Love that built a legacy

Karen and Kevin Padrick

In 2019, Kevin Padrick asked his wife, Karen, if she wanted to make an estate gift to the University of Colorado, her alma mater.

"Kevin was the idea person, and I was the worker bee. I implemented the vision," Karen said. ""That was just the type of person Kevin was—generous, thoughtful."

Kevin and Karen were paired together when they attended a football game with 19 of Kevin's fellow cadets from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and 19 women from Karen's sorority. From that moment, they were inseparable.

After they married in 1976, the couple moved to Santa Clara, California, where Karen worked for the Palo Alto Veterans Administration. Then they moved to Portland, Oregon, where she attended the Oregon Health and Science University School of Nursing and earned her master's and Ph.D. in nursing. After a few years in Silverton, Colorado, where Karen was the school and county nurse, the couple relocated to Sunriver, Oregon. Karen helped open a medical clinic and volunteered there, and Kevin founded numerous successful companies, which allowed them to give generously to their alma maters.

The couple had just completed their estate plans before Kevin's death in an airplane crash. This tragedy showed the couple's wisdom in planning ahead. Their generosity will one day establish the Karen Padrick Endowed Scholarship Fund to support undergraduate students in the College of Nursing at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Karen has long ties to CU. Her sister (pharmacy), mother (business), and brother and father (both engineering) all graduated from the University of Colorado. Her father, Julius Otsuki, was the facilities engineer at Fitzsimons Army Base, which eventually became the CU Anschutz Medical Campus where the College of Nursing—the only four-year undergraduate program on the campus—resides.

As a student, Karen received a Boettcher Scholarship that helped her family financially and allowed her to pursue a career in nursing. Karen said she chose to study nursing because she enjoyed making sure patients receive the best care possible—something she knows future generations of nurses are learning at CU Anschutz.

"It seems fitting to leave this legacy," she said. "In a way, it commemorates how our love story began: at a university."

Consider starting a conversation today with your loved ones about your legacy. For tips and more information, contact the Office of Gift Planning at 303-541-1229 or

The original version of this story published in November 2020. Read it here.