Karen Lynn Wright Hayes was born on June 13, 1955, in Xenia, Ohio, and died on July 9, 2014, at her home in Fairborn, Ohio.
Karen grew up in Fairborn, where she was a longtime member of the Fairborn (St. Luke) United Methodist Church community. She attended Fairborn Baker High School as part of the class of 1973 and excelled in music, drama, and academics. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in English and journalism at Miami University, graduating cum laude in 1976 and joining Phi Beta Kappa.
Karen married L. Stephen Hayes on March 20, 1976. For decades, Karen and Steve served United Methodist Church communities across west Ohio, including Amsden, Rehoboth, Findlay Bethlehem, Cedarville, Selma, West Elkton, North Hampton Asbury, New Madison, Arcanum Trinity, and Jamestown. Karen was a mentor to countless congregation members, teaching Sunday School classes, directing choirs, and serving as a lay minister. She brought light and warmth to the greater community through her roles as Girl Scout troop leader, Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination coach, high school writing tutor, and Upward Bound instructor.
Upon her graduation from college, Karen worked for several years as a reporter and associate editor for the Fostoria Review Times.
Following the birth of her three children, Karen returned to Miami University to earn her master’s degree in English, specializing in Composition and Rhetoric. Her academic career spanned more than twenty years, as she taught courses in language, literature, and English as a Second Language (ESL) at Clark State Community College, Wittenberg University, and Wright State University. She taught thousands of students during her career, always balancing her formidable intellectual skills with her inexhaustible sense of compassion. With creativity, empathy, and determination, she helped students from a variety of backgrounds to widen and deepen their worlds.
Karen was preceded in death by her brothers, Tommy and Gary Wright; and by her mother, Jeanne (Hines) Wright.
She is survived by her husband, Steve of Fairborn; father, Thomas Wright of Fairborn; sisters, Jan (Greg) Barger of Overland Park, KS; and Barbara (Arthur Riley) Wright of Indianapolis; daughter, Carrigan Jo of Westerville; son, Robert Thomas of Columbus; daughter, Katherine Jeanne of Oxford; and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and colleagues.
During her valiant battle, Karen often cited Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Calling hours will be Friday, July 11, 2014 from 4-7 p.m. at the Belton-Stroup Funeral Home, Fairborn, closing with a short service. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 19, 2014 at Asbury United Methodist Church in North Hampton, Ohio.
Friends are invited to make memorial contributions to the Fairborn Pre-School, Nothing but Nets, Heifer Project, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), or a charity of their choice.
Condolences may be made to the family at www.BeltonStroup.com.
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