Donna Lou Baker (nee Johnson)
April 15, 1939 – October 19, 2019
Donna Lou Baker (nee Johnson) passed away October 19, 2019. She was 80 years “young” and left the world peacefully. She was born in Galesburg, Illinois. Her parents shared ownership of a farm, owned a gas station, and spent many years helping operate and then owning restaurants. The last restaurant was Victoria’s Coffee Shop in Santa Barbara, CA. Her parents Floyd and Mary Johnson raised up their sterling daughters, Donna Lou and Kay Violet in an atmosphere of love and acceptance. Donna was preceded in death by her husband Wayne of 33 years.
Donna could do many things with excellence… accounting, investing, gardening, and finding lots of lost socks. After college in Florida, Donna traveled to California with a carload of friends. She worked in accounting and then later went to work for Baker Consultants, a heating and air conditioning company owned and operated by her boss, Wayne Baker. They married December 20, 1970. Donna gave birth to a baby boy who she christened, Scott. During Scott’s early years, they spent time at a remote property of the desert outside of Yuma, Arizona.
Wayne and his father, built a rock house with a breathtaking view, lifting ton-heavy rocks and wooden beams. Donna and her mother in law, kept the men well fed. Donna did all the planning and preparation of supplies for that life in the middle of nowhere; she always had everything in order, food stowed, beds made and dinner a-cookin’. When Scott was a toddler, Wayne built the most unusual playpen- it looked like a lion cage hanging about four feet off the ground. Visitors marveled. This kept the baby away from chollas, snakes, scorpions and spiders and all manner of caution-inspiring desert creatures. This also kept mama smiling—her boy was safe—in her sight, she could chat with him, feed him and pass toys between the bars.
After settling in a routine in the rock house Donna and her husband hosted company parties. Donna began graciously receiving 40+ family friends and business associates. There was an annual father and sons’ weekend that was attended for years. They all thought that Wayne was the “bee’s knees”, so Donna must be the queen. She certainly was the queen of loyalty and service. A contingency of snowbirds from Wisconsin and Illinois began flocking annually, during the winter months. Donna worked hard and loved every minute. She never once complained, except about the mice in her kitchen. Wayne had a master carpenter build her a pest-proof island/storage/cabinet. Many a helper stood around the “love” cabinet while jolly men played cards at the big dining room table. Donna’s favorite card game was “Dirty to Your Neighbor”. She often won. As Scott grew older, he learned to fix things around the rock house—the 50’s fridge, the windmill over the well, the rudimentary commode—so Donna often said, if you’ve got a problem, “Ask Scotty”.
Wayne retired, sold the business in Hollywood and moved the family to Yuma, AZ. They bought a pecan grove and built a home. Donna’s parents bought a home right behind the grove. They hosted the 4-H kids for years in the orchard. They had pigs, horses, and Scotty raised champion rabbits. Donna helped harvest bushels of nuts. She joined the Pecan Grove Garden Club and found dear friends she enjoyed for the rest of her life. She was also a member of Navy League. Donna and Wayne were a happily married couple. Donna embraced Wayne’s two older children, Karla and Robert. As years rolled on, the kids got married and had kids of their own. That’s when Donna’s house became THE place to go. Grandpa Baker had a gruff side to him that grew gruffer every year and earned him the nickname, Papa Grizzly, but Donna was patient compassionate. She was often a confidant when family members needed to talk, be heard and not judged. She was a lifetime role model for being wise with money. She was always loyal and generous to each of us.
The Bakers’ of Yuma became a large extended family always welcoming relatives and friends, a gaggle of rug rats and ravenously hungry teenagers. Donna always welcomed the invasion. She diligently prepared for the onslaught of her dear ones. She filled the freezer with enchilada casseroles, shepherds pie and tortilla soup. Meantime Grandma Mary would bring over her luscious pies and there was a standing invitation for breakfast at her house, Victoria Café style. The Grizz saw all the love that Donna had and partook of it in his own way. He was putty in her hands. There was frozen yogurt served throughout the day with pit stops conveniently placed near an ice cream shop. At night they sat together on the back patio surrounded by Donna’s green plants and flowers and made ice cream in a wooden bucket.
What fine days they were, in spite of any troubles in life. Donna was eager to serve and to be a blessing. It made her so happy that Wayne and she had their family together in the desert. Donna let her kids sleep on the roof of the bunk house. Up there you could actually feel the stunning silence, see a midnight sky brilliant with stars, as if great handfuls of diamonds were sprinkled from heaven. Being on the roof was a privilege—you were so far from ordinary, modern life, there were no city lights to compete with the lights in the sky.
Donna lived in Queen Creek, AZ with her son, Scott for the last 5 years while Scott is the proprietor of “Ask Scotty”, an entrepreneurial enterprise specializing in audio systems, HD installations, and security systems, San Tan Valley, AZ.
The rock house is still there, but it will never be the same without Donna. Family and friends will start a different chapter in life, carrying in their hearts the many ways she blessed them.
Donna leaves a legacy of love to all her children Karla, Bob, and Scott, her sister, numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and adult cousins. She is dearly remembered by all those related to her by marriage and friendship. She was, and is, much loved.
A memorial service in celebration of Donna’s life and now her place with Jesus, will be held at Calvary Church, 19248 E. San Tan Blvd. Queen Creek, AZ 85142 at 1:00 P.M., on November 23, 2019. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to Crossroads Mission, 944 S. Arizona Ave., Yuma, AZ. 85364. (928)783-9362
Please sign the guestbook at www.legacy.com/obituaries/yumasun
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