In Memory of Karen Sinsheimer

Karen Sinsheimer at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, 1983. Photo by Don Fukuda

Karen Sinsheimer at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, 1983. Photo by Don Fukuda

It is with profound sadness that we have to inform you that our dear Karen Sinsheimer passed away earlier this week after a long illness. Karen was one of this Festival’s great leading ladies – literally. She served as the Festival’s founding Board President in 1982 and, when the Festival became independent in 2013, she joined the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Board, and most recently served as an Honorary Director. She was an ardent supporter, an energetic benefactor and a spirited presence, whose name, like the redwoods themselves, will grace the Glen and play on in our hearts forever. She was fond of saying “you can’t say thanks enough” and “thanks doesn’t begin to express my gratitude.” She continually marveled in what we’ve all done together; so let us take a moment to say “thanks, thanks and ever thanks,” to Karen. We would not be here without her.

Audrey Stanley
Founding Artistic Director, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and Honorary Director, Santa Cruz Shakespeare

Bill Richter
Founding Board President, Santa Cruz Shakespeare


Below is the message from Chancellor George Blumenthal to UCSC Faculty and Staff

Sad news about the loss of a dear friend

I am sad to share the news of the passing of Karen Sinsheimer, wife of UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Emeritus Robert Sinsheimer. Karen passed away peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones on Tuesday, July 28, after a brave fight against pancreatic cancer.

Karen was a vibrant woman who helped transform University House into a hub of social and intellectual engagement for the campus and the community. Shortly after her arrival on campus in 1981, Karen joined the Historical Society, the UCSC Women’s Club, and the Cultural Council.

But she will likely be best remembered for her passionate support of theater, her partnership with Theater Arts Professor Emerita Audrey Stanley, and her role as founding board president of Shakespeare Santa Cruz. To this day, the Stanley-Sinsheimer Glen bears her name as a lasting tribute to her advocacy.

Karen also advocated at the systemwide level for the recognition of the role and contributions of chancellor’s spouses, an effort that resulted in the establishment of the title “associate of the chancellor.”

After the Sinsheimers left UC Santa Cruz in 1987, they moved to Santa Barbara, where Karen served as the curator of photography at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. As she always did, Karen brought her talent and energy to the endeavor and expanded the collection in significant and vital ways.

My wife Kelly and I have had the pleasure of getting to know Karen and Bob over the years since I became chancellor, often attending summer performances in the glen together. Just a few months ago, we had the pleasure of celebrating Bob’s 95th birthday together.

A memorial service will take place in Santa Barbara at a later date; the family asks that any contributions in Karen’s memory be directed to Special Collections in McHenry Library, or to Santa Cruz Shakespeare.

I hope you’ll join me in taking a moment to reflect on the contributions of this visionary and vivacious woman. Kelly and I extend our condolences to Bob, the family, and the many people on and off campus who had the good fortune to call Karen a friend.