A memorial service and celebration of the life of Dr. Karen J. Hatcher of Grove will take place 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, at Grace Presbyterian Church, Grove.

The celebration of her life will be led by Dr. Gordon Hatcher, Karen’s husband and pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church.

Music of all types will be the keynote of the celebration. Jana Jae, a friend and favorite player of great music, will be featured on the violin.

Mo Pitney, a rising country western singer who sang and wrote music for the tribute to Merle Haggard, will celebrate the life of his great aunt along with his brother and sister Blake and Holly Pitney.

Margret Harden, a university voice teacher and singer in professional groups in Chicago will sing of the New Jerusalem. Robin Dushane, Grove Presbyterian Church organist, will sing Near to the Heart of God which was written by Karen's aunt.

The Bluejacket Baptist Bluegrass Band will play bluegrass and gospel hymns as well as lead the congregation in I’ll Fly Away. Joe and Phil Stapp will honor their mother with their music and words.

Dr. Molly Marshall, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Shawnee, Kansas, will call celebrants to join in remembering Karen and speaks words of celebration.

Kay Gray, Grace Presbyterian elder and friend of Karen, will welcome all to Grace and invite them to join Gordon and family in Fellowship Hall immediately following this time of celebration and worship.

Dr. Richard Dayringer, professor emeritus of medical humanities and family medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, will offer a welcome and share remembrances of Karen.

These friends of Karen who will read scripture or lead in prayer include: Dr. Paul Batson of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Dr. Blair Olson retired professor of counselor education at Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; Dr. Larry Barlow, executive secretary of Florida Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; and Dr. Greg Coulter, general presbyter for Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery.

Karen was born June 18, 1936, in Springfield, Missouri to Gladys Morgan Willoughby and “Toots” Willoughby.

She is the mother of Joseph and Phillip Stapp and the late Timothy Stapp, and the grandmother of Chloe, Lukus, Cassie and Seth Stapp and Jessie Zills and great-grandmother of six.

She is a graduate of Central High School, Springfield, Missouri. She has an associate's degree from Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, Missouri, a bachelor's in education degree from Missouri Southern State University, Joplin, Missouri, a master's in education from Missouri State University in Springfield, an education specialist degree from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas, and a doctorate in education from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

She taught for 19 years in the Joplin Missouri School district where she was instrumental in establishing the gifted program. She also taught in the Springdale, Arkansas school district.

As a graduate assistant she taught in the education department at the University of Arkansas. After earning her doctorate in education, she taught at Southwest Baptist University, and was the chairman of the Behavioral Science Department at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis, Missouri. 

She was an adjunct professor of teacher education at Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, before moving to Orlando, Florida where she taught at Rollins College, Barry University and the University of Central Florida from which she retired.

She also directed the after school program of First Presbyterian Church, Orlando, Florida.

Karen taught many of the Disney characters at Disney World. She was also a professional model at Disney World. Her students often referred to her as “The Beautiful Teacher Who Encouraged Her Students to Monitor and Adjust.”