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Downriver Obituaries



June 05 , 1962 - May 10 , 2020

Karen Riggs
Karen Riggs
1962 - 2020




Your kind thoughts and prayers are appreciated. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Karen’s name to


Karen Riggs was born June 5th, 1962 in Cincinnati Ohio, lived in Canton Michigan, and passed away on May 10th, 2020 at 6:34 PM of ALS at the age of 57. Karen was preceded in passing by her loving mother, Roxie Mae Singleton. Karen is survived by her loving husband of 40 years, Michael, dear children Michael Jr., Ian Franklin, Anthony Faris, and her caring sister, Saundra Jane Monroe. Karen is also survived by her four precious grandchildren, Skylar, Tristan, Ava, and Zoe. Her cremation took place at “The Witness Crematory” located inside of Michigan Memorial Funeral Home.

During her lifetime, Karen proudly served her country as the wife of a military member for more than 18 years. She nearly single-handedly, lovingly, and at times cleverly, cared for their three boys. Karen then began her own career and was fortunate enough to proudly work alongside the renowned bankruptcy attorney, Paul H. Steinberg. She continued working as a bankruptcy para-legal and ultimately retired from the United States Department of Justice, Office of the United States Trustee for the Eastern District of Michigan. Karen loved reading with her pet dog Sport snuggled up to her side and found great personal joy dining with family and friends and excelled at making travel plans and coordinating trips with them. Though, she particularly treasured returning home to her beloved puppy Sport.

Karen underwent an extended period of examining and treating various medical symptoms. This finally concluded on the March 31st, 2017 with a diagnosis. The final answer of Bulbar Onset of Sporadic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) sounds gentle compared with the impact of the condition itself.
ALS consists of ever-accumulating losses of physical functions, abilities, personal independence, and even privacy. The passing of time with ALS is measured by these losses more than anything else. However, the worst losses of all with ALS are those of hope and time.

Following her diagnosis, Karen left work as soon as possible to fully enjoy whatever time remained. Sadly, there were only precious few months remaining before the symptoms progressed and her lifestyle drastically changed. As a result of Karen’s outstanding fitness regimen, healthy lifestyle choices, and quality health care, she stayed with us for quite some time, much longer than expected. However, ALS does not allow survivors.

This news is a surprise to most of you because Karen, as you would expect, decided to manage her condition privately to avoid being a burden to anyone. Karen told very few people, and even delayed telling her closest family members, only telling them when it could no longer be avoided and after asking them to promise to keep the news to themselves. I would like to extend abundant gratitude to those of you who respected her humble request for privacy and allowed her the support and dignity she deserved since on so many occasions she generously provided her love, support, and abundant kindness to so many of us.

The loss of Karen is immeasurable and her absence is already felt by everyone around her. The goodness of her spirit, kindness of her heart, and gentleness of her actions will be forever missed. She leaves us with an endless spiritual inheritance and the responsibility for each of us to become better and to love each other more, each and every day.

Although there will not be a memorial or viewing, we do wish to celebrate her life with those who loved her. The intention is not to wail and mourn our personal loss, but to rejoice in Karen’s memory, her spirit, to share smiles and laughter while we help each other to realize the richness of her character. Please share your fondest stories of Karen. If you have any personal photos, or videos, you would like to include feel free to post them digitally here. Most importantly, Karen lost her ability to speak almost immediately as a symptom of her ALS and it would be specifically appreciated if anyone with a video including Karen’s voice would share the video


Mike -- I am so sorry for your loss. The passing of Karen and Paul represent the loss of the two most kind, gentle and decent human beings I have met in my life. I can't imagine meeting anyone more loyal in business, friendship and love of family and friends than the two of them. I know they are both looking down on all of us and, rather than feeling cheated out of a full life, they are probably feeling guilty that anyone is saddened by their loss. This also reaffirms my suspicion that only the best people pass away far too early, leaving the rest of us to try and figure out how to be more like them. I understand Karen's decision not to disclose her condition, but I hope she knew everyone here would have been lined up to do whatever we could and to provide whatever little support we had to offer. We all loved her very much and have been worried about her since she left the UST. The obituary is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen and fitting of the wonderful life Karen lead. She will very much be missed by everyone in our office. Please let us know if there is anything at all we can do. Mark Shapiro

Dearest Mike and Family, I am profoundly saddened to learn of Karen's passing. What an incredible and talented person she was, and how she loved you all so much! Karen was one of my all-time favorite people..always a smile and a kind word for all. We had much fun privately marveling (not maliciously!) at the silly things done by people all tied up in legal battles over money, and yet she maintained the highest standard of professionalism every single day. She was a font of knowledge about all things legal and practical. I recall many trips to her office to discuss the ups and downs of life. The ups made us laugh, and for the downs, she had thoughtful and helping words. She was first in class in her profession, and she devised so many things we continue to use and rely upon in our office. It was difficult to balance our respect for her privacy and our desire to somehow be of help when she left the office. So like her to do things in her quiet, effective way. Mike, I remember how much fun we had at a couple of different social events when I was going through a rough time. You were both wonderful to me and I'll always remember that. Karen always found a way to brighten my day, and that is how I will keep her in my heart. With much love and sympathy, Leslie Berg Leslie Berg

It is with great sadness that I received the news about Karen's passing today. As I read along the obituary, it brought back so many fond memories of Karen, who I often would think about, since her presence was sorely missed in the Detroit U.S. Trustee's Office. I worked with Karen for many years and we shared stories about our lives and she would also express how much love she had for her family. She would tell me so many memories of when she was a mother raising her children and she helped me as I was a first time mom. Karen talked about her husband and you could just feel that they built a wonderful marriage. She spoke well of you Mike and I kind of felt like I knew you just through all of the ways she would speak about you. Karen was respected because she was prompt, thorough and dedicated and she was beyond missed when she left the office a few years ago. It is true, we did not know why and I believe that that was Karen's way. Karen always considered others. That is what made her special. Just in closing, I would like to extend a heartfelt condolence to you Mike and your family. Unfortunately I was not able to say goodbye then however Karen stayed with me and she probably always will. Thank you for sharing your Karen with us. Delia Wells

My heart goes out to all of you. I work at the bankruptcy court, Karen and I use to speak daily, not just work but I felt we really connected. She was very kind and was a great asset to the US Trustee's office. She was always my go to person. When she left there was a great emptiness for me, I truly missed her. I am sure that these last years was a struggle for Karen and you as well. I hope that you can remember the good times spent with her and it will brighten up your day. Your wife/mother was a grand person. Sincerely Deb Ronayne Deb Ronayne