Karen Flatten Langhart died Jan. 7, 2016, in Yuma County, Arizona. She was 11 days shy of her 57th birthday.
She was born to Orris and Ann Flatten on Jan. 18, 1959, in Yorba Linda, California.
While she was accepted to Stanford University, her family said, Langhart chose to attend California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, because she preferred its architecture program. After earning her bachelor’s degree in environmental design and landscape architecture, Langhart went to work at the Design Workshop in Aspen.
While living in Aspen, she met her future husband, Richard Langhart. The couple married May 7, 1983, in Yorba Linda. That same year, they moved to Durango. They opened the Red Snapper restaurant in 1985.
“She made homemade key lime pies every night for the restaurant,” Rick Langhart said. The couple owned the restaurant for 20 years.
Langhart was involved in numerous community volunteer efforts in Durango during the more than 28 years the Langharts called Durango home, including spearheading a remodel of the Volunteers of America’s Southwest Safehouse, Habitat for Humanity and Project Merry Christmas. She created the TLC for FLC fundraiser, which is the principal fundraiser for the Fort Lewis College Foundation.
One of her proudest moments, her husband said, was when she received the 2005 Morley Ballantine Award at the Durango Chamber of Commerce Awards.
Continuing her interest in architecture, she sat on the Durango Planning Commission, and with her husband, developed Farview Estates at the top of North College Drive and the 250-acre parcel Windom Ranch near Purgatory Resort. Some of her biggest disappointments, her husband said, occurred when the recession began. Three real estate ventures fell through, including affordable housing projects at the Iron Horse Inn and on Florida Mesa as well as Railroad Square in partnership with Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad owner Al Harper.
The Langharts had two children together. Erika Louise Langhart was born in 1987, and Kyle Flinn Langhart joined the family in 1990.
On Thanksgiving Day 2011, Erika died of a massive embolism attributed to the type of hormones used in the NuvaRing contraceptive she was using.
Her death marked a turning point for the couple, who testified before Congress and the Food and Drug Administration, joined in a class-action lawsuit against Merck, the manufacturer of NuvaRing; and created the foundation, which has hosted conferences as well as engaging in other educational efforts.
“After she lost her daughter so unnecessarily, it was her mission to ensure that women are aware and know the dangers present in hormonal contraceptives,” Rick Langhart said.
Langhart is survived by her husband of almost 33 years, Richard Langhart of Litchfield Park, Arizona; son and daughter-in-law, Kyle Flinn and Alizee LaRoche Langhart of Maui, Hawaii; mother, Ann Flatten of Arizona; and brothers, Dave, Mike, Greg and Eric Flatten.
At her request, there will be no memorial service for Karen Langhart.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to www.InformedChoiceforAmerika.com, the foundation she and her husband founded in memory of their daughter to educate young women about reproductive health.