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Official Obituary of

Karen Lee Colburn

August 16, 1955 ~ October 11, 2023 (age 68) 68 Years Old
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Karen Colburn Obituary


Born on August 16, 1955, in Denver, Colorado, Karen was a proud third-generation Coloradan, cherishing her family's silver-mining legacy. Her childhood was filled with snow skiing trips in Breckenridge, Vail, and Aspen, picturesque summers boating on Granby Lake, and endless horseback rides. As a small child, she shared early mornings with her dad, who even poured a little coffee in her morning milk, a tradition she continued by serving delicious, gourmet coffee to anyone who had the pleasure of waking up on her ranch. Her dream of having her own horse came true in 8th grade when she received her first horse, Goldie, sparking a love that endured a lifetime. In the 1970s, Karen could be seen driving her turquoise blue Bronco on University Boulevard while listening to Buffalo Springfield and James Taylor on the radio.

She attended St. John’s Catholic School, Merrill Jr. High School, and St. Mary’s Academy High School, eventually progressing to the University of Denver for her higher education. It was there that she earned both undergraduate and law degrees. Karen began her law career working in the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender. It was grueling work; she was handed 125 cases on her first day. She was creative–a brilliant problem solver. In order to hone her craft as a trial lawyer, she took acting classes. Those jurors didn’t know what hit them! Eventually, she joined a prominent law firm specializing in tort litigation. After much professional and personal success, she opened her own law practice in Denver, and later in Canon City, inspiring many paralegals along the way to pursue law school.

Karen’s animals were her children. Her dogs were Mokush, Kenya, Annie, Jack, Concha, Zoe, Atticus, Deaglan, and Finnegan. Her horses were Goldie, Remy, Grace, Mac, and Chance. She was an accomplished equestrian, competing in English Show Jumping, Cross-Country Pair Pace, and Dressage; she was a distinguished member of the Arapahoe Hunt Club and Columbine Polo Club… and was known to enjoy a beer, vodka, or shot after a vigorous ride. Karen's love of horses led her to play polo where she met Cort Stevens, the man of her dreams, who would become her husband of 23 years. Those two never shied away from a chance to celebrate, and they married one another on New Years Eve, 1999, (on Y2K!) exchanging vows as the year turned, and therefore, entered a new millenia together. Karen wore her mother’s wedding dress and Cort wore a tuxedo with tails. As a practical joke, someone turned off the power to the house at midnight. Just as everyone started to panic, Cort’s mother famously noticed that the lights were on in the house across the street. All was well, indeed. Karen and Cort enjoyed a beautiful life together in Denver before moving to Canon City. They traveled extensively and eventually acquired their beautiful ranch property, where they built a custom log home with a pond. Karen regularly opened her home to her book and garden club, her family, and her dear friends—whom she treasured as blood relationships.

Karen and Cort, a retired marine, promoted the emotional rehabilitation of disabled and active military service personnel and disabled veterans through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing events at their ranch, a legacy her family hopes to continue in their honor. Life took an unexpected turn when Karen experienced a horse-back riding accident, breaking her back. Undeterred, she mastered the wheel chair and a 4-wheeler, and continued to enjoy time at the ranch, travel, and host events with family and neighbors. Despite the challenges, Karen remained one of the happiest and most generous individuals. True to form, she always found inventive ways to give… she and Cort regularly organized a winter firewood drive for those in need; and one time they gifted one of their nephews a 1997 F-250 Turbo Diesel Truck that had previously belonged to Cort. That thing was big and loud… but can you think of a cooler gift for a 16-year-old?!

Early in 2023, Cort became ill and unexpectedly died on August 20. Karen’s heart was broken and she passed away soon after. It often happens to people so deeply in love: They leave this earth together. Karen Colburn, 68, passed away on October 11, 2023, at her Canon City ranch. Preceded in death by her parents and husband, she is survived by her siblings and nephews. Karen is the daughter of Mary Frances “Terri” Kemme Colburn and Cyrus Leo Colburn, Jr. She is survived by her siblings Pamela Colburn, Cyrus Colburn III (Rebecca), Michele Colburn Gonzalez (Carlos) and nephews Christopher Colburn (Jessica), John Colburn (Kerry), Nicholas Gonzalez and Ryan Gonzalez. Karen is stepmother to Francis Stevens Terc (Marcos), step grandmother to Maya (Jose), MaKayla, and Marcos and step great-grandmother to Oakley. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Humane Society of Fremont County in Canon City or Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing - Colorado Springs chapter. Karen's mind was complex and powerful, and her spirit was kind and generous. A leader who kept her family close, she will be remembered for her intelligence, generosity, and fun-loving spirit. Karen enjoyed 68 well-spent years, leaving behind warm stories that will endure for years to come. In life and death, it's essential to know where you are going and who you are going with. In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the way, the life, and the truth." The decision to believe in Jesus is personal, and Karen would encourage everyone to make their own choice. A party is planned on June 8, 2024 to celebrate Karen's life. All are invited to Canon City to kick up their heels and honor the vibrant spirit of Karen Lee Colburn.


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