Kara Pavelich grew up in Tofte, Minn., learning classical piano from her mother, Beverly Burmachuk. At 22, she won a contest in Thunder Bay, Ontario, playing Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude," which provided a chance to play with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.
In recent years, Pavelich became known along Lake Superior's North Shore for her painting on canvas, T-shirts and rocks.
On Sept. 6, Pavelich fell 20 feet from a second-story balcony that has no railing at her home in Lutsen, Minn. The wife of former University of Minnesota Duluth and NHL hockey star Mark Pavelich was 44.
"One of Kara's best pieces of art was the home she lives in," said her father, Brian Burmachuk of Duluth. "She collected the stones and put them in place on the exterior, which was really a difficult, detailed job. I call it a beautiful castle in the woods. She had so much talent in so many areas and was the up-and-coming artist in Cook County."
Kara married Mark Pavelich of Eveleth, Minn., in 1994, two years after he completed his NHL career. He was a 1979 Division I All-American at UMD as a center and a catalyst on the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold-medal team, then recorded 329 points in 355 games in the NHL during 1981 and 1992, nearly all with the New York Rangers.
Mark Pavelich, 54, has been a land developer in the Lutsen area the past 20 years.
The Burmachuks lived in Tofte from 1972 to 1997 and had two pianos and an organ in their home. Kara often performed on the piano as a youngster, her father said. Her artwork has been seen in fairs and galleries in Duluth, Two Harbors and Grand Rapids, and at the Cook County Farm and Craft Market in Grand Marais.
In an artist profile written in 2009, Kara Pavelich said of herself:
"I am an artist who grew up on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Here there is no shortage of inspiration, the surroundings are beautiful and we have lots of fish and wildlife. Sometimes I like to just paint local landscapes on location or just sketch in the field and bring them home to be finished."
Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk said Saturday that deputies were called to the Pavelich home at 11:32 a.m. Thursday. It is likely that Kara Pavelich was on the balcony seeking better cellphone reception; a cellphone was found beside her, he said. Her death is considered accidental.
In addition to her husband and father, Pavelich is survived by a sister, Dana Burmachuk of Duluth, and a stepdaughter, Tarja, also of Duluth. The family plans private services.