Karen K. Gilbert, a champion darts player who was also a dedicated line dancer and volksmarcher, died Saturday of lung cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The longtime Columbia resident was 66.
Karen Kay Wilson was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She attended the University of Iowa, where she met her husband, Kelly Gilbert, a retired reporter and editor for The Evening Sun and The Sun.
The couple married in Iowa City in 1960 and moved to New Carrollton in 1968, after Mr. Gilbert was discharged from the Navy. They lived in Cockeysville before moving to Columbia in 1976.
Mrs. Gilbert worked for many years as a title searcher in land records at the Howard County Courthouse, and as an elections clerk at the county Election Board.
An avid darts fan, in the early 1980s she and her husband were founding members, and later officers, of what now is the Howard County Dart Association, an English darts club. Throughout that decade, they competed in weekend tournaments along the East Coast from Baltimore to the Carolinas.
A tough competitor, Mrs. Gilbert upset then-top-ranked U.S. darter Kathy Karpovich in a match in Catonsville to win the 1986 Baltimore Classic women's 401 title. She also won the women's Cricket title at the 1988 Greensboro (N.C.) Spring Dart Classic.
With frequent partner Karen Halpin, another longtime dart association member, Mrs. Gilbert also won several doubles events, including the 1986 Maryland State 501 title and the 1988 Howard County Open 401 championship.
She was a longtime member of the Columbia Volksmarch Club and a frequent participant in noncompetitive walking events in Maryland and surrounding states. She also line-danced regularly at the Bain Center, the east Columbia library and Anne Arundel County recreation facilities in Odenton.
"Line dancing was the highlight of her week," said Mr. Gilbert, who recently retired as The Sun's night business editor. "She loved the camaraderie in her classes, the music and the interaction with friends."
According to her husband, Mrs. Gilbert could make her daily leisurely walks around one of Columbia's lakes pay off.
"One of Karen's best talents was finding money on the ground. She always came home with a coin or two and hauled in $80 or more a year, a penny or nickel or dime at a time," he said.
Plans for a celebration of Mrs. Gilbert's life were incomplete yesterday.
Also surviving are a son, Scott W. Gilbert of Woodstock, Ga.; a daughter, Laurie A. Gilbert of Champaign, Ill.; her mother, Erma L. Wilson of Cedar Rapids; two sisters, Deb Wilson of St. Paul, Minn., and Diann Wilson of San Diego; and three grandchildren.