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Alumni Happenings -February 2007
Grand County High School


Karen Key Braggs, Class of 1982, is new flower shop owner

by Jeff Richards

Karen and Jim Braggs

Karen Key Braggs, 43, a member of the Grand County High School Class of 1982, recently realized her dream of owning her own small business when she and her husband Jim took over the reins of the flower shop at 29 East Center in Moab.

The newly named Floral Expressions has kept the Braggs family busy since they took over as owners Jan. 9. Karen has been honing her skills, applying her previous design training to putting together both simple and complex floral arrangements. She also has been busy taking and placing orders over the phone.

Meantime, Jim has been working on the computers and handling maintenance and deliveries. Both have been redecorating and spiffing up the shop to their liking.

The business, formerly known as the CC Flower Shop, was started at that location last year by Cathy Beeman and her daughter Cassy Swasey. When Beeman decided to sell the business so that she could devote more time to tending her grandbabies, Karen jumped at the opportunity.

“It was just something that happened,” says Karen. “[Cathy and I] just kinda talked about it around Christmas time, and everything fell into place quickly. A little over two weeks later, Jim and I were the new owners.”
In addition to flower arrangements of all varieties, the shop also sells greeting cards, baskets, balloons, and other gift items for all occasions. The shop has the same phone number it did before: 259-7088.
Since graduating from GCHS, Karen has worked in a variety of jobs around Moab, including running a motel for 11 years until 1996. More recently, she has been working for dentist Norman Barber at Red Rock Dental for the past couple of years. She says she still tries to go in the dentist’s office and help out a few hours a week, even though running the flower shop has been taking up much of her and Jim’s time -- typically 10 or 12 hours a day, six days a week.

“The first few days I was here, we had two funerals to do, and we were just swamped,” recalls Karen. But with the help of family members and friends, they were able to make all of the needed floral arrangements and complete the orders in time.

Karen has a stepson, Aaron, 31, and two sons, Tyler, 22, and Kelby 19. All three graduated from GCHS and played sports for the Red Devils. Kelby (Class of 2006) was a member of the 2005 2A state championship football team. Tyler and his wife Chrystal have a 9-month-old baby daughter, Brooklyn, who Karen and Jim love to spoil.

Karen Key 1982
Karen Key 1982

When asked how fun it is to be a grandmother, Karen exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, there’s not a word for it!”

“Grandkids are the interest you get for having children,” observed Karen, noting that Brooklyn is the seventh generation in her family to be born and raised in Moab.

Jim, who recently retired after a 35-year career with the National Park Service, says he doesn’t mind his new job delivering flowers at all. “It’s the best job in the world. Everyone loves getting flowers, so they are always thrilled to see me coming.”

Jim, a native of New Mexico, first met Karen at the Sportsman’s Lounge in 1987 and they were married in the fall of 1989. They lived in a few places around Moab over the years before moving out to the their current home in southern Spanish Valley in 2004.

The Braggs family has long been avid supporters of Red Devil sports and activities, including football, wrestling, soccer, and baseball, which their sons played.

Karen has many fond memories of her days at GCHS. Although she didn’t play sports, she was involved in the pep band and various other school activities and served for a time as the dress code monitor.
“I was the one who would go, ‘Your panties are hanging out of your skirt, sister,’” recalls Karen, adding with a laugh, “At least they had them on!”

Some of her more memorable teachers include “Mean Gene” Leonard, who still attends nearly every Red Devil sports event with his wife Martha, a longtime elementary school teacher; Al Heaton, who taught construction and wood shop; social studies teacher Donna Brownell, who retired in 2005; Val Maughan; Ron Pierce; and brothers Ray and Ron Olsen (Ron is a current member of the Grand County Board of Education). She also enjoyed being in Mr. Obid Hamblin’s class in junior high. “I was his teacher’s pet, and he still tells me every time he sees me, ‘You were my favorite,’” notes Karen.

“We had a great class,” says Karen. “We had a lot of fun.” She stays in touch with a number of her classmates, many of whom still live in the Moab area. One of her 1982 classmates was “Mr. GCHS” Todd Beeman, the husband of former flower shop owner Cathy. Karen, who has helped spearhead previous Class of ‘82 reunions, said she is looking forward to helping organize the group’s 25-year reunion later this summer.

Karen’s own family also has strong ties to Moab and GCHS. Her parents, Corky and JoAnn Key, still live in Moab, as do her brothers Kenny and Danny and their families. Her sister Tammy Taylor, lives on a ranch in nearby Fisher Valley. All four siblings graduated from GCHS, as have well-established roots in Grand County.

Although being a florist has been a lot of work, Karen says that she and Jim are enjoying the new challenge thus far. “We’re looking forward to serving the Moab area,” adds Karen.

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