March 17, 1941 – March 6, 2013

With an infectious smile and stories to tell, Karen A. Andruschat cared for people in need no matter what her job was.

A registered nurse, she cared for the elderly in an East Aurora nursing home and later ran a People Inc. group home for disabled people on Grand Island. But she is more widely known for her leadership at the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care, where she retired as director of clinical marketing in 2005.

Ms. Andruschat, who lived in the Village of Wyoming in Wyoming County, died Wednesday in Mercy Hospital. She was 71.

She joined Hospice in 1991 as director of admissions, hired by J. Donald Schumacher, who is now president and chief executive officer of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in Alexandria, Va.

“I do a lot of public speaking [to Hospice administrators], and I tell them to hire admissions directors who have a personality where they could actually make friends with a stick. And that was Karen Andruschat,” Schumacher said.

“Karen had the kind of personality she could get along with just about anybody,” he said.

Ms. Andruschat would talk to groups as small as five and as large as 500 to educate doctors and the public about Hospice. She succeeded in talking to families without frightening them about a Hospice referral.

“She could have an encouraging conversation about the help they needed at a very important time,” Schumacher said. “She was very good at that. She was an incredibly good teacher and a strong advocate for patients and families.”

Born Karen A. Rabe in South Buffalo, she graduated from South Park High School and Mercy Hospital School of Nursing.

In retirement, she enjoyed reading, shopping and playing with her grandchildren.

She is survived by three daughters, Susan Neal, Amy Musante and Pamela Casey.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 520 Oakwood Ave., East Aurora.