Dr. Robert  Karnei, Jr.

Obituary of Dr. Robert Frederick Karnei, Jr.

Dr. Robert Frederick. Karnei, Jr., 90, of Wytheville, VA died February 29, 2024, surrounded by his family; after an extremely well lived life full of service, home improvement projects, spirited games of bridge or golf, and teaching his children many detailed pathology lessons over dinner. Dr. Karnei had many titles in his 90 years, but the most important were husband and father. He believed in leading by example and instilled a deep sense of loyalty, hard work, humor, and philanthropy in his family. A legacy that will continue through future generations. Originally a born native of San Antonio Texas, Dr. Karnei’s childhood was mostly spent in Houston, Texas. The grandson of sharecroppers who only spoke German until he started grade school, his voracious work ethic, German stubbornness, and natural intelligence, allowed him to truly live out the ethos of the American Dream. Dr. Karnei completed his undergraduate degree at Rice Institute in 1956 and graduated with a Doctor of Medical Sciences Degree in 1960 from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas. Upon finishing at University of Texas, Dr. Karnei completed his Pathology Residency at Naval Hospital Bethesda, where he met the love of his life, Lieutenant JG, Karen Zimmermann, whom he married on December 19, 1964. Together they had many adventures but exotic duty stations were not among them. After they married and had their first child, they moved from Bethesda and were stationed at Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida for 4 years. Three children later, they returned to the Washington, DC area, where they had their 5th child in 6 years and Dr. Karnei completed a Fellowship in Breast and Gynecologic Pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in Washington, DC. They remained stationed in the DC area where Dr. Karnei finished out a distinguished 32 year career in the Navy as the Director of the AFIP. After his first retirement in 1992, he and Karen moved to Wytheville, VA to begin his next adventure as the Medical Director of the Laboratory at Wythe County Community Hospital. Here he utilized his skills as a Clinical Pathologist and improved the lab tech program at Wytheville Community College. This move brought him full circle as he put to use the drywalling talents he learned from his father to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. One of the greatest joys of Dr. Karnei’s Wytheville experience was having time to serve on multiple boards and committees, lending a helping hand to all who asked, and traveling the world with friends and family. Dr. Karnei is survived by his wife, Karen Zimmermann Karnei; and their children: Robert Frederick Karnei, III (Darcy) of Kent Island, Maryland; Kimberly Karnei Johnson (Craig) of Charlottesville, VA; Christopher Lee Karnei of Wytheville, VA; Susan Elizabeth Caporaletti (Marty) of Montross, Virginia; and Kathleen Karnei Hammett (Michael) of Hollywood, MD. He is also survived by his nine grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He was predeceased by his parents, Robert F. Karnei, Sr. and Hattie Albert Karnei, as well as his siblings Gilbert Karnei, Lee Karnei (Vinola) and Maureen Hester (Jimmy). A funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 pm at St. Paul UMC in Wytheville, VA, Pastor Larry Ousley officiating. Visitation will be immediately following the service in Wesley Hall with refreshments provided. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to: Friends of the Wythe County Library 300 East Monroe Street Wytheville, VA 24382 Donate via PayPal or St. Paul UMC Pre-School 330 Church Street Wytheville, VA 24382. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family at www.grubbfuneralhome.com Grubb Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.