Kara entered this world on December 9th, 1975 to parents Ron Ratliff and Rhonda James-Irey.  She grew up incredibly close to her family in the tiny town of La Rue, Ohio.  Throughout her time in the Elgin schools community, Kara ventured in basketball and cheerleading, but was born to run.  Her track and cross country days in high school continued in her adult life as she participated in marathons across the state:

Upper Arlington 5 Miler
O’Shaughnessy’s St. Patty’s Day 5K For Diabetes
The Bank Of America Capital City Half Marathon And Commit To Be Fit 5K

Komen Columbus Race For The Cure
Lifeline Of Ohio Dash For Donation
Columbus Marathon
Capital City Half Marathon, Quarter Marathon, & 5K
Marion Popcorn Festival 5K
Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon
Warrior Dash Ohio

Kara’s Warrior Dash in June of 2012 was her last running event, and the first time she noticed her body felt different.  In July, our family was informed and ill-prepared to tackle her news of esophageal cancer.  Kara never smoked or drank; acid reflux was to blame.  In August, she underwent surgery to remove most of her esophagus and have a gastric pull-up, where her stomach was reshaped as an acting esophagus.  Following chemotherapy and radiation for six months, we received the glorious news that she was in remission.  Summer of 2013, our family was more joyous, more thankful, and closer than ever before.  The fall brought about concern as Kara was feeling less than healthy again, and just after Christmas of 2013, we learned that a few lymph nodes had escaped treatment and cancer had returned.  The next year was a fight for survival through determination and prayer.  Kara never once gave up or opted out of a chemo appointment.  The family endured alongside her as she shed weight, hair and tears; yet her hope in the Lord never wavered.  Spring of 2015, as Kara had been receiving chemo for over 13 months, an exploratory surgery was ordered to determine her abdominal pain.  Though the surgery went successfully, Kara never fully recovered from infection and her body being wrought with fatigue.  Our family was in denial that our very own hero was receiving palliative care.  Following an unfortunate string of events in early June, Kara communicated her desire for quality of life and chose to breath on her own.  On June 8th, 2015, she soared on eagles wings, and breathed freely at last.

Kara is survived by her husband Brad, and her most proud accomplishment, her son, Nash.  Kara loved her “Harley boy” dog who crossed the Rainbow Bridge to meet sis in Summer 2016.  Parents, Rhonda and Adam, and Ron and Jennifer, miss her daily, along with her siblings Ryan, Reed, Taylor, Rachel, and Richard.  Her grandparents Ron and Shirley, aunts and uncles, cousins, coworkers, and fellow runners, all know that this earthly world lost a good one – a really good one.  She brightened every room with a smile and a glow that friends have written poems and songs about.  We are committed to “passing it on” – a favorite hymn of hers.  Thank you for joining us to share her glow.

A round little face with a turned up nose,
Little pink cheeks like the splash of a rose,
Dimples and rolls from her head to her toes,
Who will she look like, nobody knows.

She grows oh so quickly from toddler to teen,
A delight to behold all the years in between.
A young lady now with the grace of a queen,
Her zest for life is oh so keen.

Soon she becomes a wife, and then a mother,
This career she fits best, like no other.
Sharing her smile and those baby blues,
Her timing for life is not what she would choose.

Though cancer chose her, she courageously fought
Not quite the attention she so eagerly sought.
But held her head high through the pain and the tears,
Then soared to Heaven on eagle wings, after 39 years.

Her glow continues as we share it each day
Pass it on…live, laugh, love, and pray.
I loved her then as I love her still,
To be called her mother was my greatest thrill.

Happy Birthday, I love and miss you Kara Lyn.

“Soar”, written for Kara, by her brother, Ryan.

How can one smile such sweet smiles,
When one is so saddened by sorrows for miles,
How can You smile the same smiles,
When life brings you lots and lots of tears,

I wondered for so long,
What reason you had to smile that long,
To keep smiling though troubles come,
And still remain sweet and silently overcome,

It’s such a mystery to me,
Your smiles from heaven with glee,
I adore and admire thee,
I’d love you to smile those smiles at me,

I feel happy when I see you smile,
Even if I’m sad and lonely,
Your smiles bring me somewhere,
I don’t even know where,

But it was you,
You gave me the reason to smile,
To smile with no reason,
To smile for a smile,

I guess life is just like that,
We need not a reason to smile,
For a smile is the reason itself,
To rejoice and open-heartedly give thanks,

I learned to smile because of you,
Because your smiles bring me joy when blue,
It proves how well and powerful,
A simple sweet smile can become so beautiful,

Smile for the sake of a smile,
Smile for the sake of happiness,
Smile for the sake of life,
Smile because of hope left in life,

Smile my friends,
Smile for me my Love,
Smile those same sweet smiles,
Smile so the world can be a peaceful dove…

For Kara, By Ethan Watts

sis and brad - best one

Kara and husband, Brad.


Kara with son, Nash.

sis and tay restaurant

Kara and sister, Taylor.


Kara and mom, Rhonda.

ice cream with sis

Kara with her husband and son, parents, and siblings.

kara and jeanna warrior

Kara and aunt, Jeanna at Warrior Dash 2012.

2013-12-25 21.33.26

Kara with grandpa Ron, and son Nash.

sis and dad wedding

Kara and dad, Ron on her wedding day.

james family tongue

Kara with her grandparents, mom, aunt, sister and cuz.

ry sis rich ohio

Kara with brothers, Ryan and Rich.

nash rach sis jen

Kara with her son Nash, sister Rachel, and mom Jen.

2014-04-20 12.03.31

Kara with her parents (Adam and Rhonda), siblings (Taylor and Reed), husband and son (Brad and Nash).

Family Cruise

Kara with family, cruising.

sis and nash

Kara and son, Nash.