Martha Jane Baker loved her work, family and volunteerism

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | 9:34 p.m. CDT; updated 7:00 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2014

COLUMBIA — Martha Jane Baker had a mordant sense of humor, despite being a reserved person, her son Lyman Baker recalled.

“The summer before I went into kindergarten, I had a fit with my mother and told her I was going to run away from home,” Lyman Baker said. “She took me into the kitchen, made me a sandwich, wrapped it up in a bandana, tied it on a stick, took me to the porch and said, ‘well, there’s the road, it’s time to see your fortune.’”

Martha Jane (Estes) Baker, formerly of Columbia, died July 6, 2014, at her home in Orlando, Fla. She was 93.

She was born February 8, 1921, in Warsaw to Samuel Richard and Leitha Haden Estes.

After moving to Columbia years later, Mrs. Baker attended Hickman High School and, skipping two grades, graduated at 16 in 1937.

“I remember she told me that when she went to college she wasn’t allowed to date because she was so young,” her daughter, Rebecca Baker, said.

Mrs. Baker was a graduate of Columbia College, formerly known as Christian College, and MU, receiving a B.A. in Arts and Sciences in 1941. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society and Delta Gamma sorority.

She married Allen Baker in 1941, and was a stay-at-home mother until she started working in the early 1960s.

“When I was in junior high, my siblings and I were more self-contained than when we were younger, so my mother could work outside the home without it being a detriment to us,” Rebecca Baker said.

Mrs. Baker worked as a secretary to the vice president of Stephens College and later as a co-owner of Baker-McClintic, an air conditioning and heating wholesale company. She retired in December 1981.

“My mother was a person who kept the family in contact with each other,” Rebecca Baker said. “She was the glue that held all of us together.”

Mrs. Baker served on the boards of the Boone County division of the American Heart Association and the foundation of the Missouri United Methodist Church. She also served as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri and at the Boone Hospital Center. She was a member of Altrusa Club of Columbia and the Missouri United Methodist Church.

Mrs. Baker was also a strong supporter of social justice, civil rights and civil liberties, Lyman Baker said.

“She was a very organized person,” Rebecca Baker said. “She was on top of things involving her family and her work and her civic activities.”

Mrs. Baker is survived by her son, Lyman Allen Baker, Jr., and his wife, Talat Rahman, of Orlando, Fla.; daughter, Rebecca Baker and her husband, Joseph Abraham, of Republic, Wash.; two granddaughters, Cynthia Baker and her husband, Brian Howard, of San Antonio, and Ellen Baker and her husband, Daniel Holt, of New York; a grandson, Nameer Baker, of Irvine, Calif.; and three great-granddaughters, Talia and Eva Howard, of San Antonio, and Rachel Baker-Holt, of New York.

Her husband and a son, Richard Matthews Baker, died earlier.

Memorial services will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Columbia College, 1001 Rogers St., Columbia, MO 65201; the Missouri Symphony Society, P.O. Box 841, Columbia, MO 65205; or the Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 S. Ninth Street, Columbia, MO 65201.

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