Karen Diane Smith - Miss Kansas 1974
Karen Smith Fender was raised in Shawnee, Kansas. Karen was Miss Kansas 1974, representing the state at the Miss America Scholarship Pageant where she was a preliminary swimsuit winner and won a non-finalist talent award. She was selected for the Miss America USO Troup 1975, where she traveled throughout Southeast Asia and The Mediterranean entertaining troops and performing at the Miss America 1975 Pageant.
Karen attendee the University of Kansas where she was a gymnast and cheerleader. After graduation from KU she worked for Southwestern Bell in Kansas City for two years. In 1981 she opened a competitive dance studio, Dance Gallery, in Lawrence, Kansas which she owned and operated for 33 years. She was a choreographer for The Miss Kansas Pageant for many years, and was active with the Miss Lawrence Pageant. Karen has judged many National Dance Competitions throughout the United States, as well as judged many Miss Kansas Preliminary Pageants.
She was on the Board of Directors for the University of Kansas Letterman’s Club for over 20 years and is a member of P.E.O.. She raised her two sons, Ryan and Jason, in Lawrence and now has a 5-year old granddaughter, Kiana who lives with her father in Hawaii. Karen sold her business in 2014 and retired to Marco Island, Florida with her fiancé Tom Gibbs, where she enjoys pickleball, golf and yoga.