Karen Payne Luna, 64, passed away at her Branson home on Monday, October 2, 2017. Born in Joplin, on September 21, 1953, she was the daughter of M. Raymond and Virginia Lee Payne.
Karen Alliene attended Joplin schools and was confirmed at St. Philip's Episcopal Church. Active in music and drama, she graduated from Memorial in 1971.
Continuing at Missouri State University, in Springfield, she completed a B.A. and Masters of Drama and English. As drama instructor for Springfield's Parkview High School for many years, she enjoyed the opportunity to introduce others to her passion for drama, song and dance. A summer actress with the University's Tent Theatre, she worked with many collegians. Springfield Little Theatre became an important part of Karen's life as she participated in many productions at The Landers Theatre. Receiving outstanding performance awards three times: 1985 for Miss Tweed in "Something's Afoot"; 1993 Miss Daisy in "Driving Miss Daisy"; and again in 1993 as Sister Hubert in "Nunsense", she enjoyed her characters and co-stars. Whether performing as Miss Daisy for a full-length play in front of a closed curtain to portraying the Wicked Witch of Oz while painted green and mechanically flying on a broomstick above the audience, to joining the Sisters of "Nunsense" in song and dance, Karen lived life to the fullest and felt blessed to have a career she embraced.
Moving with daughter, Meagan, to teach at Clayton, Mo., Karen was reunited with Randy Luna whom she had met years earlier during musical productions at the university. They married May 9, 1998 and made their home in Branson, Mo., where Randy continues to arrange music for several theaters and has been a music director for various shows throughout their 19 years of marriage.
Karen is also survived by her beloved daughter and cherished grandson, Meagan Rae Malone O'Hara and Logan Connor O'Hara, of Fayetteville, Ark.; her sister, Phyllis Payne Sapp, of Joplin; nieces and nephews, Laura, Kim and Brock; cousins; and her mother-in-law, Billie Luna, of Springfield.
Our family will ever remember Karen's courageous journey, never complaining and always upbeat, and the challenges she accepted over two decades of her auto-immune liver disease. Our appreciation to the medical professionals from Barnes, Springfield and Branson who provided years of guidance.
A private family remembrance to celebrate Karen's life was held in Branson.
The Karen Malone Luna Scholarship has been established as her memorial with the Springfield Little Theatre, 311 East Walnut, Springfield, MO 65806 and will be awarded to further a student's education.
Published on October 15, 2017