Karae was born to Robert and Joy Cook on February 19, 1966 in Spearfish, South Dakota. Her sweet slumber began on February 4, 2021 in Wasilla, AK. The Cook family lived on Riflepit Divide above Red Canyon on Sand Creek near Beulah, Wyoming when Karae was born, then later moved to Brown’s Court near Clear, Alaska. Precocious and curious, Karae learned to read at the age of four years old, after sneaking down the hallway to listen to her mother teach reading lessons in the Brown’s Court School through the heating vent. Karae attended many schools in both Alaska and South Dakota, including Newhalen and Blunt Elementary. She wore a kuspuk as a cheerleader in Manokotak, AK. She cheered and graduated from Sully Buttes High School in Onida, SD in 1983.
Karae moved to Alaska for good shortly after the birth of her first son, Adam in 1984. She attended and graduated from Alaska Computer Institute in Fairbanks and worked at Wedgewood Hotel. Her son, Elijah, was born in 1988. She raised her sons in Fairbanks and then moved to Wasilla in 2000. She married Drew Lay in 2009, and built a house and multiple businesses with her husband, including All Seasons Clothing Company and Steve’s Toyo Stoves. She loved her house on the banks of Cottonwood Creek, and Karae “Ma” took pride in caring for her husband, her family, and her home. She spent many hours enjoying the sun on her “Redneck Deck”. Karae’s granddaughter, Arabella, was born in 2018, and immediately stole Karae’s heart. She enjoyed her last vacation with her sons and granddaughter a few months before her death.
Karae loved to laugh, travel, camp, decorate, cook, sing, dance, and give to her family. She especially enjoyed traveling in her motorhome the last few years to music festivals and the Talkeetna River. Karae always brought the party! She was not shy, and loved to perform and make people laugh. If you visited her home, you may have been asked or told to put on a costume from her dress up room, or play with the toys she kept in her Barbie room for her nieces and nephews. Her smile, laugh, and sense of humor were truly unforgettable.
Karae was known by many nicknames, including Ma, Nitty, Sis, Mrs. Beasley, Karae Z, Nitty-nitty Nefertiti, Spider Legs, Ginger, Mom, Nana and Grandma. She is survived by her husband Drew, her sons Adam (Megan) and Elijah (Cassandra), step-daughter Tanya and granddaughters Audrian and Arabella, father Robert, sisters Robae (Maury) and Charmaree (Scott), brothers Bryan, Casey (Kristin), and Joel (Maureen). She is also survived by her beloved nieces and nephews, Tiare, Keenan, Reece, Ramey, Jace, and Annika, and great-nephews and nieces, Tegan, Olivia, Jackson, and AJ. She is survived by a large extended family that greatly mourns her passing and her cousin Mark, who traveled to be with her before her death. She was preceded in death by her mother, Joy and her uncle, Roger.
Karae’s farewell was on Saturday, February 20, 2021 at Janssen’s Funeral Home in Wasilla, AK at 1:00 p.m. Zoom was available for those unable to attend in person. Interment was followed in the summer at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Blunt, SD, where Karae was laid to rest next to her mother, Joy.