Betty Jo Baker could tell you about her youth as a farm girl, picking cotton in the fields around Waco until her fingers bled. She could also tell you how, as a wife and mother, she would don fancy ball gowns to attend galas at the palace of an Asian president.
She died Saturday, February 15, in her sleep, at the age of 90. She leaves behind a legion of grieving family and friends, as well as many memories.
She was born October 01, 1929, the second of four children of Hugh W. (Buster) Cook and Leora Cagle Cook.
Raised in the Rock Creek-Patrick communities, Betty attended China Spring Schools and graduated from Waco High class of 1947 and Chicago Beauty College. She met Melvin E. (Mel) Baker at an activity at her church while she was in high school and they were married on Memorial Day, May 30, 1949, while Mel was on leave from the Marines. May of 2019 marked their 71st year together.
Betty worked many years as a cosmetologist until she decided to be a full-time mom. Mel was stationed at a dozen Veterans Administration facilities within the U.S. and Philippines. Betty looked forward to each relocation as an opportunity to meet more lifelong friends.
Wherever she and her family lived, Betty was active in the community. She was always involved with the church, usually teaching Sunday School or in some related office. She and Mel, with a handful of like-minded friends, were instrumental in starting new churches in North Dakota and Minnesota. She also served as an election judge, president of a neighborhood association, and program chair for the Lady’s Association at the Hamilton House. Betty was a Gray Lady of the American National Red Cross, Past Worthy Matron in the Order of the Eastern Star, a member of Merak Temple, Daughters of the Nile, Social Order of the Beauceant and Life Member of the VFW and DAV Auxiliaries. During Mel’s tenure as Potentate of Karem Shrine, Betty served as First Lady.
Above all, Betty loved her family and to entertain. Betty was an excellent bridge player and hosted many bridge parties at her home. She enjoyed feeding people: at Christmas or Thanksgiving anyone dropping by the house would be invited to partake in any number of desserts she had personally prepared. Her single-holiday record was nine pies and cakes. Her German Chocolate cakes were famous among friends, family and VA hospital staff.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, her three siblings, and two grandchildren.
Survivors include her husband, Melvin; four children, Melvin Jr. (Paula), Barry (Jodi), Brent (Judith) and Michele (Steve) Richardson; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Services will be held in the Mausoleum Chapel at Waco Memorial Park on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 3:00 pm. Visitation will begin one hour prior to service.
The family would like to extend their thanks for the care provided by the staff at Royal Manor over the last several years. Memorials to Shriners Hospital for Children, 815 Market St., Galveston, TX 77550-2725 or https://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/galveston/ways-to-give