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1933 Karen L. Brei 2024

Karen L. Brei

September 4, 1933 — June 29, 2024

Bettendorf, Iowa

Karen Lael (Helgason) Brei, 90, of Bettendorf, Iowa, passed away on June 29, 2024, from a sudden illness. 

Karen was born in Carrol, Iowa to Elsie May (Anderson) Helgason and Charles Wendel Helgason. She graduated from Clarion HS in 1951 and attended the University of Iowa. In 1954, she wed Richard Brei and their daughter was born in Davenport, Iowa in 1956. 

Karen worked as a secretary for the Unitarian Church, later as a legal secretary, then as a secretary for the Tri-City Symphony. In 1985, she and Richard moved to Chicago, where she worked as an administrative secretary for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a job she held for ten years. After she retired from the CSO, Karen and Richard moved to Niles, MI. They spent a happy ten years renovating a ranch-style house, doing almost all the work themselves. Their next move was to Geneseo, IL, then to Bettendorf, Iowa. 

Karen enjoyed classical music, biking, painting, playing Scrabble, traveling, and she read avidly. As a member of the DAR, she engaged speakers for the new citizens' naturalization ceremonies in Davenport. She also volunteered as a reader for APRIS (Augustana Public Radio Information Service). 

She is survived by her husband, Richard, her daughter, Theresa (Brei) Johnson, son-in-law Robin Johnson, her half brother, John Helgason, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, brothers William and Charles Helgason, sister Evelyn (Helgason) Merkl, and half brother Andrew Helgason. 

As per her wishes, there will be no memorial service. Cremation will take place at Trimble Crematory, Moline, Illinois, under the direction of Cremation Society of the Quad Cities.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Karen L. Brei, please visit our flower store.

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