Vernice Estelle Waldrep Bekkelund Baker

April 5, 1925January 12, 2011

Vernice Estelle Bekkelund Waldrep Baker April 5, 1925 – January 12, 2011

Vernice Estelle Bekkelund Waldrep Baker, 85, of Waco, went to our Lord, Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at the VA Hospital in Temple following a short illness, with her family at her side. Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m., Monday, January 17, 2011 at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 800 North New Road, with Pastor Paul Krupicka officiating. Burial will follow at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Clifton. Visitation will be 3 to 5 p.m., Sunday, January 16, 2011 at the funeral home. Vernice Estelle was born April 5, 1925 in Norse, Texas. She was the fifth of seven children born to Simon and Gina Smith Bekkelund. On May 10, 1925, Vernice was claimed by God and marked with the cross of Christ for all eternity in the waters of Holy Baptism. This service of Baptism took place at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Norse. At a very young age, Vernice and her family moved from the Norse community to Clifton where her father farmed. When her mother, Gina died, Simon refused to let his six surviving children be split up. He hired a housekeeper, Lillie Mae, to manage the household and care for his children. He later married Lillie Mae, Making her Vernice’s stepmother. Growing up, Vernice attended the Clifton schools and was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church. She confirmed her faith in her Lord Jesus at Trinity Lutheran on June 14, 1939. At the age of seventeen, Vernice moved to the Heights Community in Houston to live with her uncle and cousin. While living there, she graduated from high school. When her uncle died, Vernice did not want to move back to Clifton. Instead she joined the United States Coast Guard during World War II. In the Coast Guard, Vernice was stationed in New York City where she would restock military ships that had come into the port. She also worked as a welder and riveter, making necessary repairs on the ships. Vernice was honorably discharged as a disabled veteran because of hearing loss due to a gun discharging next to her ear. After returning to Houston from her service in New York, Vernice met Clyde Waldrep, whom she married in 1946. To this marriage, two children, Modina and Bruce were born. Vernice and Clyde made their home in Waco, where Vernice attended Baylor University, majoring in education. One semester short of graduating, Vernice quit school and went to work as the Glass Plant in Waco, where she was a Production Crew Leader among many other jobs. She retired from the Glass plant in 1988 after thirty seven years of service. In 1967, Clyde was taken from Vernice by death. She lived as a widow for three years before meeting and marrying James Baker, a cook at Little John’s Restaurant on LaSalle in Waco. They were married for twenty three years before James was tragically killed in a house fire. Vernice upon retirement, began her second career, that of volunteering and caring for others. Vernice loved to clown, and so “Bakery The Clown” was created. Bakery made many appearances at all the Nursing Homes in and around Waco. Bakery also was a regular at VFWs and VA Hospitals. As Vernice once said, those who are in Nursing Homes and hospitals need someone to simply bring some joy to them. So Vernice and her sister Hilma took up this ministry. Vernice would be Bakery The Clown, Hilma would make a cake, and there would be a party. The two were an inseparable team bringing much joy to many people. Vernice also volunteered at Caritas, worked with Meals-on-Wheels through St. Matthew Lutheran Church, and helped with the Feast of Sharing sponsored by HEB. Vernice was a part of the Volunteer Services for the VA Hospital in Temple, and was recognized for her many hours of volunteer service in and through the VFW with the Spirit of American Award, and award that has only been given to fifty people that year. Vernice was a member of St. Matthew Lutheran Church, participating in many of the Women’s activities, but enjoying most of all doing children’s sermons as Bakery The Clown during worship. She was a member of the Honor Guard for the Coast Guard and an active member of the VFW. Vernice was also a lifetime member of the Eastern Star, holding offices on the local, county, and state levels. She was an animal lover, especially cats and horses. But most of all, she loved her family, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Vernice was preceded in death by her parents, Simon and Gina Bekkelund; stepmother, Lillie Mae Bekkelund; husbands, Clyde W. Waldrep and James L. Baker; son, Bruce Waldrep; brothers, Gordon Bekkelund, Ervin Bekkelund, and Helmer Bekkelund; and sister, Hilma Bekkelund. Those left behind to cherish Vernice’s memory are her daughter, Modina Waldrep Atkins, of Waco; stepdaughters, Brenda Newton, of Pine Bluff, AR, and Betty Perez, of Cedar Park; stepson, Jimmy Baker, of AR; daughter-in-law, Joy Lehrman Waldrep, of Tyler; brother, Cecil Bekkelund and wife, Bobbie, of Clifton; sister, Louise Bekkelund Lane, of Waco; grandsons, Eric Scott Klecka and Fabian “Trey” Klecka and wife, Misty, all of Waco; granddaughters, Sasha Waldrep Bynum and husband, Paul, and Shawna Waldrep-Olson and husband, William, all of Tyler; 11 great grandchildren; and extended grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. Pallbearers will be Buddy Frank Bekkelund, Johnny Wayne Bekkelund, Terry Bekkelund, Jerrod Gunter, Justin Gunter, and Brandon McCall. In lieu of flowers the family has asked that anyone wishing to show their respect, to make memorial contributions to St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 800 North New Road, Waco, Texas, 76710, the local Veterans of Foreign War Post, or the Disabled American veterans Association in care of Vernice Baker.

Arrangements under the direction of Connally-Compton Funeral Directors, Waco, TX.


  • Funeral Service Monday, January 17, 2011
  • Visitation Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vernice Estelle Waldrep Bekkelund Baker

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Donna Sawyer Berry

February 7, 2011

I was so sorry to hear of Aunt Vernice's passing. She was a central figure in my childhood. Our families spent time together camping, holidays and all kinds of activities at school, Scouts & Camp Fire Girls. I am so sorry we lost touch over the years. Modina, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Kenneth Moerbe

January 18, 2011

Dear Modina and Family,
I was so sorry to hear about Vernice's death last week. What a wonderful lady. It was a joy to serve as her pastor and then afterward when I was at Caritas of Waco, to encounter her numerous times in service opportunities in our community. She and Hilma were certainly a 'dynamic duo' when it came to bringing joy to people of all ages. May God continue to sustain you as you grieve her death, and as you rejoice in her victory. Peace, Kenneth Moerbe

Brandy Blanchard

January 17, 2011

If ever an angel walked on this earth it was Vernice "Mimi" and I know as long as I live I will never forget her and all that she did for me as well as the countless others that had the pleasure of knowing this truely remarkable and outstanding lady. I was blessed to have known her, Modina and the family since 1997 and my thoughts and prayers are with you always. My heart breaks bacause I cant be there with you all due to just having moved to Houston and starting a new job.
Love Always,

Brandy Blanchard

Tammy Hitchcock

January 17, 2011

Modina & Family I was so sorry to here about your Mother. Know that you are in our prayers. Tammy & Chuck Hitchcock

Bellmead OES

January 17, 2011

In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.

January 16, 2011

Modina,Vernice was very special to mt family. I knew that I liked her the first time I saw her. I'll always remember her sweet smile. We will miss her so.God bless you an keep you during sad and difficult time Jo Ann Holder McLennan 639 O.E.S.

January 16, 2011

Modina, We are so sorry for your loss. I have known Vernice for so many years and I can still see her smile. She taught me a lot when I started at the Glass Plant. You will miss her so much, but, remember she is with our Lord and Savior and she feels no more pain and suffering. God will help you through these troubled times if you just trust in Him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Your friends always. Love, JoAnn and Ronnie McAdams

Chris Holze

January 16, 2011

Vernice will always hold a special place in my heart. I've never known anyone that loved life as much as she did. I never heard her complain or say a negative thought about anyone or anybody. Her goal in life was to make you smile. I will miss her smiling face and interersting stories. Goodbye my friend, until we meet again.
Chris Holze
Cuttin' Up Hair Salon

January 15, 2011

I have not known Vernice very long but we were Eastern Star sisters. She will be so missed.
Sandy Christian

Christy Allen-Robinson

January 15, 2011

Mimi, the world wont be the same without your gorgeous smile and infectious laugh. My prayers and thoughts go out to the family, she was one special lady and will be missed.