Karen Tanksley — The Heart of a Beloved Quilter
Karen Baldry Tanksley was born Oct. 16, 1934, to proud parents Dorothy Wasson Baldry and George Armington Baldry from Hiawatha, Kansas.
She was preceded in death nearly a year ago by her only sibling, George Kendall Baldry.
She was an Army brat, attending 21 different schools as her father rose through Army ranks to become a Colonel. She attended high school in Heidelberg, Germany, and La Chatelaine in Switzerland before beginning her college career at Stephens College. She completed her studies at Northwestern and earned a teaching credential.
While she was teaching high school English in Los Angeles County, she met Paul Allen Tanksley through her sister-in-law Nancy Baldry. They married in 1959, and had three children: David Allen, Neal Bard, and Paula, born in 1960, 1961, and 1962. A fantastic homemaker and teacher, Karen excelled teaching her children how to cook, sew, craft, and garden — and use good grammar. (An ongoing family joke was to say, “Use gooder language,” which reliably elicited a mock shriek of despair from Karen.)
She served as a Den Mother and Brownie leader, as well as doing fundraising for the Sandpiper organization in the Los Angeles area. Never shy about sewing brightly colored clothes, she discovered quilting in the late 1970s. Her first quilt was a difficult hexagonal daisy pattern made of scrap stretch fabrics for Neal, followed by a log cabin pattern quilt made of bathing suit scraps and old clothes for Paula. She did most of her piecing on what is now a vintage Elna.
In 1980, Karen and Paul moved from Manhattan Beach, California, to Dallas, OR, where they attempted to escape the LA grind by raising milk-fed veal. They elected early retirement after Paul sustained a back injury. As Karen put it, “We learned what hard work really was.” Karen then proceeded to make a dent in the quilting world. She was well-known for her unabashed use of very bright colors, and made fast friends with women in Salem’s Mid Valley Quilt Guild. In addition to sewing prize-worthy quilts for herself and family, Karen also made many, many quilts for wounded soldiers and children. The Mid-Valley Quilt Guild made “Police Car Quilts” for the police to give to needy children in desperate situations, and Karen was an avid quilter for this charity.
Widowed in 2012, Karen eventually moved to Hillsboro in 2015. She joined the Thursday Threaders quilting group, where she again distinguished herself with fine piecing, stitching and use of bright colors. The master bedroom in her home became her quilting studio, delighting all who sewed — or visited — there.
Karen’s memory will be carried with love by her three children and their spouses: David and Staci Tanksley, from Lincoln City, Neal and Toni Tanksley, from Hillsboro, and Paula and Eric Braun, from Sebastopol, California. Karen’s four grandchildren and their spouses will miss her greatly: Olivia Tanksley (with three children in Hillsboro), Zachary Tanksley and his wife Karina (with three children in Hillsboro), Travis Tanksley and his wife Erica, in Salem, Malia Tanksley, who preceded her grandmother in 1997, and Alyssa Tanksley, from Lincoln City.
Services were held in the Dallas Mortuary Tribute Center. Memorial donations in Karen’s honor may be given to the Wounded Warrior Project or the Wildland Firefighter Organization. Or, maybe find a fabric in your favorite color and make something out of it — and feel Karen smiling with you. www.dallastribute