David Baker Architects

1914-2008

Emilie Baker


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In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Emilie Baker Fund for the Environment at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, One South Harbor, Grand Haven, MI 49417.

To donate online, click here, then enter "Emilie Baker Fund for the Environment" in the field marked "Specific Fund."

Thank you for your contribution in memory of Emilie Baker. The fund supports enriching green space in her hometown area of Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysburg, Michigan.

Emilie at home with her last flower garden. Reini Moeser helped her with this.

My mom.

"If you have two loaves of bread, sell one and buy a lily."

Witty as ever, Emilie Baker, 93, of Spring Lake, Michigan, passed
away Friday, June 6, 2008.
 
She was born in Cleveland, Ohio on November 24, 1914, to John and
Anna Stepanek, who ran a bakery in a Czech neighborhood. After
attending Ohio State University, which she left following her father's
death, she married sculptor, ceramicist, bird photographer, and
businessman Bernard W. Baker in 1944. They made their home on Spring
Lake, and in the 1950s and 1960s also lived part-time in Tucson,
Arizona, where they befriended many local artists, such as painter Ted
DeGrazia. They lived in green solar homes designed and built by Mr. Baker.
 
Mrs. Baker was the beloved matriarch of her family and dear friend to
many. A passionate birder all her life, Mrs. Baker was a member of
the Michigan Audubon Society. She and her husband founded the Bernard
W. Baker Sanctuary, Calhoun County, Michigan, in 1941. It was
Michigan Audubon's first sanctuary and America's first sanctuary for
the Greater Sandhill Crane.
 

Emilie with the Ted and Marion de Grazia in Tucson in the 1950s.

Emilie in 1942.

Emilie made this plate with a painting of Ferdinand the bull, smelling flowers.

As well as being an avid environmentalist, Emilie Baker was deeply connected to all of the arts. Her father was an opera fan, and she followed him in that enthusiasm. She herself was a talented creator--a stellar knitter and seamstress and, in the 1950s, a ceramicist and abstract expressionist painter. Her innate aesthetic taste in design and visual art preempted defining trends of the 20th century.
 
She loved to travel, and in 1993 was able to visit her ancestral village in the Czech Republic. She also spent many winters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she was a great swimmer and had many friends. In her later years, she was a dedicated reader, book club member, gardener, and amateur nutritionist, as well as a member of Christ Community Church in Spring Lake.
 

Babi and my daughter Claire.

Emilie with her friends Penny Sherwood and Reini Moeser in 2002.

Emilie Baker is survived by one son, David Baker of San Francisco, and three grandchildren--Claire Anna Baker of Los Angeles, and John Vaclav Baker and Anne Brazil Baker of Austin, Texas--as well as Mrs. Baker's niece, Val Maresh, and special friend and Claire's mother, Joyce Jenkins. Emilie Baker was preceded in death by her parents, and in 1981, by her husband, Bernard W. Baker. Her equally witty younger sister, Mildred Maresh, of Solon, Ohio, unexpectedly passed away a few days before Mrs. Baker.

This is the last note my mom wrote to me, about a week before she died.

I gave my mom a Frank Gehry chair. Her neighbor in Fort Lauderdale worked for a doctor who had hired Gehry once, and she got Frank to sign this photo for Emilie. The heat and humidity in Florida caused the glue in the chair to fail, and it totally fell apart, but I glued it back together.

My mom and dad in 1980.

My mom.

Emilie at home with her last flower garden. Reini Moeser helped her with this.

Emilie with tomatoes.

I gave my mom a Frank Gehry chair. Her neighbor in Fort Lauderdale worked for a doctor who had hired Gehry once, and she got Frank to sign this photo for Emilie. The heat and humidity in Florida caused the glue in the chair to fail, and it totally fell apart, but I glued it back together.

Emilie with the Ted and Marion de Grazia in Tucson in the 1950s.

Emilie made this plate with a painting of Ferdinand the bull, smelling flowers.

Emilie and David in 1950.

Emilie and david.

Emilie and Claire, 6, in 1988.

Emilie, Claire, and John in Florida in the 1990s.

Emilie, david, John, and Annie.

Babi and my daughter Claire.

Emilie and Claire in 2005.

Emilie with Philip and Jeanne Brady. Philip's comments, "David, That picture was taken in March 1996 at Saguaro National Park West in Tucson. We were having a picnic with Penny and Barb Sherwood, Bob and Linda and Erika. If I remember correctly you and Claire had come to Tucson at that time also. I also enjoyed looking at the other pictures. We always enjoyed Mildred when she came to visit. Philip"

Emilie with her friends Penny Sherwood and Reini Moeser in 2002.

Emilie with her younger sister Mildred and Val, Mil's daughter.

Emilie's old friends Anne and Hans visiting her in Florida.

Emilie's formal baby picture.

Emilie in 1928 when she was about 13 years old.

Emilie in the 1930s.

Emilie in the 1940s.

Emilie in the 1940s.

Emilie in the 1940s.

Emilie in the 1940s.

Emilie in the 1940s.

Emilie in 1942.

Emilie and English in the 1940s.

Emilie and English in 1948. This was taken on the patio of the rammed earth passive solar house my parents built that year in the Catalina foothill area of Tucson. My mom made Bernard add a heater.

Emilie in the 1960s.

Emilie in 1966 at Spring Lake house.

Emilie and Bernard shortly after they were married in 1944.

Emilie and Bernard in 1949 Nogales, Mexico.

Emilie and Bernard in Tucson at Christmas in the 1950s.

Emilie and Bernard with their yappy poddle Jolie around 1980.

My mom and dad in 1980.

This is the last note my mom wrote to me, about a week before she died.