Cover photo for Karen LaVerne Leonard Baker's Obituary
Karen LaVerne Leonard Baker Profile Photo

Karen LaVerne Leonard Baker

July 26, 1941 — March 14, 2024

Karen LaVerne Leonard Baker

Karen LaVerne Leonard Baker, 82, passed away at her longtime Sandy home on Thursday, March 14. Her death came just four months and two days after the passing of Joe, her husband of nearly 62 years, Now they're back together. Their whole always greatly exceeded the sum of their parts.

Karen was born July 26, 1941 to Edwin Guy and LaVerne Leonard. Her father died when she was four. When she was 12, LaVerne married Gilbert Benson, who became Karen's second dad. A Sandy-ite through and through, she attended Sandy Elementary and Mount Jordan Junior High - never missing a day of classes - and graduated with the Class of 1959 from Jordan High School, where she won typing contests and marched with the Charlonians.

She married a fellow Beetdigger, Joseph Orestes Baker (Class of 1957), on Nov. 22, 1961. They lived in New Orleans, where Joe obtained a PhD from Tulane University, before returning to Sandy to raise their family. Karen loved to travel. She visited countries throughout Europe with Joe when he was in charge of the Study Abroad Program at BYU. Here at home, she prided herself on stepping foot in every one of the 50 states, many of them more than once.

Karen was an avid reader, which allowed her to travel even when she was at home. You could tell her side of the bedroom by the stack of books - history books, crime novels, travel guides, the occasional Harlequin Romance - spilling over the nightstand. It was nothing for her to finish a book in a night. When she wasn't reading she was urging others to read. She worked as a librarian at the Sandy, Alta and Holiday libraries before becoming a fixture at the Whitmore Library in Cottonwood Heights as the head of circulation. She was there the day the library opened in 1974 and stayed until she retired 28 years later.

Above all else, she loved her family. She would do anything and everything she could to make sure they were taken care of. When her mother's health failed her toward the end, Karen insisted on bringing her into her home to care for her. Life came full circle when her children insisted on caring for their mother at home when she had her health challenges.

Karen is survived by her sons Randy and Matt and her daughter Paula Jo, by their spouses Tori, Jenny and Matthew Jeffers, by ten grandchildren: Hannah, Travis, Colby Spencer, Ethan, Jeremiah, Alex, Isaac, Elsie and Daxton, and nine great grandchildren: Lucas, Garrett, William, Ettalee, Sawyer, Thalia, Halt, Idalynne and Noah. She is also survived by her brother Lee Benson.

Funeral services will be held Friday, Mar. 22 at 11 a.m. in the LDS Pioneer Ward, 8680 S. 220 East, Sandy. A viewing will be held Thursday, March 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Goff Mortuary, 8090 South State, Midvale and from 10-10:45 a.m. the day of the service. Burial at Sandy City Cemetery, 700 East 9000 South, Sandy.

Service will be streamed starting at 11 a.m. on Friday, Mar. 22 at www.thepioneerward.com.

Karen Baker - Funeral Recording.mp3

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