Mountains

Shirley Mae Baker

August 6, 1931 ~ January 3, 2022 (age 90)

Obituary

Thousand Oaks, CA

Shirley Mae (Riebeling) Baker , 90, of Thousand Oaks, died peacefully in her sleep on January 3, 2022 after a long battle with dementia/Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.  She will always be remembered for her warm smile and blue eyes.  Everyone who met her remarked about how Shirley’s smile was so warm and comforting. She was born August 6, 1931, in St. Louis, MO.

For most of her 90 years, Shirley was a stay-at-home mom, caring for her kids and grandkids.  Her passions were baking many delicious goodies for family and friends, especially at Christmas time.  She also loved crafting, sewing, and tinkering on her house – she painted the entire outside of her home, mostly by herself one summer!  She did everything she could to help the family financially so she could stay at home with the kids.  Shirley also loved to travel and had the opportunity to visit France, Italy, Germany, England/Wales (twice), Canada, Mexico; and in the States New York/Manhattan, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii, and many others.  Some of her favorite trips included visits to many of our National Parks, including Yosemite National Park, and Haleakala National Park in Hawaii.

Shirley attended Elliott Technical High School in St. Louis, MO where she graduated with a Secretarial certificate, including Gregg shorthand.  After graduation, she worked as a temp for several companies in the St. Louis area until she married and began having her children.  In 1969, the family moved to California for promises of orange groves and a better education for her kids.  In 1984, at the age of 53, Shirley found herself needing to get back into the workforce (things had changed quite a bit since 1962!) so she took some college courses, learned the computer, and found a job with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (National Park Service).  She started in word processing, but quickly worked her way up to being the secretary for the superintendent.  In her new position, she was responsible for taking the weekly meeting minutes and of course used her Gregg Shorthand to do so.  No one could read them but her!  These books are housed in the history section of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area library.

In her 15 years with the Park Service, Shirley found a whole new group of people to befriend and be a mother to - her baked goods became legendary.  She made many Retirement Cakes with the NPS Arrowhead and always brought goodies to celebrate everyone’s birthdays.  She even created a Park Service cookbook, paid for out of her own pocket.  She would often say her years with the Park Service were some of the best of her life.  After retirement, she continued volunteering in the Visitor Center until they moved, and she could no longer get to the new location. She wore her Park Service uniform proudly!

Shirley is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law Edward Baker and Kim Stedman Baker, and Steven Baker and Vickey Gauwitz Baker; daughter and son-in-law Teri Baker Toyama and Phil Toyama; 6 grandchildren (Jeremy (Michelle) Baker, Kyle (Lauren) Baker, May (Martin) Sands , Tim (Alyssa) Toyama, Corey (Julia) Baker, Sean (Emerald); 8 great-grandchildren (Genny, Molly, Caleb, Owen, Cameron, Riley, Lucy, and Evelyn); and numerous nieces and nephews.  The grandkids loved staying weekends at Gramma’s house where she would make her famous pancakes and they played in her large walk-in closet!  Her family meant the world to her and seeing her grandchildren and great-grandchildren brought her much joy throughout the years. She is preceded in death by her parents Eddie (Cotton) and Florence (Flo) Riebeling of St. Louis, MO; her brothers Charles (Ann) Riebeling of St. Louis, MO, and Tom Riebeling (Re) of Thousand Oaks; and sister Doris (Richard) Mehaffey of South Dakota.

The family will hold a celebration of life when it begins to warm up in March or April, 2022 at a location to be determined.

 

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