Edna Jean "EJ" Baker

October 11, 1948September 20, 2013
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Edna Jean “EJ” Baker, age 64, of Peoria, passed away Friday, September 20, 2013, at 1:05 a.m. at her residence.

She was born Monday, October 11, 1948, in Peoria to Louis and Gertrude Woelfle. She married Donald Baker on April 2, 1977, in Peoria. He survives along with two step-daughters: Tammy (Randy) Grieder of Morton, Donna (Jeremy) Fenison of Clinton, five step-grandchildren: Derek, Brittenelle, John, Emily, and Lydia, and one sister-in-law, Barb and Dale Bull of Germantown Hills.

Edna taught German, French, English and Latin at Peoria High School for 35 years. She was also an educator part time at Illinois Community College. She and her husband also tutored students for the ACT and SAT exams. She was also a Seamstress.

She was a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church.

She courageously fought breast cancer for the last four years.

Funeral services will be Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 10 a.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Visitation will be Monday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Davison-Fulton Woolsey-Wilton Funeral Home in Peoria. Additional visitation will be one hour prior to the services at the church.

Burial will be in Swan Lake Memory Gardens in Peoria.

Memorials may be made to Illinois Cancer Center on Rt. 91 or Redeemer Lutheran Church.

Please view Edna’s obituary at


  • Visitation Monday, September 23, 2013
  • Visitation Tuesday, September 24, 2013
  • Funeral Service Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Edna Jean "EJ" Baker

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Zach Jeremiah

November 18, 2013

Mrs. Baker was easily one of my favorite teachers ever, and will be sorely, sorely missed. My condolences to Mr. Baker and the whole family.

October 17, 2013

Mrs. Baker was a great tutor and a nice person. I will miss her. Josh whitworth

Alexandria Quinn

October 11, 2013

You will truly be missed Mrs. Baker

Missy Ricketts

October 8, 2013

I have been out of town. So sorry to hear about Edna.

Tricia Fox

October 3, 2013

Mrs. Baker was a wonderfully proud and dedicated educator. She will be missed by many.

October 1, 2013

Dear Baker Family, I was so sad to hear of Mrs. Bakers passing. Thoughts and prayers to all of you. Mr.Baker...I still miss you guys being up on Richwoods Blvd. I go by that house all the time and still think of you both and what wonderful people you truly are!!!! Rest in peace Mrs. Baker.
Cathy Marvin
Class of 1976

Daniel Bayless

September 30, 2013

Your constant smile and understanding will be greatly missed! Am looking forward to the day we can all see each other again!

Don Baker

September 29, 2013

Rest of eulogy (PART TWO)
If I wote a good story, Bob Leavitt would ask me if my wife helped me write it. We met many great officials over the years including John duncan with whom we became friends with along with his wife Judy. edna loved to read but she also loved sports including Bradley basketball. John would tell me that he could always tell when the game he was officiating was getting boring because he would see edna pick up her book and start reading. I couldn't keep her supplied with enough books. She almost had one read by the time we got home from a book store. She also loved doing cross word puzzles and Sudukos. She rarely asked for a clue. Maybe she knew I didn't have one. She would occasionally ask me for a musical group clue.
She loved music introducing me to symphonies. I introduced her to rock concerts. She had to teach me not to applaud after each movement during a symphony. This past year she was proud to be a member of the Peoria Municipal Band comission.
Although Edna never had any children of her own, she understood her step-daughter donna loved her as a mother and she felt honored. Donna sent her a dozen pink roses for her to enjoy the last week of her life and she was thankful for them. Her step daughter Tammy was there at her bedside when she died. Her other children were all the students she got to help over the years. Tributes continue to pour in from them.
Edna loved to travel, especially to Germany where she still has family. Now she has a special all-inclusive vacationpackage that beats anything that Sandals or any other travel agency can offer. She has the eternal life package.
But it was Edna's faith that got her through life. She loved her Lutheran faith. She enjoyed attending church. She knew and believed in God's grace. She knew God had a reason for each action that involved her. Too many nights she would be ill in the bathroom during the night and I would ask her if she was alright and too many times the answer was "No." I now know I no longer have to ask her if everything is OK.
She is in Heaven and I know everything couldn't be better. Please listen to Pastor Myers' message. And than you for being a part of our lives. Edna and Don Baker thank you very much for being there for us and for being our friends -- you are truely God's gift to us. You helped put that beautiful smile on edna's face that so many mentioned. Thanks again.
Don Baker (husband and friend of Edna)

Don Baker

September 28, 2013

This is the eulogy I wrote and gave for edna at her funeral last Tuesday that many have requested. Thanks for wanting to remember her
Thanks for being here to help us celebrate the life of edna Baker. we are here to rejoice in the eternal life she is now experiencing and in her fiath that has sustained her thoughout her life and recent difficult times.
I will do my best to keep my composure. If I lose it, please bear with me. Remember the first BILE verse many of you learned because it was only two words? "Jesus Wept!" I have his permission to do likewise. Edna wanted me to write and deliver this eulogy for her.
Earth was a better place because of the life of edna Baker. Those of you who knew her well when asked about her would offer such words as intelligent, talented, creative, opinionated (did I mention she was german?), stubborn (did I mention she was German?), caring, courageous, and religious among others. As one of her recent caregivers said to me on Thursday, "Every talent and blessing that God gave to her, she used it to benefit others."
Whether it was tutoring students for the ACT/SAT so that students could get into colleges of their choice or qualify for scholarship money that allowed that to happen, Edna was there to see that they met their goals. When we got calls about great scores, she knew God was using us to have a better life and that was part of our mission on Earth.
Whether it was a bridesmaid or a young lady going to Prom who need a last-second alteration, she was there with her sewing skills. Edna could sew and cross stitch with the best of them. She did at least two quilts most years for seniors here at Redeemer to take with them when they left for college. She made her own wedding dress and entered it into the Heart of Illinois and won the first prize Blue Ribbon for it. It's probably a good thing that she didn't enter her husband choice for a prize. She could cross stitch anything and her multiple wall hangings she made will have a pernament place in my house forever. She made most of her own clothes including the dress she recently made and is wearing here today by her choice. She charged very little to others for her gifted sewing. I told her ladies chained to sewing machines in Third World Countries made more than she was charging, but she would shrug those shoulders and say, I like to sew and help others."
Oh, she also believed in the motto that she who had the most fabric at the end wins. I think she did win. The minutes we got to a new town on vacation, she checked the local phone book for the area fabric and quilt shops. I have been in more fabric and quilt shops than any other man, I'm sure. Ever been in the quilt shop in Paradise, Michigan? She wants her sewing room to go to her best friend Linda Diamond. They even shar a birthday together.
Whether it was a student in her developmental reading or English class at Illinois Central College where she taught for five years that needed extra help to understand a concept, Edna was there.
Edna graduated from Columbia Grade School, Peoria High School (where she returned to teach German, English, French, and one Latin student for 34 years), Bradley University, and the University of Nebraska
She was the business advisor for the Opinion, the school newspaper, where she sold advertising so I could spend it on the editorial side. We were co=-advisors.
We met at Peoria high School where we had the same lunch period and she shared her homemade granola with me. We went to see the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" on our first date. Does that say anything about us?
Edna was definitely an over comer when it came to medical issues.
It was at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln where Edna first learned to deal with medical problems and adversity. during a blizzard there that shut down the university and food services, she got frost bite going out looking for food. That frost bitten foot was then always bigger than her other one making it difficult for her to find shoes that would fit both feet and she had a 5 1/2 shoe size on top of that. She learned to deal with it as she did with her many medical issues to come.
There was the herniated disc operation, there was the hysterectomy, there was the beginning of the breast cancer troubles in 2002. After two surgeries and the removal of 30-plus lymph nodes, she went through tough chemo and radiation. She lost her hai but never her dignity. It came back as she did. She started wearing a shorter cut after years of long black hair down to her waist. She had lymphodema which meant her one arm was always bigger and she couldn't have blood drawn from it or chemo administered in it so the other arm got all of the action. She was suppose to wear an arm wrap on her bigger arm. That didn't last long. The German stubbornness rose again.
God gave her seven years of remission and then it came back on her bladder four years ago and she has been battling the cancer ever since then with constant chemo three times a month.
This year she had a port put in because most of her veins had collapsed and it was hard for the nurses to administer chemo. Soon after that three blocj=kages were found caused by her cancer and she had a food stint put in which limited her food intake to pureed food if she followed doctors' orders. Paster Myers told her that pureed pizzan and beer might not be all that bad. She also had a illioscomy which changed her quality of life. She had to have her food stint cleaned after she refuses to limit her diet to pureed food. She said she would chew extra well. She had a tenderloin at Lou's Drive In the last day they were open this year. The German again. I finally told her that she didn't have to compete with JOB in the BIBLE but after reading JOB recently, I'm not so sure that she hasn't given him some competition. i am thankful she is no longer suffering.
She always said she was not going to allow her cancer to define who she was and it didn't until the very end when she was in Hospice and was ready to let go and was read to have Jesus grab her hand with his opening arms which she said she saw in her final days.
Edna loved Christmas. She put up four Christmas trees 99 percent by herself and decorated outside. She loved celebrating Christ's birth. When taking down the main tree last year, she looked at me and said, I hope this isn't the last time that I get to do this." This year she will have her best Christmas ever because she will be celebrating it with Jesus on his birthday. Being a German Lutheran she may be trying to introduce a Christmas tree if there isn't one already there.
But most of all Edna was my best friend and wife for the last 36 years. People didn't talk about Edna Baker or Don Baker. They talked about Don & Edna Baker. Knowing her feminist beliefs and that a man and woman are equal partners in a marriage, she is probably frowning because I didn't say Edna and Don baker. her spirit will live on with me. we have always been a team and she will be with me in spirit.
She was my partner at the disc jockey events we did together at wedding recpetions, school dances, anniversery parties. She could get all of the cd music cases to fit into our car trunk and I'm still trying to figure out how she did it. She would set up the lighting and arrange the music and then was my dinner partner. She would quickly make new friends at the dinner table and I would finally have to pull her away from her newfound friends so that she could help me look good. Those at the visitation (400 plus) and those looking around you today at the funeral service can see the friends edna so easily made.
When I worked at the Journal Star as a sports writer (Johnny Campos wrote about us in Thursday's edition of the JS on D2), she was with me. If we covered a basketball tournament, she would get the starting lineups and start keeping stats while I was writing a story on deadline.
(I will add the rest of the eulogy at PART Two later this weekend)

Becky (Shehan) Balkema

September 28, 2013

I heard about her passing while I was at redeemer last Sunday. I am so saddened by this news. Her passion for teaching German made learning it fun. So sorry for your loss Mr. Baker.