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Yesterday afternoon, Karen Godfrey, president of KNEA departed us in her long battle with cancer.

Today, the KNEA family extends its deepest sympathy to Rich Godfrey and to the family of KNEA President, Karen Godfrey upon her passing at home earlier this afternoon. Those of us who were blessed to work alongside Karen, came to know her as the most dedicated advocate for the education and well-being of children in Kansas. Even more, Karen was a trusted and dear friend to so many whose lives she touched. Karen’s courage was never more evident than what she demonstrated to her friends and colleagues as she battled cancer throughout the course of the last year.

Individually we grieve her loss and collectively we mourn our loss as the education community has so richly benefited from Karen’s work and effort. Trust, confidence, resolve, dedication, and a warm-hearted approach to all who knew Karen illustrate the kind of colleague and friend she was. We are comforted that Karen’s pain is gone and her legacy will forever live within the classrooms and the students she so dearly cared for.

Today, we reflect on what Karen has gifted us, remember her spirit and courage, give prayers to her family, and take solace in her release from pain and illness. Tomorrow, we will honor Karen best by standing strong and united for Kansas public schools. Our efforts will continue and her spirit will guide us as we try to fulfill the promise that she dedicated her professional life to.

Mark Farr,
Kansas NEA Vice President

Karen was a fighter for her cause until the end, and I want to take a few moments to celebrate her life and her spirit.

This spring, KNEA and AFT as well as teachers and parents from around the state came together to celebrate the anniversary of Brown Vs. Board of Education.   It was my pleasure and my honor to get a chance to know Karen through that experience.   While we had spoken before a few times over the years it was that event that allowed me to speak with Karen and to appreciate the battle she was going through.

Here, Karen sits next to me at the panel discussing the issues facing Kansas.  She speaks on the morality of education at about the 5 minute mark.

Karen Godfrey knew that she was in the battle for her life, and she knew that her illness would likely take her.   But she made an effort to be there for teachers and children around our state.   Karen spoke passionately, fervently in defense of doing the right thing for the students who needed someone to believe in them.

I wish in so many ways I had known Karen better than I did - a few conversations here and there doesn't put me in the list of those who will truly grieve today.   As a parent, though, I grieve because I know the power of her work.  As a citizen, I mourn because I recognize that I didn't have enough time to know someone who made a real impact on our state.  As a human being, I am joyous that someone did something so fantastic with their life that when people speak of them they will talk of the way in which she shaped the world we live in.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
You will be missed, Karen.   You gave your all and your everything for your teachers and students.  You fought until the very end.  I hope we can all pull strength for the continued fight from your unbelievable dedication to do the right thing for our state.

Originally posted to Kansas & Missouri Kossacks on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 05:37 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge.

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