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Shelter Island obituary: Karen H. Mullins

Karen H. Mullins
Karen H. Mullins

Karen Helene Mullins, who took up parrot rescue in retirement and brought her beloved birds to Island events to educate others about their special needs, died at age 71 in her Hay Beach home on May 5, 2017.

She was interred at St. Mary’s on May 23.

She was born May 6, 1945 in the Bronx to Dorothy and Henry Senft, and was raised in Massapequa.

After two years at Kentucky Wesleyan College, she returned to Massapequa where she met Ed Mullins, another Massapequa High graduate who had recently completed his college studies. They were married on August 27, 1966.

The couple lived in Massapequa and Mrs. Mullins worked as an office manager and bookkeeper while her husband served for 32 years as a federal agent with the United States Postal Service working in and around New York City.

They first came to Shelter Island when her sister, Jeanne Fenkl, purchased the Shelter Island Inn, Mr. Mullins recalled. The Mullinses purchased property on Country Club Drive 17 years ago and built a house there based on her own design, he said.

“She took her plans to an architect and said ‘spec it so it doesn’t fall over,’” he told the Reporter in a phone call Tuesday.

After they retired, the Mullinses moved full-time to the Island with three pet birds.

Over time, they became involved with the non-profit Parrot Rescue, Inc. of Suffolk County. A profile in the Reporter in July of 2003 traced their journey from interested owners to expert rescuers.

By then, they were a familiar sight at events like the Shelter Island Historical Society’s annual harvest festival and the Hamptons Classic horse show, where they sought to raise awareness of the challenges particular to raising intelligent animals that might live 100 years or more.

In addition to their own birds, they fostered dozens of parrots, while finding new homes for them. Mr. Mullins said that he and his wife retired from parrot rescue about six years ago.

In addition to her husband and sister, Mrs. Mullins is survived by her son, Lawrence, and adored nieces and nephews, and four beloved parrots: Krishna, age 49, Zazu, 34, Coco, 19 and Kenny, 12, as well as three cats.

“Those that knew her hold wonderful memories of her,” Mr. Mullins said. “She will be missed.”