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Karen Gertrude Lane

Updated: Apr 18, 2022

Karen Lane passed away Tuesday, April 12 at her home in Prole, Iowa. A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, April 30 at 11:00 at Linn Grove United Methodist Church 7483 50th Ave, Prole, IA with "Brunch in Bakka's Garden" following at Ralph & Karen's home.

Karen was born to Roland and Trudy (Herbers) Esser on July 31, 1951, in Carroll, Iowa. The Essers moved to West Des Moines in 1952 where Karen lived until moving to Prole in 2005. She attended Sacred Heart Catholic School, St. Joseph's Academy, and Valley High School.

In 1965, at 14 years old, Karen met the love of her life, Ralph Lane, at the Rollerama. Theirs was a love story that stood the test of time. They were married on January 8, 1972, and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year.

Over the course of her life, Karen held several jobs: "beverage girl" at Bishop's Cafeteria, nurses aide at Lutheran Hospital, claims specialist at Midwest Mutual, kitchen manager at Sacred Heart School, and "Karen the Librarian" at the West Des Moines Library. The library was one of her favorite places to be.

Karen had many interests and hobbies. She was an avid gardener of flowers and food. She really enjoyed sharing "good food" from the garden with others. Karen was a genealogist, researching all branches of her family and Ralph's - solving many mysteries along the way and discovering familial connections with many friends. Karen was a quilter and spent many long hours in her sewing room. She recently combined her love of quilting and writing, working on a book based on a signature quilt. She was also working on a family culinary history book. Karen was a volunteer at the Iowa Genealogy Library and the Central Iowa Shelter & Services. She was a life-long learner always seeking out new things. Most importantly, Karen cherished her time with her family and friends.

Karen left a trail of kindness everywhere she went. She had such a zest for life, a fantastic sense of humor, a mischievous streak, and was a great problem solver. There was absolutely nothing she couldn’t do.

Karen was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother “Bakka”, godmother and friend to so many. She is survived by her husband Ralph Lane; children Michael Lane and Michelle Workman; granddaughter Morgan Workman; mother Trudy Esser; siblings Sandi (Don) Neville (God child Billy Neville), Jane Dessauer (Jody Henkenius, Andrew Dessauer, Katie Graeve), Nancy Mills (Bobby Mills and Jesa Busby), Brian Esser (Joey and Godchild Maggie Esser); and many cousins.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Central Iowa Shelter and Services ( or the Iowa Genealogical Society (

This obituary is posted on behalf of O'Leary Funeral & Cremation Services in Norwalk, IA.



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