Cover photo for Dr. Karen Stubenvoll's Obituary
1958 Dr. 2018

Dr. Karen Stubenvoll

October 11, 1958 — October 24, 2018

Dr. Karen Pitts Stubenvoll .of Duluth, died Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at Solvay Hospice House, due to ALS, with family and friends by her side.

Karen was born Oct. 11, 1958 in Pensacola, Fla. to Robert and Sue (Fussell) Pitts. Shortly thereafter, she and her family returned to their home town of Erin, Tenn. where she grew up surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, along with her parents and brothers.

Karen graduated from Houston County High School in Erin, Tenn., and Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. She received her medical degree from Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn., and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky.

Karen had a fulfilling medical career for 29 years in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Minnesota, practicing General Internal Medicine and then working as a Hospitalist. Karen moved to Duluth, Minn. in 2002 where she worked as a hospitalist for Essentia Health.

Her academic appointments included Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She was a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. As a member of Health Volunteers Overseas, she completed three medical missions to the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

Karen was an enthusiastic volunteer for Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory beginning in 2004, served as board chair from 2011 to 2016, and received the Hawk Ridge Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

She married Dr. Robert Stubenvoll of Duluth in 2010, and they especially enjoyed their yearly canoe camping trips in Quetico Provincial Park in Canada; pulling sleds in the winter to the Boundary Waters and to Tettegouche State Park; and traveling by tandem bicycle through European countries. Until she was stricken with ALS in 2016, Karen was an adventurous traveler, with many trips throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe, and finally to Japan. She loved hiking, bicycling, bird watching, and winter sports in her adopted home of northern Minnesota.

Philanthropy was important to Karen, and she established two scholarships: the Robert C. and Sue F. Pitts Endowed Scholarship at Austin Peay State University, and the Karen Pitts Stubenvoll MD Scholarship Endowment at Quillen College of Medicine.

Karen was a member of Erin United Methodist Church in Erin, Tenn.

She was previously married to Ivan Foster of Slayden, Tenn.

Karen was preceded in death by her grandparents [Walter and Georgia (Carson) Pitts and James Buford and Nanny Ether (Parchman) Fussell] and by her parents.

She is survived by her loving husband, Bob; by her step-children Jeannie (Mike) Schumacher of St. Paul and Robb (Laura) Stubenvoll of Minneapolis; grandson Jameson Michael Schumacher; by her three brothers Karl (Cindy Shaw) Pitts of Richland, Wash.; Chris (Gaye) Pitts of Erin, Tenn.; and Andy (Barbie) Pitts of Lafayette, Tenn. She is also survived by her ten nephews and nieces: Nathaniel (Kat Reinhart), William (fiancée Sara Cunningham), Michelle (partner Danny Christiansen), Matthew, Riley (fiancé Chris Schoolfield), Mary Mac, Carson, Curtis (Lyn), Aaron (Lauren), and Daniel (Ashley) Pitts. She is also survived by loving in-laws, aunts, uncles, and many cousins.

She leaves behind many friends in Duluth, in Tennessee, and in various locales throughout the United States and the world.

Visitation .will be Sunday November 4, 2018 from 4-6pm at Doughtery Funeral Home and continue from 10am to the 11am funeral service at First United Methodist Church (Coppertop), 230 E Skylnine Pkwy, Duluth, MN

Services also will be held in Erin, Tenn. Interment of ashes will be at Erin Oak Hill Cemetery.

Memorials suggested to Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, P.O. Box 3006

Duluth MN 55803-3006, www.hawkridge.org or the Robert C. and Sue  F. Pitts Endowment

Austin Peay State University Foundation, P.O. Box 4417 Clarksville, TN  37044 or the

Karen Pitts Stubenvoll, MD Scholarship Endowment

Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University.

ETSU Advancement, PO Box 70721, Johnson City TN 37614

Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, 600 E 2nd St. Duluth, MN, (218) 727-3555.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Karen Stubenvoll, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, November 4, 2018

4:00 - 6:00pm

Dougherty Funeral Home

600 E 2nd St, Duluth, MN 55805

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Monday, November 5, 2018

10:00 - 11:00am

First United Methodist "Copper Top" Church

230 E Skyline Pkwy, Duluth, MN 55811

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Memorial Service

Monday, November 5, 2018

Starts at 11:00am

First United Methodist "Copper Top" Church

230 E Skyline Pkwy, Duluth, MN 55811

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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