The president of the state’s largest teachers union died Tuesday after a yearlong battle with cancer.
Karen Godfrey, 54, had been the Kansas National Education Association’s president since July 2012. She was at the Capitol in April during the union’s two-day protest against a bill to eliminate state-mandated due process hearings for public school teachers.
“This was her second bout with cancer,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, a public school teacher and union member. “She was very sick when she was up here late at night, when the ‘Red Shirts’ were up here at the Capitol. I mean, that’s how dedicated she was; even with her illness, she felt compelled to be here, be present.”
Mark Farr, the KNEA’s vice president, offered sympathy to Godfrey’s family in a message to KNEA members.
“Individually we grieve her loss and collectively we mourn our loss as the education community has so richly benefited from Karen’s work and effort,” he said.
Godfrey died at her home in Wakarusa, according to a union spokesman. Before going to work for the union full time in 2006, Godfrey taught in the Seaman school district.