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Kirsten E. Riley

February 06, 1968 - February 20, 2020

Visitation - Tuesday

March 10, 2020
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center

Prayer Service - Tuesday

March 10, 2020
- 6:30 PM

Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center

Requiem Mass - Wednesday

March 11, 2020
- 10:00 AM

St. Mary's Cathedral, Fargo ND


Boulger Funeral Home

Kirsten E. Riley

February 06, 1968 - February 20, 2020


Kirsten Elizabeth Riley formerly of West Fargo, North Dakota, passed away on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at the Halstad Living Center, Halstad, Minnesota. She had been a longtime resident of Svee homes operated by Red River Human Services in West Fargo. She was in the care of hospice at the time of her death.
Kirsten was born on February 6, 1968 in Lincoln, Nebraska, the daughter of Karma Jean Ibsen and Thomas Joseph Riley. Kirsten was educated in schools in Westchester County, New York, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and Greensboro, North Carolina. She graduated from Marquette School in Champaign in 1989 and briefly attended Parkland College there.
Kirsten was well travelled, living in Nebraska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, North Carolina and Alabama before moving to North Dakota in 1998. She summered at Kennebunk Beach ME for many years. As an adult she lived for long periods in Transitional Care facilities in Urbana, Illinois, and then in West Fargo ND.
In Illinois, Kirsten worked in food service for more than 10 years at an Arbys where she was Employee of the Month several times as well as once being named Employee of the Year. She also worked for a short time in food service at a Red Lobster, in Birmingham, Alabama. When she came to North Dakota, on her own initiative (there was little supported employment in North Dakota at the time), she applied for and was accepted as an employee at an Arbys. Later in life she worked for 20 years combined at the Developmental Work Activities Center (DWAC) at Southeast Human Services Center and later at The Vocational Training Center (VTC).
Kirsten faced many challenges in her life. Besides being Down Syndrome and a type one diabetic, she later suffered from celiac disease. She overcame each of these challenges as they showed themselves, learning to monitor her blood sugars and managing them and a gluten free diet on her own. She was disciplined in handling her challenges, but she showed a love of life that never faltered and that was an inspiration to many who interacted with her.
Kirsten was a member of St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Fargo, and she was a volunteer for many organizations. She was a member of the Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society and volunteered with them as she was able. She was also a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary and volunteered with the Fargo West Rotary Club in their fundraising activities and with the FM-AM Rotary at the Roger Maris Cancer Run. An avid NDSU football fan, she held season tickets and enjoyed cheering them on to eight FCS National Championships.
She participated actively over the years in a range of sports from swimming to bowling and ice skating. She excelled in gymnastics, winning Gold and Silver medals at the 1987 International Special Olympics in South Bend, Indiana, in Floor Exercise and in Balance Beam. In later years she loved coloring and latch hook, and gave numerous latch hooked art works for Christmas and birthday presents.
Kirsten is survived by her mother, Karma Ibsen (Dan Folk), of Urbana IL and her father Tom (Ann), of Fargo ND, her sisters Kate of Brasilia BR, Erin Thais of Kansas City, MO, and a stepsister Julia Trujillo (Pete) of Austin TX.
She is also survived by her niece, Isabella Trujillo, nephews Aidan Hulting, Joshua Trujillo and Kai Wakinyan Old Horse Riley, and by her aunts Joy Ibsen (Don Lenef) of Albuquerque NM, Miriam Flecca (Tony) of Waltham MA, and uncles Joseph Gerard Riley Jr. of Surprise AZ, Robert Riley (Judi) of Saco ME, and Christopher Riley (Hylah) of Kennebunk ME. Cousins include Michael Riley (Jess) of Middletown NJ, Mark Riley (Emily) of Brooklyn NY, Nathan Riley (Erin) of San Francisco CA, Elizabeth Riley of Portland ME, Casey and Nicholas Riley of Kennebunk ME, Thea Martin of Waxhaw NC, Mitch Martin (Susan) of Lisle IL, Noah Martin (Christine Arylo) of Bainbridge Island WA, Matthew (Kathleen) and Brian (Catherine) Kiernan of Waltham, Sheri Flecca of Newton MA, and Lisa Skane of Riverside CA, Laura Ibsen of Portland OR, and Andrea Walker of Great Falls MT.
She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Dr. Joseph Gerard and Virginia Cunningham Riley of Waltham MA, and Rev. Harald and Asta Ibsen of Clinton IA, and her Uncle David Arnold Ibsen (Misty) of Portland OR.
Kirsten’s family would like to thank all those people who helped Kirsten achieve her goals and live a positive and productive life, especially the staff at Developmental Services Center, Champaign IL, Svee Home of Red River Human Services, Fargo, DWAC and VTC, Fargo, Special Olympics, Southeast Human Service Center of the ND Department of Human Services, The Halstad Living Center, Halstad MN, the Sanford Health System and Hospice of the Red River Valley.
Kirsten was cremated at Riverside Cemetery, Fargo, on February 24, 2020. A celebration of Kirsten’s life and Prayer Vigil will be held at Boulger Funeral Home, Fargo, from 5 PM to 7 PM on March 10, 2020.
A Requiem Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Broadway, Fargo, at 10:00 AM on March 11 with a light lunch served in the church social hall following the service.
Interment will occur at a later date in Calvary Cemetery in Waltham MA.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to ND Special Olympics, Gigi’s Playhouse, the American Diabetes Association, The Red River Human Services Foundation or a charity of your choice. Online memories can be shared at www.Boulgerfuneralhome.com


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21 responses to “Kirsten E. Riley”

  1. Kathy Tehven says:

    I am so sorry for your loss Tom and Ann. Kirsten was so very special. She will be missed. Hugs.

  2. Ann Boutwell says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. Prayers to her family and friends. I had the pleasure to work with her as a nurse while she was at DWAC. She made a huge impression on me during that short time I worked with her. Loved her spunk and her contagious smile. Heaven gained a beautiful soul!

  3. Gayle Johnson says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time of sadness.

  4. Annette Becherer says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I knew Kirsten when she lived in Champaign. I remember her zest for life.

  5. Pat and Don Sullivan says:

    We are so sorry to hear about Kirsten. She was so delightful when we met her in Texas.Our deepest sympathy go to you and family.

  6. Amy Blehm says:

    I’m sorry for lost best roommate I could ask for

  7. Kalomiris family says:

    Kirsten shined her light so brightly throughout her life, especially her love of music and dancing. I will always carry her smile in my heart. Sending hugs and love to you from Ted, Becca, Colin, Leila and Andrew.

  8. Noni and family says:

    Dear Karma, Dan, Thomas and Ann, Kate and Erin, Aidan and rest of the family. We are very sad that dear loving Kirsten is no longer with us. She was very loved by everyone. A person like Kirsten is nothing but a gift from God to have in people’s lives. May she rest in peace and will be forever in our hearts and memories. Love Maria Navarro and family.

  9. rick orr says:

    A beautiful lady…remembering times at The Station Theatre..wonderful memories.

  10. Kevin and Harriette McCaul says:

    We are sorry to hear of Kirsten’s passing. She was an amazing young woman who lived a full and active life.

  11. Emily Hilgers says:

    Kirsten was a bright light and a joy to serve. She brightened a room with her smile. It was a privilege to be a part of her life. She will be missed. My thoughts are with you all.

  12. Sheila Lincicome says:

    Always enjoyed seeing her smiling face at the Champaign Arby’s. She was a very special person!
    Made our day.
    Denny and Sheila Lincicome

  13. Alan and Pat Madsen says:

    We are so.sorry for your loss. We remember Kirsten with great fondness. Alan and Pat Madsen.

  14. Alicia (Helion) Belay says:

    Dear Tom and Ann,
    I only met Kirsten a few times, but she made a big impression on me. She was an inspiring woman. Thank you for providing her support and love; love from family was certainly key for Kirsten to become such an amazing lady!

  15. Donn Peterson says:

    Our sympathy to you in the loss of your loved one.

    Donn and Donna Peterson

  16. Chad Volk says:

    I will miss our high-fives that we shared after every BISON score. We all lose today. My thoughts and prayers with you Tom and Ann.

  17. Hazel Meidlinger says:

    My sympathies to the family she will be greatly missed .

  18. Amanda McMahon says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I got to know Kirsten when I worked at SVEE homes. She taught me a lot about patience and that a positive attitude and smile can go a long way in brightening someone’s day. Kirsten gave the best hugs and wrote some of the sweetest notes. It would always brightened my shift when she would call me “dear heart.” Prayers to your family.

  19. Valerie J Laidlaw says:

    Her photos are amazing and beautiful! What joy she brought into everyone’s life! Cherish her memory!

  20. Sam Wai says:

    Tom and Ann, I only got to read Kirsten’s obit now. What an accomplished life despite many obstacles. I am glad that I had the chance to see the obit. I never knew Kirsten but have been aware of her and have been inspired. Hope you are at peace. Take care and be safe.

  21. Barbara and Will Ridenour says:

    We are so sorry for your loss, Karma, Dan, and family. I remember Kirsten from years ago at the Station Theatre. She was sweet, talented, funny, and so very smart. Kirsten was fortunate to have such loving families. May she rest in peace. With love, Barbara and Will Ridenour

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