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August 22, 2012 | 09:54 AMKari Bowerman will be buried Saturday in Lake Geneva.
Kari and a traveling mate, Canadian Cathy Huynh, died under mysterious circumstances while on vacation in Vietnam.
Kari died July 30, Huynh on Aug. 2. Kari, 27, was a 2003 Badger High School grad. The two taught together in North Korea.
A full obituary and details of Kari's funeral are on 3D.
But an obituary can only scratch the surface of any life.
So in an email exchange with Kari's sister, Jennifer Jaques, we tried to round out the picture.
Question: What made her decide to teach in Korea?
Jennifer: "I'm not sure exactly how she heard about teaching abroad originally but it immediately attracted her because she saw it as her chance to see the world while she could."
Q: What was her most memorable trait?
Jennifer: "Her humor. She was hilarious and always made everyone around her laugh and enjoy themselves if they wanted to or not. She enjoyed meeting people and making new friends.
"Kari was adventurous and extremely brave. She enjoyed life and wanted to just have a good time whatever she was doing. She was always smiling and laughing, or entertaining everyone around her."
Q. How did you find out about her death?
Jennifer: "We found out on Monday night (July 30, the day Kari died). We received information from Cathy earlier in the day that Kari was extremely ill, but had trouble obtaining information as to the location of the city or hospital Kari was in. We received another call from Cathy earlier that evening, that she had called the hospital and learned that Kari had passed. We made contact with the embassy, which confirmed it.
"I texted back and forth with Kari on Thursday July 26. She mentioned that she was going to Vietnam for a week on vacation. I expressed my concern and worry. She said she would take a picture everyday, and tag me in it, so I knew she was alright. The last time she posted a pic was Saturday, the 28th. Friday, the night before she sent me a message with a copy of a letter, a father of one of her international students had written her. She was so proud and a copy of the letter."
According to a story in a Winona, Minn., paper, that note described how his daughter's life was better because of Kari, who was a Winona State University graduate.
"He wrote how his family would never forget her curly hair or infectious smile," the paper said.
As for the cause of her death and the results of an autopsy?
"All we have received is a letter from the US Consulate of Ho Chi Minh City notifying us of her death, and a paper from the hospital stating time of death and some other useless information."
According to news reports, Jennifer was concerned that Kari's cellphone was not among her belongings. She was quoted as saying that the phone might hold some clues.
"That's an exaggeration of what I really had said," Jennifer said. "I have always stated we wanted the phone back for sentimental reasons such as pictures and text messages."
Ashley Bowerman, another one of Kari's sisters, had broke her phone during what Jennifer called " this terrible time."
"It would mean the world to her if she could get those messages between the two back," Jennifer said.
Officials said that they did not find a cell phone among Kari's property left at the hospital where she died. Speculation was that she may have lost the cell phone at a military hospital where she had been treated previously.
An official in the police department where Kari died said that they have not seen any signs of criminal behavior.
However, a forensic expert said it's mysterious that they died two days apart though they had arrived in Nha Trang the same day and had the same symptoms before their deaths.
Kari's medical samples were reportedly sent to the National Institute of Forensic Medicine in Hanoi for analysis but results have not yet been released.
"There was a delay in the testing of Kari's samples due to a lack of funds on the Vietnamese governments part, which I do not understand completely," Jennifer said. "But as we have been waiting anxiously for the time to go by which was required to get the results back, they had in fact had not even started. Which also caused concern because testing of that type is time sensitive and is more difficult as time goes by.
"We just want answers as to what transpired from the time she got sick till she died, and of course what caused this awful occurrence," Jennifer said. "Two girls so full of life and ambition should have not died because of whatever the reason was."