Karen turned 58 on January 1. She grew up in Indianapolis and is a Butler University grad. She was an elementary teacher, and met her future husband when he noticed her playing guitar during Mass at St Thomas Aquinas church. Mike Pence later proposed as the two walked along an Indianapolis canal, feeding the ducks.
Mike Pence was a lawyer at the time, although before they married he told Karen, “‘In my 50s, I’d like to run for Congress.”
“It was fine with me,” Karen said. “I didn’t know much about politics.” She was to learn, though. After a few losses, Pence was elected to the House of Representatives in 2001 and has served there ever since, until he was elected Indiana governor in November 2012, to succeed current governor Mitch Daniels. Karen has taught elementary art in both public and private schools, taking time off to raise her children when they were small.
The Pences initially feared they were unable to have children. After applying with an adoption agency and learning they were among five couples a mom-to-be was considering for her baby, they ended up with a surprise: they were expecting a baby themselves! They now have a son,21-year-old Michael, and two daughters, 19-year-old Charlotte and 18-year-old Audrey. Michael and Charlotte are in college, and Audrey will join them next fall.
Karen’s empty nest will likely be a busy place as she fixes up the governor’s mansion and indulges in her hobby of art. She loves watercolors and has sold her paintings at art fairs. As far as her plans as first lady, Karen is waiting to see how things go: “We are not long-term planners. We never have been,” she said. “The great thing about being the first lady is you can just be yourself.”
I’m proud that Indiana is setting itself apart from our nation — which is rapidly being buried in debt — by remaining in the black and on-budget. I feel certain Mike Pence will continue this legacy, and I wish him and Karen all the best!