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Kari Saunders

school in 1981. Mom spent most of her life working in careers that helped children, including many years running an in-home daycare and the last 20 years at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation's Sex Offender Registry Unit. She was married to her husband James for 33 years before her death in 2017. Mom gave even in death as she was an organ donor. 


My mom was an advocate for children and spend most of her life working in fields that served children. She loved spending time with her family and pets (her dog Belle and cat Shadow) and riding with the top down in her red Mini Cooper. She also loved shopping for a bargain, getting her nails done, and traveling with family. My mom always awoke with a smile and wanted to enjoy every moment of life. She loved her children fiercely and made sure we wanted for nothing.


My earliest memories of my mother include her helping me prepare for a beauty pageant at the age of 5 or 6. I later asked her to be put into voice lessons and she figured out who to send me to. From the age of 7 to 20 I spent my summers driving all over the state with my mother to compete in the Bill Riley Competition. Every summer we would go to the fairgrounds before the fair started to practice on the Bill Riley Stage. 


My last conversation with my mother was two days before her sudden death. We had just finished mailing all of the wedding invitations and went to dinner together. At dinner, She told me how proud she was of me and we cried. As we were leaving we hugged and she made me spill my leftovers all over my feet. Being a mom she had everything in her car to clean up the mess quickly and then she was off in her mini cooper. I like to think she is up in heaven ridding around in that mini cooper.


Tribute by: Dr. Jessica Saunders


My mom, Kari Saunders, was the most

influential person in my musical career.

While not a musician herself, she always

made music a part of daily life and she

supported my aspirations of being a singer

even from a young age. She loved to sing

loudly and participated in band in grade



Mom was born in Ogallala, Nebraska on

January 22, 1963. She was raised in Fort

Dodge, Iowa where she graduated high

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