Karen was born to Juanita (Jo) Belleville Genseal and James Franklin Genseal (Frank) on November 16, 1940, in Astoria, Illinois. She was the third child born to Jo and Frank. A brother, John, was the first-born and then the middle child, Phyllis. Karen always stated that she had a normal family life growing up. Her father, Frank, was a seed salesman and she always recalled the joy of the simple and naïve life in the small Midwestern town.
Lionel (Bud) Joseph Carpenter was born in Cook, Minnesota in July 1917 to Nazaire and Josephine Carpentier. He married Thelma Sandland in November, 1940 in Grygla, MN. A part of the Greatest Generation, Bud served as a Metalsmith in the U.S. Navy during WWII. During the war they lived in St. Augustine, FL where they survived a hurricane. After the war they settled in Minneapolis. He took a second job to earn the down payment on their first home located in Crystal, MN in 1951.