Cover photo for Karl Van Etten's Obituary
Karl Van Etten Profile Photo

Karl Van Etten

January 31, 1939 — March 20, 2024

Karl Van Etten

Karl was born in Honolulu 1/31/1939 and spent much of his childhood years in idyllic Lanikai. After graduation from Roosevelt High School in Honolulu Karl attended Stanford University. He  abruptly joined the Marines after his sophomore year and was Honorably discharged after three years of service. At the University of Hawaii at Manoa he completed his undergraduate degree with a psychology major. Karl was a competitive runner setting records in hurdling, and also appeared in theatre productions at UH. Prior to graduate school he explored Scandinavia and spent some time in Copenhagen and in Oslo, where he auditioned for a theatre production at Oslo University, and met his future wife Anne. He is likely the only man born in Hawaii who has performed on the stage of “Det Norske Teater!” Karl earned a Teaching Certificate  at the University of Minnesota and married Anne in Minneapolis in 1967. He returned to Hawaii and taught social studies and served as Athletic Director and assistant Head Master at Mid Pacific Institute in Honolulu. In 1973 Karl and Anne with their toddler son Lars left Hawaii for two challenging years of graduate school in Boston, where Karl earned an MBA at Northeastern University, and Anne an MM at New England Conservatory. Karl was hired by the Colorado based company I.H.S. Based in Frankfurt, Germany, he travelled the world  as I.H.S.’s international marketing manager until he was called back to Colorado.


Karl was a teacher at heart and returned to teaching in 1986 at the Community College of Aurora, where he taught business courses and served as Dean of Instruction. During his CCA years he earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Northern Colorado.

Karl cared deeply about his Aurora community and participated in the Citizens’ Advisory Budget Committee of the City of Aurora, that earned him an “Amazing Auroran” honor. In 2000 Aurora Mayor Paul Tauer appointed Karl to serve on the Lowry Economic Redevelopment Board of Directors, where he remained until his retirement from CCA in 2006. Karl was a dedicated member of Rotary and a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. He coached young soccer players and volunteered teaching fourth graders. Karl had diverse interests; classical music, opera and theatre, sports, history and politics. He and Anne were avid mountain hikers and together they climbed Colorado fourteeners. Late in life Karl took up running again and ran in three “Bolder Boulder” races and in many charity races for “Hope House” and “Jodi’s Race”, placing third in the 70 + age group at age 77.

Karl lived by his island cultural heritage of modesty, kindness and tolerance. He loved his family and began but never completed writing a family history. His unusual life was notable for his integrity, compassion and loyalty; truly a life well lived.  


To send flowers to the family in memory of Karl Van Etten, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

The Heartlight Center is located within the Horan & McConaty Funeral Home location off Parker Road and Dartmouth. It is a house-looking structure situated across the parking lot from the mortuary building and cremation gardens.

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