In loving memory of

Karen C. Tilton
December 6, 1942 - February 10, 2022

Karen Claudeen (Moyes) Tilton, age 79 died at home after an extended illness with her husband at her side in The Villages, Florida.

She was born on December 6, 1942 in La Harpe, Illinois, to Paul Vernon and Joan Charlotte (Shaffner) Moyes.

Karen and her boyhood sweetheart Dean were married on December 23, 1962 and were happily married for 59 years.

Dean, her sons Ted and Trent, her daughters-in-law and six grandchildren were the focal point of her life and brought her the greatest joy in her life.

Karen was a graduate of La Harpe (Illinois) High School and earned her Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts from Western Illinois University and her Master's Degree in Speech Communication and Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa.

They moved to Maquoketa, Iowa, in 1965 where they would live for 40 years. During that time Karen taught at Preston High School, followed by Andrew High School and finally at Maquoketa High School where she taught speech, drama and British Literature for 27 years as well as being Director of Theatre and Speech. During that time she also taught on the adjunct faculty of Clinton Community College for 20 years. The Tilton's enjoyed a 25-year involvement with the Peace Pipe Players Community Theatre which Karen co-founded. Karen directed many plays and musical comedies over the 25-year span and it was a great source of enjoyment as a hobby.

Her teaching career spanned 39 years and brought her and her students many honors. She was awarded the Iowa Teacher of the Year by the University of Iowa, Maquoketa Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Speech and Drama Educator Sectional Award by the National Federation, of Activities and the University of Iowa Communication Education Outstanding Alumni Award. She also served on the Iowa High School Speech Executive Committee for 8 years and was inducted into the Iowa High School Speech Association Hall of Fame, the Iowa Thespian Society Hall of Fame, and the Maquoketa High School Hall of Fame.

Upon retirement Karen and Dean moved to The Villages, Florida, where a new and exciting phase of their life began. Karen taught courses at the Lifelong Learning College in The Villages for several years, restarted her interest in golf, and belonged to P.E.O (Chapter IT) where she served as President in 2015-2017. Karen & her husband Dean organized the IOWA CLUB in The Villages. She was a member of the "Strumming Sisters" of the New Covenant United Methodist Church. Karen also discovered clowning and magic, both new and rewarding hobbies. She was an active member of Clown Alley #179, an active troupe of over 100 clowns in The Villages. She was also a member of The Villages Magic Club and the Lake County Magic Association (IBM Ring 258). She enjoyed combining clowning and magic at elementary schools, nursing homes, and special events and parades in and around The Villages. And lastly, in 2020 Karen became a certified teacher with VIPKid teaching international students English as a second language over the internet.

In addition to being survived by her loving husband, Dean, Karen is survived by her two sons Ted Alan (Lesil) of Denver, Colorado, and Trent Michael (Nicole) of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and her seven grandchildren Brianna, Morghan, Trystan, and MaKinzi of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Ethan, Dylan and Grayson of Denver, Colorado, and one sister, Kolleeta Seeley of Daytona Beach, Florida, and her brother-in law Paul Van Tilton (Mary Fran) of Elmhurst, Illinois, and her niece Kristina Kincaid and nephews Bill Kincaid and Martin Tilton. She was preceded in death by her parents.

An informal memorial service to celebrate Karen's life will be held on Saturday, June 25. Visit the family from 9:30 to 11:00 in "The Bistro" at Carson's followed by a brief service at 11:00 at Carson Celebration of Life Center.

Online Condolences may be left at


Denny Heiserman wrote on Jun 25, 2022:

"Mrs "T" as we called her at times, was an amazing teacher and mentor to countless students. While at Andrew she impacted alot of us in speech and our schools plays. Always took the time and effort in each individual person no matter what. Remember her involvement in the PPP in Maquoketa as a high school student. My thought and prayers to Dean and the entire family and her community in Florida. Thanks Mrs. "T" for a lifetime of memories ."

Dr. Paul and Valerie Horst wrote on Jun 10, 2022:

"Dean and family, What can I say that hasn't already been said? I came to know Karen through PPP and my son's speech class(as well as a patient for years) and she just lit up the room with her enthusiasm and good nature. If life is to be lived, then she was a shining example of how to do it. I always found her to be looking for that "one more thing" that needed to be done. She leaves behind a void that would be hard for most of us to fill. But, the show must go on and she has left us to do it. Thanks, Karen for the gift of your guidance and friendship. "Break a leg", my friend!"

Steve West wrote on Mar 14, 2022:

"Dean, I am so sorry to hear about Karen. I heard the news from a recently discovered distant cousin who lives in the Maquoketa area. It?s been many, many years since we spent time together. I certainly remember the time with the Peace Pipe Players. Karen?s talent in putting the shows together was remarkable. A caring and very talented lady. The memories from those years have remained with me. My thoughts are with you and your family. "

Cheryl Henry wrote on Feb 20, 2022:

"Thoughts and prayers to the Tilton family. She left her mark on Maquoketa and everywhere else she's been!"

Michelle Maze Hughes wrote on Feb 18, 2022:

"Mr. Tilton, Ted, & Trent, I am so sorry for your loss! I was privileged to have Mrs. Tilton as a teacher, Speech coach, & play director. I am grateful for all the time & talent she shared with me. She was very dedicated to her students and she was passionate about her craft. All My Sympathy, Michelle Maze Hughes "

Jerry Lee wrote on Feb 17, 2022:

"Mrs Tilton's speech class did exactly what it was intended to do; make me do stuff I would never otherwise do in a million years. It was a safe space to look like an idiot, but never feel that way. She was always a caring, comforting guide. There were many moments in that class I'll always remember, but one of my favorites was not in the classroom. It was in a softball game with the intramural champs The Express vs The Faculty. Deep in the game, I was upset as a result of what I thought was a series of biased calls by the Superintendent umpire in favor of the teachers. It was my turn to bat and instead of playing by the rules and swinging left handed, I marched up to the plate to hit righty's payback time. Karen Tilton was on the mound. We locked eyes. She paused. Gave me the "I'm so disappointed in you" look and lobbed one in. I crushed it for a homer. What would have been one of my greatest moments in sports and defiance against authority, was empty because I know Mrs Tilton did not approve. I hope she found it in her heart to forgive me. But I still think of that moment when I need to remind myself to just try and be better. Thanks KT. My condolences to the Tilton family. You are all very near and dear to my heart."

Janith Cratsenberg wrote on Feb 16, 2022:

"Mrs. Tilton was my first High School English teacher and my favorite. I remember attending speech contest with her as coach, and loving every minute of it. Years after, I was delighted to be a speech coach in the WAMAC speech conference with her. My admiration only grew greater as she was one of the best speech and drama coaches around. I was so proud to have been one of her first students at LHS."

Robert Christensen wrote on Feb 16, 2022:

"Very nice people and loved by all who knew Dean & Karen. Mr. C & Bonnie Christensen in Marshalltown,lowa"

Sandy Dyas wrote on Feb 15, 2022:

"Mrs. Tilton, as I knew her when I was a high school student at Andrew High School changed my life in many ways. Karen brought Speech and Drama to my life. She coached me and many other students and we excelled at speech contests as going to State to win awards. She directed the plays, taught me to love literature and really loved being a teacher. I will never forget the time she took me to Bloomington, IN to several days of theatrical workshops at the University. She was a wonderful woman and teacher. My sincere condolences to her family. No one will ever take her place and I will always remember her as my very favorite teacher."

Linda L Rotman wrote on Feb 15, 2022:

"Karen was an extraordinary woman. It was a privilege to know her. Heartfelt sympathy to Dean and family."

Ron Delagardelle wrote on Feb 14, 2022:

"There are those who just live. Then there are those who enrich the lives of all they touch. This was Karen. It was my joy and privilege to teach with Karen. Not only that, she was the guide for me in my enjoyable time with PPP. Karen encouraged me to try for and obtain a speaking role in the movie F.I.S.T. I, along with many others, owe so much to her. My thoughts and prayers to Dean and the family. Ron Delagardelle"

Jennifer Vance-Moritz wrote on Feb 14, 2022:

"My deepest sympathies to Karen?s family. She was an amazing teacher that touched so many lives. "

Laura (Meyer) Engelhardt wrote on Feb 14, 2022:

"Mrs. Tilton (AKA "KT") was a mentor to so many students at Maquoketa High School. She encouraged those of us who lacked confidence and helped me find my voice. Her comments and suggestions pushed us to improve and become the best versions of ourselves. The summer before my senior year, she drove another student and me in an air conditioned-less Suburban all the way to Muncie, Indiana, for the International Thespian Convention. Without her generous gift of time and energy, we would never have had that experience. She will be so missed."

Angel Schiffer wrote on Feb 14, 2022:

"My deepest sympathy for Karen's passing. May you always remember the blessings she bestowed upon you. May God's love and peace comfort you all the days ahead."

Elizabeth Lind wrote on Feb 14, 2022:

"Karen was such a sweet lady. So sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers for family and friends."

Kerry Schepers wrote on Feb 14, 2022:

"Keeping the Tilton family in prayers. Karen taught me how to SPEAK professionally! I remember practicing with her in the back yard while she sun tanned and I practiced speeches... She helped many young people build their own confidence because she believed in US! A role model who inspired many. "