courageous Truth-teller and an Extraordinary Scientist. She was always ready to ask the next question and to challenge the most entrenched dogma and assumptions, even her own. I interviewed and filmed Karen when she was first working with a young child, Michelle Kungl, who was given a bleak prognosis for a short, dependent life, and who is thriving today at 35, (see above tribute). I am in awe of the strength of Karen's convictions, her utter refusal to take 'no' for an answer and her astounding persistence and perseverance. In 2003 Karen agreed to be included in "Northern Lights: Outstanding Canadian Women". I hoped that young women reading her story would be encouraged by how she found her way into her chosen field, and uplifted by her discoveries and enduring commitment to both her patients and the advancement of science. Personally, I loved her sharp mind and her sense of humour, and found her uncensored language refreshing and bracing. Saying what she saw, no holds barred with people she trusted, seemed to help her to cope with the upset she felt when her ideas and discoveries were met at times with a stubborn refusal to explore and question. She was tough in the best sense. In her own words, she had a "less than conciliatory personality", (which has its advantages). But she was also a woman of great sensitivity and empathy, who cared and loved deeply, and understood the human condition. We have lost a truly Outstanding woman, physician and Canadian. We can best honour her by carrying her mission forward with a similar passion. Thank you Karen, for making the world a better place for all of us and for shining your brilliant light into corners of ignorance and darkness.
Christine Egan
I wish I could be in Toronto today to celebrate Karen's life and work. I too, like many of you, am at a loss for words in describing the impact that Karen Pape MD had on me in my professional life as well as scores of others, whose lives she touched. I loved her "edge" and ability to state simply what is. Every day in my clinic I hear Karen's words as I interact with clients and families. So many pearls of wisdom, but one of my favorites is, "In my world, two year olds don't make medical decisions"...gotta love it! With tears in my eyes, I will raise a glass of chardonnay today and toast to my mentor, my hero and my friend, Karen Pape. For those of us who knew her well, carried out her work and benefited from her boldness, it may now be time to carry her legacy forward.
Ruth Grant-Bailey, Cincinnati OH
There are no words. The world has lost such an incredible feisty trailblazer for the cerebral palsy community especially the teenagers. Teenagers are often thought of "that's it, they are where they will be" but Dr. Pape didn't believe that. She even proved that with my son, Mason. Mason made tremendous progress following an intensive program with Pia Stampe, PT under Karen's direction. Dr. Pape was so knowledgeable, so loving, so approachable, generous, kind, and so passionate about wanting change for our kids!!! My heart aches for her family, friends, and all of the lives she has touched. However, I'm huge believer and I know that Karen will continue her work from the other side. The work she left on Earth (i.e. her blogs, books, relationships) will continue to flourish, and she will guide and mentor us through her spiritual side (versus physical side). Rest, Karen. Rejoice in heaven and bask in your accomplishments. We look forward to you "showing up" in different ways and continuing your trailblazing efforts from the other side. You were an amazing person and that person (humanly body) was made up of an AMAZING soul and spirit!!! Love you, girl!! Thinking of you, family, and friends as your life is celebrated today in Canada!
Lyn, Michelle Kungl and Family
To say that Karen influenced our daughter’s life and our family would be an incredible understatement. I met Karen 36 years ago, two days after the birth of my beautiful first child, Michelle Kungl. During the delivery, it was thought that Michelle’s spinal cord had been severed at C3 and as a result she required an immediate tracheostomy and to be put on a life supporting ventilator. Her diagnosis was dismal. We were told that she would not likely live more than a few months and that she would never have any function below the neck nor be able to live off of a ventilator. But Michelle survived. She lived at Sick Children’s Hospital for a full 7 years, the first 3 in the ICU. She was transferred to Bloorview for the following 7 years, only able to come home with support staff for a few days at a time. The whole time and up until months before she passed away Karen was ever present in her and our families lives. Karen never gave up trying to come up with ideas about how Michelle’s situation might be improved. Karen Pape is the reason Michelle finally sat up on her own at the age of 3, walked at the age of 7, was weaned off the ventilator for longer and longer periods of time. Fast forward to today and you will find that Michelle spends as much as 10 hours at a time free of her ventilator, lives in her own apartment and drives her own vehicle to her full-time job. These were the unbelievable accomplishments that Karen directly helped Michelle to achieve. Karen was an ongoing advocate and cheerleader for Michelle and our whole family and she will be remembered with love and appreciation forever.
Victoria Naraghi
I have lost someone I truly respected, admired and loved. Your smile, wit and honesty will be sorely missed. I was privileged to have you be a part of my life and will miss you. You will be with me in my heart eternally.
Mary Lynne Stewart and Margaret Purcell
Karen was a great friend to March of Dimes. We were very saddened to hear about her passing. Blessings during this time.
Matthew Blake
The Cerebral Palsy community has lost a great advocate and warrior in the medical world! May God Bless Dr. Pape! Thank you for all your help you gave countless individuals like me who live with the daily struggles of cerebral palsy!
Francine Litz
Dr. Pape, you've done well. You opened up our minds to new concepts and new tools. You helped so many children, so many families. Rest in peace.
Tema Stein Stotland
I’m not usually at a loss for words but the loss of Karen has totally devastated me. I write this with tears in my eyes- sadness over the loss of this beautiful woman whose tenacity and directness inspired me throughout my entire career and for the support and respect that she showed me. She guided and gave hope to so many families with concrete and often direct suggestions for seeking help. She gave families hope when it was taken away from them. She did not suffer fools easily and I’m happy that I was in her good graces. She actually honoured me in her beautiful book. She is up there with Sarah Forsythe, Barb Macdonald and Sharon Fullerton. I miss them all.
Suzanne Davis Bombria
I first met Karen at an NDT Instructor Meeting. I fell in love with her positive message of hope, and her amazing ability to think outside of the box and not accept the 'status quo'. In addition to being a therapist I am also the mother of a child with cerebral palsy and Karen inspired me to do even more for my son and the children I worked with. Karen was a brilliant light and a tireless advocate for the children. Karen's legacy will live on. I share her name and her message whenever I am teaching. This is a quote from one of the therapists that I introduced to her book. "Just reading her book makes me want to meet this inspiring woman. She gives hope from page 1. I quote her when I speak with some parents!" She will be terribly missed by so many. To her family, thank you for sharing her with the rest of us. It was a great joy to know her, and to share her love and enthusiasm.
Assosiation for Conductive Education of North America
The Association for Conductive Education in North America (ACENA) was saddened to hear of Karen's passing. Karen had an affinity for the many children who participated in our programs throughout North America. She kindly gave her time to our research committee in helping us better explore approaches to conductive education. Her passion, keen mind and generosity to share made a difference to our efforts. On behalf of our Board, centers and members, and the hundreds of children whom we serve, we send our sincere condolences. Karen will be missed, and we shall never forget her.
Vanda and Richard Roseboom
Deeply saddened by the loss of such a brilliant and passionate women. You had a profound impact on our lives Karen and we honour you.
Karen 'Krash' Orlando
Karen was an angel on this earth…not a quiet one, but one who helped so many people lead a better life. Her commitment, dedication and beliefs transformed many peoples’ lives. She helped me believe that I could help CP and brachial plexus affected people incorporating her philosophy and techniques and ultimately I became a better therapist by incorporating her work. I am honoured that she included me in a piece of her wonderful piece of work that she documented in her book. She did everything her way…always called a spade a spade. That wasn’t a bad thing. It made her patients work harder so they could show her that they could get results…and they did. Karen was always feisty, never accepted a problem as a problem. It could be overcome with a lot of hard work that she emphasized with her patients. Karen never gave in. She fought every step of her final journey, refusing to use sticks or a walker when offered. Her tenacity and beliefs even in her own failing physical condition always were her driving force. She is a person I will never forget. I will always try to be like Karen. At least the name is helpful! I will continue to use her brilliant philosophy and beliefs to make other lives better as she did so well. May others learn from her. She has left an amazing legacy, which will help anyone who is experiencing such neurological problems. They can be conquered as she says clearly in her book, ‘The boy who could run, but not walk’. We will all miss her dearly. May she rest in peace.
Bill, Cheryl & Chad Glendening
So sad to hear about Dr. Pape’s passing. We met her 25 years ago when she forever changed our son's life and ours. We are forever grateful to have worked with her. The world has lost a truly special person.
Sandy Lemm
A force. A gem. A game changer. Honoured to have known you, Karen.
Dede and Dick Milone
To all of Karen's Family, please accept our deepest sympathy. We have come to know Karen first through our mutual residence at Lost Tree Village in Florida. It was only after that, as a physician myself, that I came to learn of Karen's exceptional medical talent, expertise, and truly world-wide renown in the care of pediatric neurological conditions, particularly CP. When I informed a mutual colleague about her death, someone who had worked closely with her in the field of CP, he commented, "Karen was a wonderful colleague who saw beyond the diagnosis to the child and the family. Her understanding of conditions such as CP were years ahead of the pace of the field". He went on to add, touchingly, "she may have a neck ache in heaven with the number of jewels in her crown". How well said, and how true. It can also be said of Karen, and it is reflected in a number of the entries here, she was so "down to earth", and not at all taken with her own importance as a physician, researcher, educator, writer, innovator, and so many other talents. Few people leave such an indelible mark in this world, and please know how much, and how sincerely she will be missed my by so many of us.
Leslie McKibben
Thank you Karen!! The passion you had in making kids with neurological compromise meet their maximal potentials was outstanding. Your ability to share your amazing outlook on life, both professionally and personally, was terrific and helped many therapists become better people. I am honored that you saw something in me that I did not know was there and allowed me to gain wisdom from you, to teach with you. On a personal note - thank you for introducing me to many wonderful people in your life- Sarah and Aaron, your dad and Wing (who I miss dearly!) I will smile when I think about you and not be sad. I love you my friend and your legacy will never end in the therapy community.
Amanda Gallimore, Robyn Vander Vennen and Davis Vander Vennen
It saddened us greatly to hear of Dr. Pape's passing this past weekend. Our son, Davis, was born last July, non-responsive and seizing. He had suffered an hypoxic episode during labour, which resulted in severe brain damage. The first month in hospital was a nightmare of bleak prognoses. And then we met Dr. Pape. She shone a bright light of hope into our darkest moments. She gave us our fight back, the greatest gift anyone can give to new special needs parents. Over the months, Dr. Pape was kind enough to keep up-to-date on Davis and email us suggestions and opinions towards his care. I have every email she wrote and often read them back if I need a little kick of inspiration. We are beyond grateful for her care and were so honoured to have met her. We will forever be thankful for her guidance and expertise.
Rhona Feldt-Stein
I have had the honour and the privilege of knowing and working with Karen for over 30 years. She was a mentor, a colleague and a friend who constantly challenged me to be a better therapist, from our days at Sick Kids, at the Magee Clinic and to the present. I am devastated by her loss. Karen's knowledge, her tenacity, her vigor and yet her softer side of caring and sharing, made the world, those she worked with and treated all the better for it. She made me a better person and certainly a better therapist (who was forced to think 'outside the box') and I am truly grateful for doing so. She honoured me by asking me for feedback and input into her book, The Boy Who Could Run but Not Walk, something I will always cherish. Our love of dogs was a shared kinship. Karen's passion, research, need to make the world a better place for challenged children and huge intelligence is an enormous loss. May her memory, drive, compassion and kind heart be an inspiration to her family and those who knew her.