Karly Elizabeth Wahlin

Karly Elizabeth Wahlin was born on July 4, 1985, in St. Paul. Surrounded by her family and in her mother’s arms, Karly passed away at the age of 27 on Aug. 20, 2012, in her Stillwater home.

Karly was a loving presence in so many lives, accomplishing amazing things as a young woman living with Rett Syndrome, a neurological disorder. Through the long and often difficult journey of her life, she and her mother, Lois Swope, were driven by the challenge of finding Karly’s voice. Starting at age 10, Karly learned to communicate by typing on a keyboard and we discovered that this young girl, who was so physically challenged, was acutely aware of her surroundings and had a sharp, active mind.

In 2010 Karly released a CD of piano compositions, “In My Own Voice,” that she had patiently crafted over 12 years with the assistance of her music therapist. Although she never had an audible voice, Karly was an inspirational speaker to a variety of groups, maintained a blog that was read worldwide and had several publications to her name.

Karly Elizabeth Wahlin and Beau

Karly’s love of horses led to her participation in therapeutic horseback riding programs and getting her own companion miniature horse she named Beau.

Karly is survived by her mother and stepfather, Lois and Gregg Swope of Stillwater; her father and stepmother, Cleon and Cheryl Wahlin and their children, Olivia and Zackary, of Golden Valley; her loving sister, Leah Joy Wahlin of Columbus, Ohio; her step-siblings, Sara Hayden, Jed Swope and Daniel Swope, her grandparents and her many aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends.

She loved us so well and we couldn’t love her more.

Karly’s memorial service is 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, at Rockpoint Church, 5825 Kelvin Ave. North in Lake Elmo.

In lieu of flowers, Karly’s family requests that gifts be made to further develop and maintenance of Karly’s Spiritdances Memorial Garden at her parents’ Stillwater home. Karly’s dream was that her garden would be a place of peace and healing for everyone who visits it.


Bradshaw, 2800 Curve Crest Boulevard, Stillwater, 651-439-5511