Karen McLellan. Credit: Pam Dougherty

Karen McLellan, long a fixture in the rich community of 1960s activists, died calmly at her garden cottage in Berkeley on March 1, 2022.

More than anything, Karen treasured the love of her life and her eventual husband, Michael Rossman, their sons Lorca and Jaime and their families, and her chosen family of life-long Berkeley friends, fellow psychotherapists, and those who had shared her other vocations: mother, teacher, photographer, sometime gardener and quilter, and follower of all aspects of science. If you were one of Karen’s people, you basked in her warmth, marveled at her collections of colored glass and swag associated with psychotropic drugs, and shared countless wide-ranging and laughter-filled conversations. 

Karen spent much of her life trying to capture all of the beauty, sensations and feelings she experienced. She wrote her whole life: poems, stories and snatches of memoir. In mid-life she added photography, including still lifes, portraits, and travel-montage slideshows set to music. She was intensely curious, particularly about the sciences (for so long a connection to her beloved Michael), and always interested in something new. In the last year of her life Karen enjoyed as much time as possible with her granddaughters Sage and Charlie Bear, and mastered the Zen of just being – lying on her porch swing, listening to the neighborhood come alive and quiet down as the day moved through its course.

Karen Anne McLellan was born in Amarillo, Texas, on Jan. 15, 1942, to Robert and Mary Aileen (Mickley) McLellan, and grew up in both Sausalito and San Francisco, attending Miss Hamlin’s School and Lowell High, where she was the editor of the school newspaper. Karen studied journalism at the University of Missouri, received a degree in English from UC Berkeley in 1964, and taught high school briefly before training as a psychotherapist (MA; Lone Mountain College, 1977) and seeing patients at the Berkeley Therapy Institute until a few years before her death. 

Karen is survived by sons Lorca and Jaime Rossman, their wives Lola and Sarah, and grandchildren Sage Raven and Charlotte Ursula.