March 10, 2020
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
March 10, 2020
- 6:30 PM
March 11, 2020
- 10:00 AM
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