August 18, 2011 |

Baker: Army veteran, bookkeeper maintained humor

Friends and children of Denise Baker are planning a potluck memorial Saturday afternoon, said sister Barb Stigen.

Baker, 51, died of respiratory failure Saturday at Bartlett Regional Hospital. She had been ill several years.

  Pricilla Reeves said she would remember her older daughter as a giving, creative, caring woman who was a "great parent."

  Barb Stigen said her sister was very close to her son Nate of Haines, and "joined at the hip" to daughter Jeanette, whom she lived with and who had been her caregiver.

 "She was very funny and had a way of making this family smile."

  Baker was born in Vancouver, Wash. on Sept. 23, 1959, the first of Herb and Pricilla Reeves’ two daughters. Her father was in the automobile business and her mother was a homemaker.

She graduated from high school in Battleground,Wash. in 1977 and spent several years in the Army before returning home to Vancouver where she attended business school and earned a bookkeeping degree.

She married Ed Baker in California where he was stationed in the Army, and raised her son, their daughter, and his three sons on Army bases in Europe and the United States. "She was a huge advocate for those kids all over the world. That kept her very busy, and with Ed gone all the time she was totally involved in their well-being," Stigen said.

  Baker’s parents and sister and her family were living in Haines operating the former Grizzly Greg’s pizza parlor on Main Street in 1999 when Ed Baker was sent overseas again, and Denise and three of the children still in school came to Haines. "She fell in love with the town and the people and never left," her mother said.

  Stacie Turner met Baker through their daughters’ horses and the chores associated with them. "She was so supportive of Jeanette and would do anything for her horse, as she would for any of us at the barn. She was the first to lend a hand," Turner said.

  Baker worked at the Food Center grocery store, Grizzly Greg’s and Chilkoot Gardens and attended the Assembly of God Church until her health declined. "She had asthma as a young adult, she smoked, and it got worse and worse," her mother said.

  "My fondest memories are of working with Denise at Grizzly Greg’s when she’d just crack me up," Stigen said. "She kept her sense of humor right up until the end."

  Denise Baker is survived by children Nathanial and Jeanette Baker of Haines, Jake Baker of Washington, Tony Baker of Alabama and Michael Baker of Germany; sister Barb Stigen of Wasilla and parents Herb and Pricilla Reeves of Arizona.