FROM THE CREW: Celebrating Home Power Cofounder Karen Perez

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Karen Perez
Karen Perez will be dearly missed.
Karen Perez

With great emotion, from the deepest sadness to the most heartfelt appreciation, the Home Power crew shares the passing of our dear friend, coworker, and cofounder Karen Perez. Karen was diagnosed with cancer in fall 2013. With her husband Richard at her side, as well as family and friends, she passed away on November 7, 2014, among the swirling of sweet stories, thoughts, laughter, and quiet reflection.

Karen’s journey started in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, in 1949. In her late teens, she headed west to be part of the cultural awakening that was San Francisco in 1968. In The Haight, a center of that turmoil and celebration, she met her future husband, Richard Perez. In 1970, Karen headed north—this time with Richard and a group of friends—to homestead a piece of property in a remote corner of southwestern Oregon called Agate Flat.

The early days on the Flat were hardscrabble. Shelter was built with hand tools. Food was packed in on horseback. Lighting was rigged from salvaged automotive lights and batteries—and eventually from the 48-watt PV module that sparked the vision that would grow into Home Power. With the help of friends, old and new, the magazine’s early community of readers, and the first Macintosh computer, Karen and Richard founded Home Power, “The Hands-On Journal of Home-Made Power,” in 1987.

For close to 30 years, Karen worked both on the front lines and behind the scenes at Home Power—walking step by step with Richard down the long path of creating a clean energy future and a healthier environment. In that time, she saw solar energy grow from a niche technology that helped off-grid folks live more sustainably beyond the reach of the power lines to one of the fastest-growing sources of energy on the planet.  

Karen loved a lot with steadfast dedication and affection, and her courage and compassion extended to caring for all creatures furry, fluffy, or feathered. Be it a dog, cat, bird, horse, mule, or even the potbellied pig that showed up one day and set up shop under the cabin (Tilly, as she came to be called, was pregnant, of course), Karen was a champion of all critters, great and small.

If you’re so inspired and would like to make a charitable contribution in Karen’s name to keep her vision moving forward, we suggest the Solar Electric Light Fund (self.org) and the ASPCA (aspca.org). The Solar Electric Light Fund’s mission is to design and implement solar energy solutions to assist the 1.5 billion people living in energy poverty. The ASPCA operates in various program areas, including anticruelty, animal health services, and community outreach. 

 Fare you well, KP. We love you.

—The Home Power crew

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