Karen Irene Toedter was born October 4, 1942, to Irene (Gigstad) and Edward Toedter on the family farm near Easton, Kansas. She attended the one-room Number 6 School not far from home through the eighth grade and graduated from Easton High School in 1960.
After two years of full- time employment she enrolled in Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, where she joined Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority. Over summer vacations during college, she worked in the typing pool at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where she met Lt. Allen Lewis, U.S. Army. Allen was promoted to Captain the fall after they met. They were married on June 13, 1965, at St. John’s Lutheran Church near Easton, the same church at which she was baptized (11-1-1942) and confirmed (6-10-1956).
When Allen’s time in the army was through, they moved to live with his parents for a short time near Rockford, Washington, then to Worley, Idaho, where he began farming. Karen completed her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Washington State University in 1966 and began teaching the first and second grades in the Worley School District that fall. She loved working with the young children and was still fond of and in contact with many of her students for the remainder of her life.
When Allen and Karen started their family, Karen stepped back from full-time teaching to raise the children and help Allen on the farm. In 1981 they moved to Rockford, Washington, and maintained the farming operation in Washington and Idaho. For over 30 years Karen drove truck during harvest, made frequent “parts runs”, and even drove a tractor to disc fields. In addition to the duties of a farm wife, she served as a substitute teacher, was a long time Sunday School teacher, facilitated many funeral dinners via her congregation’s women’s ministry, and served on the council at Zion Lutheran Church in Fairfield, Washington.
Karen left her earthly home on June 1, 2022, at Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene. She was preceded in death by her parents, Edward and Irene Toedter, her in-laws Carl and Cloris Lewis, a nephew, Daniel Toedter, several aunts, uncles and dear friends. Karen is survived by her husband of 57 years, Allen, her son Sean, daughter Laura Lea (Shawn) O’Brien, and three grandchildren, Darby, Dylan and Derek O’Brien, of which she was extremely proud, brother Melvin Toedter (Shirley), of Leavenworth Kansas, sister Marilyn Harper (Larry) of Kansas City, MO., two nephews, Lance Harper (Karen), Steven Toedter, niece Tanya Harper, and sister in-law Ann Moore.