Karla with baby Julie, one of daughter Melanie's favorite photos.
I met Karla Hoyt while investigating infant deaths at a hospital in southwest Missouri in 1986.
One-year-old Joanna was among three children Karla would lose in this life.
Karla endured more trials than any person I met in years of covering tragedy as a reporter. Yet she devoted faith and pain to helping others.
As she said, “The oak grows strongest on the windward side,” sending down the deepest roots where challenging winds blow.
Of all the extraordinary individuals in life I have met, Karla had such profound influence. Three generations of our family are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of her example of how faith and knowledge of eternal life can bring peace amid so many storms.
Karla, 70, passed away Tuesday and is being honored at her funeral today at 10 a.m.
Her own words are my strongest tribute today. She wrote how she dreamed of life and how it turned out:
“As a very new wife, I had imagined that my life with Bob would be the quiet, country cottage variety, with a flower-lined pathway leading to the front door of our little white stucco home.
“The seasons would always be Spring and there would never be a need for screens on the open windows, for nothing undesirable would invade our home.
“Our days would be busy with the tasks of living and serving. In the evenings we would securely draw all of our little children around us, (and the children would always be little) reading stories and scriptures to them in front of the open hearth.
“After family prayer, they would kiss us goodnight and run obediently off to bed.”
Instead, Karla said she learned to be submissive, to “be still and know” of the Lord’s direction, sharing the reality that contrasted from her dream:
“I would have never guessed that life would be otherwise, that the pathway to our door would be rock-lined, our shutters would loosen and sag from unrelenting storms, and the windows would need screens of the strongest gauge.
“Who would have guessed that around that hearth there would now be empty chairs and some children who will, indeed, remain childlike until death releases them to their true selves.”
Karla leaves behind Melanie, Nathan, Aaron, Lori and Daniel. But she’s back home for a glorious reunion with those children she held and lost so long ago: Joanna in 1980, Brye in 1983, and Julie in 1993.
I thought I was writing a book of my life. Instead, you’re going to be reading about the extraordinary lives of people like Karla.