Inside Karen Pence’s Marriage to Mike Pence, Offices She Has Held And Her Return To Teaching

While the rest of the world is familiar with the First Lady of the United States, very few know the identity and even the existence of such office as “Second Lady.” Yes! What else would you call the wife of the Vice President? Karen Pence is an American educator, teacher, and painter, who is married to Mike Pence; the 48th Vice President of the United States.

Judging from the controversial nature of the administration in which her husband serves, Karen Pence is perhaps one of the most silent members of President Donald Trump’s administration. But this wouldn’t be her first taste of “Ladyship.” She had been the first lady of the state of Indiana since 2013 when her husband began serving as governor of the state; up until January 9, 2017. But while she is mostly known for her union with Mike Pence, this isn’t her first marriage.

Karen Pence’s First Marriage Was To John Steven Whitaker

What many people don’t know is that the present Vice President of the United States is far from being Karen Pence’s first husband as the second lady of America has dabbled into matrimony once in her life; this happened when she was still very young and impressionable.

While she is now identified as Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, during high school days, met her first husband, John Steven Whitaker, and the couple got married on August 4, 1978, in Brewster County, Texas. Yes! Karen had a life outside Indiana, too. But the union later hit a brick wall, leading to their divorce a few years later.

At the time, Whitaker was a medical student. To date, she hasn’t revealed the reason(s) for the divorce on any media interview or outlet.

She Met Her Current Husband, Mike Pence, In The Church

Karen Pence.
Karen and her husband, Mike Pence image source

Soon after her divorce, Karen met Mike Pence at a Mass in St. Thomas Aquinas Church, in late 1983. She was serving as a guitarist for the church at the time. On their first date, the couple went ice skating at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, got engaged in August 1984 after nine months of dating, and were married on June 8, 1985.

Though they were Catholics as of the time of their wedding, the couple converted to Evangelical Christianity in 1995. Karen and Mike have three children: Michael (who serves in the U.S. Marine Corps), Charlotte, and Audrey.

Contrary to what you might think, Mike Pence doesn’t call his wife, Honey, Sweetie, or the many pet names we’re used to. He simply calls her “mother.” Now that may not sound right until you realize just how much influence she’s had on him over the years.

Karen Pence has considerable influence on her husband’s conservative stance. She’s not only a darling wife but also serves as a spiritual cover over her family. She’s been one of the greatest influences behind Mike’s spiritual life, and that of her children.

Family Comes First For The Second Lady

Karen Pence firmly said in an interview that her family comes first in all she does. While there’s been much glitz and glamour around being the wife of the Vice President, Karen Pence continues to see herself as a family woman; who has a responsibility to her husband and three grown-up children.

Karen’s children may be all grown up but she still looks out for them. The art teacher even made the watercolour illustrations for her daughter, Charlotte’s, 2018 children’s book titled, “Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President”.

The Pence family spent a better part of their life in Indiana; however, Mike Pence’s present post as the Vice Present of the United States saw their move to Washington, D.C. Karen enjoys hosting military families at the vice president’s residence.

Karen Pence Has Always Intended To Follow A Career Path In Teaching

Raised in Broad Ripple Village, Indianapolis, Karen Pence attended Bishop Chatard High School; graduating as valedictorian for her year. She then proceeded to Butler University, Indiana, where she studied to become a teacher, specializing in art.

At Butler, Karen Pence received both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree in elementary education. The following twenty-five years of her life would be dedicated to education and teaching.

Karen Pence spent much of her time schooling and working in Indianapolis. Much of her career history has seen her move from school to school, serving as an educator, a teacher, and an ace painter in her own right. She has taught at Acton Elementary, John Strange Elementary, the Orchard School, and Fall Creek Elementary all in Indianapolis.

Following the birth of her first child, Michael, she took a class in watercolour painting. This “little” step would open the door to her painting career. She mostly paints portraits of houses and historic buildings. So far, Karen Pence has completed no less than thirty-five paintings a year. Most of them were on commission and others being sold at local art fairs.

During her husband’s days in Congress, she was employed at a private Christian school in Springfield, Virginia called Immanuel Christian School, functioning as an art teacher for 12 years.

Karen’s Tenor As Indiana’s First Lady Shifted Her Focus From Teaching

When her husband eventually won the governorship seat of the Indiana state, it automatically made Karen Pence the first lady of Indiana; a position which she held from 2013 to 2017. On getting into office, Pence launched the First Lady’s Charitable Foundation in the state with a focus on promoting organizations and individuals that offer encouragement to family units, children, and the arts, also presenting them with scholarships and grants.

In 2015, she established “‘That’s My Towel!’ Charm” – a small business that specializes in making metal charms for attaching to towels for easy identification. However, when her husband declared his political ambition of running for the VP of the United States, she had to put the business on hold.

Her Husband’s Victory At The Presidential Elections Made Her The Second Lady Of The United States

Karen Pence
Karen Pence – a supportive wife image source

When her spouse succeeded Joe Biden as the Vice President of the United States on the 20th of January 2017, Pence assumed the position of the second lady with her attention focused on helping her husband in his tedious work as the US second citizen.

She started by hiring a chief of staff Kristan King Nevins who served former first lady Barbara Bush in the same position. Her plans as the second lady entail raising awareness of art therapy, to which she was first exposed during her visits to a Washington hospital when her husband was still serving as a congressman.

Pence has paid visits to the campus of Florida State University in 2017 with the aim of highlighting the art therapy program of the institution which dates back to the 1990s.

She Went Back To Teaching In 2019

Since she left the classroom, Karen Pence has obviously missed her profession as an announcement surfaced in the first month of 2019 that the Second Lady of the United States was set to take back her job at Immanuel Christian School as the art teacher. According to Karen, she is very excited to return to the classroom doing what she loves.

According to Independent, the school has faced a previous accusation of homophobia for not admitting gay students, upholding a policy wherein it is allowed to reject students that engage in, accept, or uphold, “homosexual activity, sexual immorality, or bisexual activity”, the policy also applies to both staff and parents.

Pence’s decision to return to the school earned her some harsh criticism from LGBT supporters but her husband was quick to come to her rescue, defending his wife’s decision and profession. One important aspect of Pence’s profession that should not be overlooked is the fact that she is a trained pilot. The second lady enjoys hiking and has shared her hiking photos on Instagram.

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