North Shore artist, wife of former NHL star, dies in fall from balconyKara Pavelich of Lutsen, who was well-known along the North Shore for her artwork, was the wife of former UMD and NHL hockey star and Olympian Mark Pavelich.
Kara Pavelich grew up in Tofte, learning classical piano from her mother, Beverly Burmachuk. At age 22 she won a contest in Thunder Bay, Ontario, playing Frederic Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude, which provided a chance to play with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.
In recent years, Pavelich developed a stylized acrylic painting career which made her well-known along the North Shore with her artwork on canvas and T-shirts and rocks.
An accidental misstep at home Thursday morning in Lutsen took Pavelich’s life as she fell approximately 20 feet from a second-story balcony that has no railing. The wife of former Minnesota Duluth and NHL hockey star Mark Pavelich was 44.
“One of Kara’s best pieces of art was the home she lives in,” her father, Brian Burmachuk of Duluth, said Saturday. “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 in 1994, two years after he completed his NHL career. He was a 1979 Division I All-American at UMD as a center, was a catalyst on the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold-medal team, then recorded 329 points in 355 games in the NHL over seven seasons between 1981 and 1992, nearly all with the New York Rangers.
The Paveliches have no children, although Mark has a daughter, Tarja, 25, of Duluth from a previous marriage.
Mark Pavelich, 54, has been a land developer in the Lutsen area the past 20 years. He and Kara had artistically put together their home on Deer Yard Lake since 1995. While Kara did the stonework, Mark hand-crafted most of the home’s furniture.
“Mark and Kara were like pioneers out there and really have accomplished so much,” said Brian Burmachuk, at one time a missionary evangelist.
The Burmachuks lived in Tofte from 1972 to 1997 and had two pianos and an organ in their home. Kara performed often 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.
“A lot of my time in the evenings is used for just creating something from a wealth of outdoor experiences stored up in my mind. My family is super important to me so I enjoy working right at home or on our boat out on Lake Superior.”
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 cell phone reception; a cell phone was found beside her. The death is being considered accidental.
Kara is survived by her husband; father, Brian Burmachuk, and sister, Dana Burmachuk, both of Duluth.
Two separate services are set for Saturday at the former Burmachuk home in Tofte on County Road 24 across from Tofte Park —a private ceremony at 11 a.m. will be followed by a public reception at 2 p.m.