- Marie Lyons Killilea was born June 28, 1913 in New York City to Tom and Marie
- Her father was a sportswriter for the New York Sun and later became co-owner
of a Wall Street brokerage firm.
- Attended Mount St. Vincent Academy in Riverdale. Attended the Katherine Gibbs
- Married James Killilea on July 25, 1933. Primary residence was Larchmont, NY.
- She was an active lobbyist in Albany for the rights of cerebral palsy patients.
Her work culminated in the formation of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Westchester County. Later, she was a
co-founder of the National United Cerebral Palsy Foundation.
- She wrote a novel, "Karen," which became a best seller in 1952 and
has never been out of print. A sequel, "With Love From Karen," was published in 1963 and it is still
in print. She wrote other books as well.
- "Karen" won a Christopher Award and was one of the 30 Notable Books
of 1953. Her books, totaling 4 million copies, have been published in 11 languages. Mrs. Killilea received letters
from all over the world, and she once estimated she answered 15,000 or more.
- She died on October 23, 1991 at the age of 78 of respiratory ailments.At the
time of her death she was survived by her husband, Jimmy (who died a few years later at the age of 80) and four
children: Marie Irish, Karen Killilea, Kristin Viltz, and Rory Killilea.