Karen McKenney Baty, a specialist in drug-abuse issues and a leader of workshops statewide who had been a teacher and counselor of children with learning or behavioral challenges, died Monday in Kingston Residence of Sylvania. She was 80.
Mrs. Baty, formerly of Weston, Ohio, West Toledo, and Ottawa Hills, had Alzheimer’s-related dementia and did not recover from surgery after a broken hip, her daughter Lauren Cedoz said.
She was a former member of the Wood County Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board.
In 1985, she was designated a certified alcoholism counselor by an Ohio credentialing board. She was a teacher-counselor in that period for the Lucas County Schools, a predecessor to the present-day educational service center, and later coordinated prevention and intervention. She was with the chemical dependency unit at St. Vincent Medical Center’s Tennyson Center and was a teacher with Charter Behavioral Health.
She also presented workshops across Ohio and helped educators plan drug-prevention programs.
“She always wanted to help others,” said Helene Helburn, a former neighbor and longtime friend. “As you can see from all the things she did in her life, she did that. Her passion was tutoring and counseling.”
Mrs. Baty early in her career tutored in the Ottawa Hills schools. After stepping back from the drug-prevention work in the late 1990s, she helped students at St. Ursula Academy.
She had a certificate from the University of Toledo in working with students who had learning and severe behavioral disabilities. She wanted children to reach their potential without fear, without feeling different, without feeling unaccepted, her daughter said.
“She was one who was able to make connections with kids at their level,” her daughter said.
She made scrapbooks for her daughters and grandchildren to chronicle the phases of her life and her achievements. She included the notes and cards and senior photos and college graduation announcements she received. Former students wrote that she’d cared, that she’d been there for them.
“She was very touched by those students who were able to reach out to her,” her daughter said. “She had a big impact on a lot of students who were in crisis or having difficulty achieving their education.”
After 30 years as an educator, Mrs. Baty continued to teach, but as a volunteer at the Toledo Museum of Art, where she was a docent.
“She wanted to do her best job,” Mrs. Helburn said. “She would sometimes discuss how she could make her presentation interesting and exciting. She went to the nth degree.”
Born Dec. 31, 1937, in Columbus to Christine and Paul Walker, she was a graduate of the Columbus School for Girls and Bexley High School. She attended the University of Michigan and had a bachelor of science degree in education from Ohio State University. She had a master of education degree and a master’s degree in community and agency counseling, both from UT.
She was formerly married to the late John McKenney.
Surviving are her husband, George Baty, whom she married July 24, 1987; daughters Lauren Cedoz and Kristin McKenney Monkman; stepson, Mike Baty; stepdaughters, Barbie Spieth and Anne Marie Jackson; three grandchildren, and several step-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at Epworth United Methodist Church, Ottawa Hills, with visitation after 2 p.m. Arrangements are by Walker Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to the Alzheimer’s Association or Ohio Living Hospice.
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