It is with the deepest sadness we announce the accidental death of Barbara Jo Baker at her home in Laramie in late March.
Barbara grew up in Chicago. When she was in high school, she placed second in the Illinois State Gymnastic Balance Beam Competition, which was quite an achievement.
She moved to Laramie in the ’70s to attend the University of Wyoming. Afterward, she returned to Chicago to care for her grandparents, where she earned her Masters of Social Work degree from Loyola University. She completed her education to become a licensed clinical social worker. When things settled in Chicago, she returned to Laramie, the home of her heart.
Barbara never married or had children but was adopted by Teresa Nyquist and her children, Trisha and DJ. She was a mother/sister/friend and eventually Grandma Barb, to Donovan, Trisha’s son. She was there for Teresa’s children, to talk to, to get a hug and to celebrate the holidays. Barb gave the best hugs. She will be greatly missed by the family.
She touched many lives through her profession as a social worker including students at UW, staff and patients at Ivinson Memorial Hospital, the cancer center, child protection, the crisis center and Cathedral Home for Children.
She initiated a support group for Vietnam veterans in the 1980s, which had many positive rewards for those involved. She was especially committed to them and remained close friends with many military veterans through the years.
She took a special interest in Interfaith-Good Samaritan, a non-denominational group that assisted families and children. She would bring fresh items from Frank’s garden to them. This was very close to her heart.
She had exceptional emotional wisdom. All who knew Barbara were impressed by her capacity to empathize and offer support for matters of daily life and medical situations, including loss of family and health. She had a great sense of humor, including the theatre of the absurd, which describes so much of daily life.
She had numerous cats through all her years.
Their longevity was legend. She would take in strays and adopt their kittens. At times, it was difficult to know if the cats belonged to Barb or Barb belonged to the cats. She supported the Laramie Animal Welfare Society.
She loved her fresh-ground coffee and newspaper in the morning. She worked out daily, either running or going to the gym. She was very health conscious and into natural products. She would even read the labels on junk food for the best choice. She read, wrote poetry and liked the music of Michael Jackson. She loved the mountains and being outdoors. She hiked, cross-country skied and rode her bike. Barbara was very independent, strong willed and not afraid to get her hands dirty. Her remains have been cremated as she desired. Her real family in life and close friends will scatter her ashes, together with the ashes of her grandfather, Nathan Rosenfield, and those of her beloved cats. She wanted her ashes scattered over the landscape of Wyoming.
There will be a memorial service for her at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7 at Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home. Personal remembrances can be entered in the guestbook of the obituary section ofwww.montgomerystryker.com. Please send donations in lieu of flowers to Interfaith-Good Samaritan of Laramie or the Laramie Animal Welfare Society.