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Kaaren LeRa (Cook) OkeyOctober 17, 2017 ~ August 5, 2017
Kaaren Cook Okey, 77, of Orem, Utah, passed away peacefully as she prepared to retire for bed Saturday August 5, 2017.
Kaaren was born October 17, 1939, in Provo, Utah, to Earl Cook and Lera Smith. Kaaren grew up in Springville, Utah. Her upbringing forged a sterling character of hard work, compassion, and family. Kaaren and her twin brother Kaae were the youngest in the Cook family and they quickly became a central part of Springville life despite suffering the effects of polio. Kaaren grew up as a favorite of her father’s - a tomboy who worked and played hard. She threw all of herself into life - tending the goat that would climb onto the roof of their house, organizing Springville High activities, or holding eight cones at once behind the counter of Cook’s Ice Cream - where an older boy would visit, buy his favorite flavor, and sit under the large shade trees out front with a spoon and polish off the whole quart of ice cream.
As she grew, Kaaren was always well loved due to her sincerity, energy, and enthusiasm. She was chosen Miss Art City by her class at Springville High. Kaaren and her high school friends formed “Club” - a monthly dinner group that continues to meet after 60 years. After working and studying, Kaaren met John Okey on a blind date. They fell in love and were married - perhaps because she realized the ice-cream eating boy by the tree was in fact John Okey! She loved her John dearly, although the high heeled shoes he continually bought for her were less-loved. Their union launched the greatest joy of her life…..her family!
Kaaren and John had eight kids on whom they showered love, approval, and affection. She worked tirelessly to care for her family. It was really hard to sneak out of a house where the mother was up ironing school clothes at 3 a.m.! On top of the three cooked meals she would prepare for ten plus people each day, she did countless little things like sewing beautiful clothes, having a fresh snack for her kids after school, and making sure that no matter the injury, it was the biggest deal to her. Her children cannot recall eating a cold breakfast in all their years under Kaaren’s roof and her whistle for dinner could be heard several neighborhoods away. She doted on her grandkids as well and sleepovers at Grandma’s meant a chocolate banana shake at night and a Mickey Waffle at breakfast…..with lots of love, books, games and “gotcha last” in between.
Kaaren loved life and put her all into everything. Her smile seemed to be biggest when she was among flowers and gardens, or riding a horse or carving fresh powder on her snowmobile. A loving parent might let their kids win every once in a while, not her, none of her children can recall ever beating her in a game of tennis. Kaaren’s drive and energy led her to start her own business (Kitchen Collectibles) in the mall and to run an essential oils business. She always pushed her kids to try new things and to trust and invest in themselves.
Kaaren was a devoted follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ. She served in the Young Women’s organization of her church for over 25 years as well as in various other positions. She was a pure soul and the best listener on earth. No one ever heard a critical word or a complaint pass her lips. She taught her kids independence, dedication, hard work, service, compassion for others, and most importantly, a love for our Savior.
In their later years, John and Kaaren served a mission for the LDS Church in St. George, Utah, where thousands of visitors to the temple and church historic sites were welcomed by her warm smile. As Kaaren aged, she received angelic care from some special nurses in her struggle with post-polio and Alzheimer's and she became more dependent on others - especially after she lost her sweet husband in 2014. We are so happy John was finally able to have his sweet “Kaari Nubus” run into his arms after their long separation.
Those who knew Kaaren knew her good heart and her love for her Savior. Those who knew Kaaren have a smile on their lips reading the words of Matthew:
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
Kaaren had the most pure heart, and if ever there were someone deserving and rejoicing to see God, it is Kaaren Cook Okey.
Kaaren was preceded in death by her beloved John, her parents, two brothers, and a sister. She is survived by a loving family: her sister Marjean Cook Giraud, her brothers Jimmy (Patsy) Cook and Kaae (Yvonne) Cook, and her children Stefanie (Mark) Cusick, Richard (Terri) Okey, Melanie (Kevin) Paxton, Suzette (Dirk) Astle, Rochelle (Dennis) O'Brien, Marisha (Michael) Akin, Tyler (Jamie) Okey, and Brandon (Jana) Okey. Kaaren will be especially missed by her 31 grandchildren and one great grandson.
Kaaren will be interred at Eastlawn Memorial, August 14, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. As per Kaaren’s wishes, a simple graveside service will be held for her family and close friends. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the LDS Missionary Fund.
The service information has been updated. Please disregard information from other websites.
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