Karen Ann Westerman Saunders of Cedar Park, Texas claimed the promise of her Baptism on October 26, 2021. She was born at Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York on June 22, 1968 to Jack and Judy Westerman and baptized at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Poughkeepsie on October 13, 1968. During her first 17 years, she would move with her family from New York to Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Florida and eventually to Austin, Texas. While living in Florida she was confirmed at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Longwood. She reinforced her faith through Bible studies and devotions.
Karen had a fondness for the ocean and the beach, an attraction to water that began as an excellent competitive swimmer and continuing with boating on the Chesapeake Bay and spending hours on the Florida beaches. With fond memories of Florida, she moved with her family to Austin in 1984 and graduated from Westwood High School in Austin as a member of the National Honor Society. She started her attraction to sports as a ballgirl for the championship Westwood baseball teams of that era.
Then, it was on to The University of Texas at Austin and a BSN degree in Nursing and a lifelong loyalty to the Longhorns. Karen was married to Michael Saunders from 1993 to 1997. She began her professional career as a nurse in Dallas and then Oklahoma. Her outgoing nature and drive led her to move from nursing into a very successful career in pharmaceutical sales, earning many awards, President club recognition and incentive trips with the likes of Pfizer/Warner Lambert, Allergan, Biogen and more. She was well respected for her knowledge and relationship building.
Her career change also led her to the Dallas area that she ultimately called home. In Dallas Karen developed a large circle of friends with her warm heart, fun loving personality and enthusiasm for sports. She became an avid Dallas Stars hockey fan and followed them all the way to the Stanley Cup Championship game in Buffalo, New York in 1999. Taking a lead from her dad, she also became a dedicated Washington Redskins fan (willing to take the heat from her Cowboy friends) and went with him to a Monday Night Football game in Washington, D.C. against, of all teams, the Dallas Cowboys.. The Texas Rangers became her favorite, too. Remaining true to her Longhorns, she attended the 2005 National Championship Game in the Rose Bowl. One of her memorable events was having a picture taken sitting next to Coach Mack Brown wearing his National Championship ring that he had given her to wear for the photo.
Karen also reached out to others and volunteered and supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Byron Nelson Golf Tournament. Karen truly loved her family and they loved her, too. She enjoyed celebrating events and going on trips with them. Her nieces and nephews were near and dear to her. She became a “second mom” in helping raise her niece, Crystal, after the passing of her sister, Wendy. She shared a portion of her nursing school together with her mom and was her dad’s “sports buddy”. She enjoyed the fun of cruising and many activities with her sister, Sheri, and hosting brother-in-law, Steig, and his friends for UT-OU weekend in Dallas.
She had her own family, too, with dogs by the names of Chelsie, Taz, Ronan, Bodie and Maverick by her side. They were fortunate to receive the unconditional love she gave to them.. Karen faced challenges with her health but did her best to show the spirit that was always in her heart. Her radiant smile looks down upon us as she joins her sister in Heaven.
Karen is survived by her parents, Jack and Judy Westerman; her sister and brother-in-law, Sheri and Steig Erickson and their children, Emma, Austin and Jacob; niece Alicia Kouts and great-niece, Kylee, and great-nephew, Kane; niece Tiffany and husband Leslie Robinson and their children, Kamden and Eli; and niece Crystal Kouts. She was preceded in death by her sister, Wendy Westerman Kouts.
A memorial service celebrating Karen’s life will be held at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 200 West Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78752 on Sunday, November 14. Viewing at 1:00 PM. Service to begin at 2:00 PM with a reception to follow at the church.
In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be made in honor of Karen to the Make-a-Wish Foundation or a charity of your choice. Our family is forever grateful for the love, prayers and support shown to us during this time.