Susan Baker lived a life full of adventures.

“Her friends always joked that Susan had nine lives,” said Melinda Wells, a close friend of Baker’s since first grade.

Baker, who died Thursday, June 27, at the age of 75, traveled across the globe, inspired by her love for people and the sea.

Growing up in Corona del Mar on the coast of California, Baker was always one with the ocean. She loved all kinds of water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking.

Wells said the two friends were avid shell collectors. When they were little, Baker and Wells would stroll the beach for hours, searching for seashells to add to their collection.

Baker had seven boxes full of shells that she carried with her throughout her life as she moved across the country for work and family, Baker’s daughter Kiersa Toll said.

Over the years, Baker would return to her hometown often, enjoying the wild flowers and songbirds of the coastal region with Wells.

She loved nature and had a way with words, Wells said. Her emails to Wells are full of poetic imagery.

In one such email, Baker described a contemplative walk along a seaside bluff, writing about ocean currents blowing “cool breezes over the uppermost edges of the bluff, carrying with it the rich smells of the ocean and gathering into itself the breath of the sage and the leaf of the bush ... .”

From canoeing trips in the Ozarks, to taking photographs of meteor showers in the middle of nowhere, Baker had no fear of the wild.

“If I were ever to be in the wilderness, Susan will be the person you want with you,” Wells said.

As a young adult, Baker lived around the West Coast, spending time in San Francisco and Big Sur, before moving to Oregon to work as a fire tower watcher.

After meeting her ex-husband, she moved to the Midwest. Baker moved to Columbia after her separation with her husband, where she grew closer with her daughter and worked for MU as a lab manager.

Wells said Baker always wanted to see everything, particularly new places to snorkel. This led her to the shores of Southeast Asia.

Baker fell in love with tropical places she visited, such as Malaysia, Bali and Sumatra, Toll said.

She dreamed of island hopping and always intended to return to Southeast Asia during her retirement.

Toll finds peace in her mind knowing that her mother lived her life on the go.

A celebration of Susan’s life will be held Sunday, July 14, 2019, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the City of Refuge center, 7 E. Sexton Road, Columbia.

Memorial donations in memory of Susan can be made to the mid-Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association or City of Refuge.

  • General assignment reporter, Summer 2019. Studying Magazine Design. Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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