Margaret Miller Baker
83 Years Old

February 1, 1918 to June 11, 2001

My mother, Margaret Miller Baker was a teacher, author and poet. Her favorite art form was the short story and she enjoyed crafting stories of strong women drawn from her own experiences in life. In 1977, her book of short stories, Four Plucked from the Orchard, was published by Lanthorne Press. Her poetry also draws from her varied life experiences and the reader is drawn to the emotional content of her subjects through skilled rhythm, meter and rhyme. She didn’t write out of a desire to make money, but purely for the pleasure of working out a good short story or expressing life’s difficulties and pleasures within a poem.

She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1967 and at the age of 49 began teaching high school English at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon. Although she was valedictorian of her high school class in 1935, she was unable to further her education at that time due to her family’s financial situation during the Great Depression when they lost their once prosperous farm in Eugene and moved to Drain. After high school she moved to Portland where she worked as a nursemaid for a well known Portland family and for five years sent money home to her struggling family. She married in 1940, raising three of her own children as well as four step-children from her second marriage.
After her death, her memories were published in a book of short stories and poems titled, Fly, Fly They Must. Also I have published her memoirs, Memoirs and Writing, Margaret Miller Baker. She wrote a series of children’s stories for her granddaughter that have been compiled into a book called, Cycle Kitty Stories.
She was an extraordinary woman not only because of her talent in writing and teaching but because in spite of the many difficulties she faced in her own life—poverty, divorce, burn victim, caring for her spouse with Alzheimer’s and ultimately losing her vision and mobility due to a stroke—she always maintained a love of learning and strove to help others in her community. After leaving her full-time teacher’s position at Marshfield High School, she taught home-bound students who were too injured and incapacitated to attend school. Later she tutored English to Second Language students at Mt. Hood Community College.
Margaret Baker was a mentor to so many of her friends and students. She was a prolific writer of letters and corresponded with many family members and friends including a wide correspondence with people in her 1918 Club, a club for people born in 1918. She cared deeply for people and always extended a helping hand to those in need. The word heroine embodies the qualities of leadership, strength, courage and bravery. My remarkable mother had all of these attributes and I am grateful she left us with a wealth of memories in her stories and poems. ”

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE MURDER

Margaret Baker was an innocent victim in a domestic violence confrontation. In her foster care home in White Salmon, Washington, her caregiver’s boyfriend, Daniel Swanson, broke into the foster home, held 83 year old Margaret Baker hostage in an effort to get to his girlfriend who was the caregiver for Margaret Baker. When the caregiver would not come out of hiding in another bedroom, he pulled Margaret Baker, who was blind and partially paralyzed out of bed and drug her down the hall. He threatened and then shot her in the back killing her. He later turned the gun on himself with a fatal wound to his head. A lawsuit was brought against the Klickitat County Police Department for not responding properly to an earlier incident where the caregiver had made a complaint against Daniel Swanson. He had kidnapped her, wrapped a chain around her neck and held her against her aganist her will and threatened to kill her. After she escaped from that and reported what had happened, Daniel Swanson was not arrested. He was a repeat offender and had served time in jail for a previous kidnapping and threatening the life of another person several years prior to this event. The wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Margaret Baker was never brought to trial but a monetary settlement was made out of court.

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Margaret Miller Baker