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Lt. USN [Ret.] W.A.V.E.S Roberta "Ruth" Baker

February 3, 1922 - June 24, 2021

Roberta Ruth BakerRoberta Ruth BakerBorn on the ancestral Magness farm at Hopewell, Ruth was a proud 4th generation Oregonian & youngest of three daughters of William and Carrie [Magness] Baker. She grew up in Tillamook, OR; before the family moved to Corvallis, OR, and so Ruth could attend Oregon State College. Immediately following graduation in 1944, with a BS in Home Economics, Ruth enlisted in the Navy W.A.V.ES. She completed Basic Training in Bronx, NYC, and Aerographer’s Mate School at Lakehurst NJ. From 1945 to 1958, she served as an aerographer for Navy flights at Pensacola, FL and Sandpoint Naval Air Station, Seattle, WA, where she was promoted to Chief Aerographer’s Mate/Chief Petty Officer. She had numerous adventures in her early Navy days, including flying into the eye of a hurricane and piloting a plane in a pilot emergency! In 1958, she joined ‘the first class of 7 WAVES selected for promotion from enlisted to officer’. Her remaining tours were with the 13th Naval District Intelligence Office, Seattle; and then the office of the Chief of Naval Operations [NATO, SEATO, Top Secret Control] at the Pentagon. She retired in 1968.

Following her retirement, Ruth returned home to Oregon; living near family in Portland and then to Salem in 1976. She was well known and admired for her incredible sewing/tailoring skills and extra bedroom packed with multiple sewing machines, fabrics and notions! She loved the piano and rightfully proud of mother’s early 1900’s oak piano that she painstakingly restored. She took up Tole painting soon after moving to Salem and later learned acrylics. She was quite prolific and happily shared her work with family and friends. Every summer was busy with vegetable gardening, harvesting and preserving the foods she loved. Other lifelong interests were genealogy and walking in the footsteps of ancestors, photography and travel.

Having explored all 50 states and Canada by age 55, Ruth became an inveterate traveler visiting more than 28 countries on 5 continents and returned to some on multiple trips. She particularly appreciated the antiquities of China and the eastern Mediterranean countries from Egypt northward to Greece. A broken hip on her final road trip with her niece to Crater Lake in 2010, required a move to Regency Woodland assisted living facility and halted extensive trips.

Ruth is remembered for her love of meteorology and was considered the family weather guru/goddess. She loved family history, green thumb, her carpentry skills, volumes of travel photos/memorabilia and playing a wicked game of pinochle. Her apartment at Regency was filled with memorabilia from her travels and well-worn world maps that she loved to bring out and share memories of her various trips.

Ruth was pre-deceased by her parents, sisters and a grand-nephew. Survivors include nieces Carol Schroeder, Salem; Kathy Stuart, Canby; Jeanne Juhr, Long Beach, CA. and sons; nephew Larry Crook [Nonnie]and family, Seattle, WA.

Gravesides services with military honors are planned for Belcrest Memorial Cemetery, Monday, August 30th at 1:00pm.  Memorial donations may be made to a charity of choice.

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I have to say I never met Roberta Baker, but I was very touched by her life story told in this obituary.  I thank her for her years of WAVES service for our country.  What a beautiful life this woman has lived.  May her surviving family cherish her memories.