Karin  Pfisterer

Obituary of Karin Marie Pfisterer

Karin Marie (née Floyd) Pfisterer passed from this world peacefully on July 9, 2023 of natural causes.

Karin was born in Dover, NH on September 16, 1935, the last of three daughters (Cynthia, Shirley), to John and Aune (née Sundelin) Floyd.  John was a professor of French at the University of New Hampshire; they lived in the college town of Durham, NH from 1935 until 1942. In 1942 her father received a scholarship to learn to teach Spanish at a university in Bogotá, Colombia. Her father and mother went there ahead of their children and arranged for them to travel there to meet them a year later.And so it was that the three sisters, ages 8, 11, and 12 traveled in 1943, unaccompanied by an adult, from South Paris, Maine to Colombia. The trip took three days with an overnight in Miami, FL, where the girls were locked alone in a hotel room for the night, and Baranquilla, Colombia where they were hosted by the US Consulate.  A small Colombian plane took them the final stretch to the Bogotá airport in the mountains at 8600’ elevation. Karin attended a Spanish school in Bogotá where she learned to speak Spanish fluently.

She returned to the US in 1945 where she attended 6th grade in South Paris, Maine while living with her aunt.  Her mother and father returned in 1947 as John was teaching at Boston University and they lived on Cape Cod. Her father started working for the US Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs in 1948 which resulted in a move to Havana, Cuba. Karin has many fond memories of her three years in Havana, especially the parties at the country club the family belonged to. Karin returned to the US for her sophomore year in high school when her father was assigned to the headquarters of the US Information Agency in Washington, DC.  She attended Western High School and graduated in 1953. She attended George Washington University in Washington, DC from 1953 to 1957 when she graduated with a degree in Sociology. Summers were spent waitressing at Hill’s Restaurant on Cape Cod where she again accumulated many fond memories. She and her older sister Shirley shared a room and worked together at the restaurant. If you knew Shirley you could only imagine what kind of antics the two got up to.

In 1957 Karin moved to San José, Costa Rica where her father was working as the Director of the Centro Cultural which was part of the US Information Agency. It was in San José that Karin met the love of her life, Mario Pfisterer whose father was in Costa Rica designing the children’s hospital (he was an architect). Karin wanted to travel and had lined up a job at an enlisted men’s club in Korea, but Mario enticed her back to Washington, DC where he was pursuing his Master’s degree in education at the University of Maryland. They were married on June 20, 1959 in Washington, DC and remained married for 48 years until Mario’s death. Upon returning from their honeymoon their first piece of mail as a married couple was Mario’s draft notice.  They moved to Atlanta, Georgia and then back to the DC area a few years later.Their first child, a son, Marc, was born in 1961 in Maryland.Mario joined the US Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS) system which would become his career for 30 years.  This provided Karin and Mario the chance to travel and live abroad and raise a family. This experience defined a large part of her life.Their first assignment was the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The family was evacuated to the US during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962. The young couple’s 2nd son, Adrian, was born in 1963 in Cuba.  

 In 1965 the family moved to a small US military base in Évreux, France where Mario was charged with closing the base school down due to France leaving NATO.After closing the school down, the family moved to Butzbach, Germany in 1966 for one year.Then Mario’s job took the family to Upper Heyford, England from 1966 - 1968, and to Catania, Sicily in 1969 where Mario was the elementary school principal on the US Naval Base there. Karin made a home for the family in quite rough conditions in a primitive house near the base that had a view of the Mt. Etna volcano from the back patio. Throughout the family’s travels Karin had a knack for making wonderful homes in interesting and sometimes challenging places.1970 brought the young family to Ansbach and Nurnberg, Germany until 1975.

In 1975 Karin and her family moved to Madrid, Spain where Mario was stationed at Torrejón Air Force Base. Three months after their arrival the dictator Francisco Franco died which resulted in uncertain times for US military personnel living there. Karin has memories of Spanish military men with machine guns patrolling large areas near their house. In 1977 Mario was assigned to be the principal at an elementary school in Suffolk, England where Karin and Mario would spend the next 10 years getting their boys through high school and off to college. Karin was involved in helping renovate an old Rectory where they lived, parts of which dated back to the 14th century. She volunteered on the Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon boat excavation (subject of the movie The Dig) and they attended world class classical music concerts at the Aldeburgh Festival of Music three miles from their rural house often walking through the English countryside  to the performances.

In 1987 after their sons had moved out Karin and Mario moved back to Madrid, Spain and then on to Athens, Greece where they had a house on the Greek coast.  Again, Karin succeeded in making a comfortable home in somewhat primitive conditions. Throughout their time overseas Karin loved to entertain in her home. There were frequent parties for the teachers including infamous pig roasts at The Old Rectory in England. She also loved to host visiting guests who frequently used their home as a ‘base’ from which to further explore Europe.

Upon Mario’s retirement in 1993 after 30 years of service to the Department of Defense Karin and Mario moved to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and then to New Smyrna Beach, Florida where they enjoyed some of their retirement years in a condo on the beach. Over the course of 30 years Karin managed the moving and resettling of the entire household 12 times, no small feat. She was a kind and patient mother who believed in letting her kids take risks and figure things out on their own.

In 1997 they moved to Boise, Idaho to follow their sons whose paths had taken them west. There Karin enjoyed the hot summers and wintered in Florida while they continued traveling, this time for pleasure, not work. Karin became a grandmother in September of 2001 and again in 2003. Subsequent years were quiet ones and Karin enjoyed her time with the grandchildren. Karin was widowed in 2007 when Mario died bringing to an end 48 years of marriage. She continued to live on her own, and then, as the years got the better of her, moved to The Terraces in Boise, an independent and assisted living facility, where she lived the rest of her life. One cannot ask for a better way to transition out of this life. She was never in pain and went quietly in her sleep. She was well cared for. Many thanks go to the staff at The Terraces for their kind and patient care.

Karin is survived by her two sons, Adrian and Marc, both of Boise; her two older sisters, Cynthia Immonen of South Paris, Maine, and Shirley Murray of Ayr, Scotland; grandsons Peter Pfisterer and Calvin Pfisterer of Boise, Idaho; nieces Pam (Murray) Logan of Arran, Scotland, and Karin Murray of London, UK; nephew John Murray of Ayr, Scotland.

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