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Obituary for Reverend Kara Frances Baylor

August 18, 1970 – May 25, 2023

Reverend Kara Frances Baylor, 52, passed peacefully on May 25, 2023. Kara was born on Aug. 18, 1970, in Madison, Wis., and adopted by Reverend Roger and Marilyn Skatrud in Shawano, Wis., on Sept. 24, 1970.

Reverend Kara Frances Baylor
Reverend Kara Frances Baylor

Kara began her path to doing God’s will by earning a bachelor’s degree in social work from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Although she was never a practicing social worker, she was called to the work of caring for others. Kara later earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She was ordained in 2000 and began her ministry at Mount Pleasant Lutheran Church that same year.

While at Mount Pleasant Lutheran, Kara developed as a preacher and teacher. She was a much-beloved confirmation teacher and youth leader. She was inviting, engaging and thoughtful with each of the confirmation students.

After 14 years at Mount Pleasant Lutheran, she accepted the position to lead the Center for Faith and Spirituality at Carthage College in Kenosha. In her role as campus pastor, she walked side by side with students as their faith and beliefs waxed and waned; but she continued to offer hope, light and guidance to their lives with love. Kara hosted regular interfaith lunches and conversations; chapel gatherings and events; meetings with students and faculty; counseling, as well as a variety of other spiritual programs and service activities.

More broadly, it was Kara’s mission to challenge and change our understanding of the church and the depth of God’s love. Through her preaching and teaching, she sought to illuminate and connect the scripture with our seemingly ordinary lives. She developed methods of connecting stories on NPR, the news, Oprah and her favorite songs to help us understand how and where God’s love is present in our lives.

She used each sermon to provide instructions on how to use love for healing of ourselves and others. Kara was a beacon of love and hope, so much so that strangers often were drawn to her and were compelled to open up to her (unsolicited) about their lives. She responded to each with a kind word and a smile.

Kara also understood that true love requires honesty and action. After the death of George Floyd in 2020 and the protests that followed, Kara was called to take action. She began to publicly question and criticize systems of inequity and injustice. She started #PissedOffPastor where she spoke passionately about racism, sexism, sexuality and other injustices. She spoke “Truth to Power” with a balance of anger and grace, leaving others to continue the work of advocating for those without a voice.

Kara’s bright light and love extended well beyond her career. She was a kind, loving and compassionate soul. She was introduced to Trenton at a Christmas party in 2001 (God had a plan) and they were married in 2003. Together they had Thea Grace and Tova Hope. Kara was an incredibly loving and supportive wife, mother, and friend. Kara provided unconditional love and encouragement to Thea and Tova; unwavering love, companionship and encouragement to Trenton and loyalty to friends and family. In her free time, she enjoyed exercise, cooking, travel and her green tea.

Kara will be remembered for her kindness, compassion, and friendship, as well as her honesty, tenacity, perseverance and a bit of stubbornness.

She is survived by her father, Rev. Roger Skatrud; husband, Trenton Baylor; daughters, Thea Grace Baylor and Tova Hope Baylor; brothers, Arne R. Skatrud (Lisa L. Skatrud), and Eric Skatrud. Kara is preceded in death by her mother, Marilyn Skatrud.

The family would like to thank Dr. Sailaja Kamaraju, Dr. Amanda L. Kong, Dr. Michael P. Mullane, nurses and all the members of the medical community that provided excellent care and compassion throughout Kara’s illness.


Family and friends are invited to meet from 4 to 7 p.m. on June 5 in the Draeger-Langendorf Funeral Home and Crematory for a visitation.

A memorial service celebrating Kara’s life will take place at 11 a.m. on June 6 at Mount Pleasant Lutheran Church. There will not be a visitation prior to the service on Tuesday.

In keeping with the Lutheran tradition and to carry out Kara’s wishes, there will be a potluck immediately following the service. All are welcome to attend. If you are planning to attend, please bring a dish to pass. Last names starting with A-H should bring a main dish, I-Q a side dish, and R-Z a dessert. If you have any questions regarding the potluck, please email

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to be made in Kara’s honor to a charity or one of the organizations listed: American Cancer Society; Carthage College; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); The Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization; Pastor Roger and Marilyn Skatrud Scholarship, Luther College.

Obituary and photo courtesy of Draeger-Langendorf Funeral Home.

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