In Loving Memory of


Nellie Irene Torrence Baker


October 24, 1899 ~ July 12, 1999





This page is dedicated to the memory of a very special lady, my grandmother, Nellie Baker.  She and my grandfather, Arend, raised me from the time I was a small baby.  They were 'Mom' and 'Dad' to me.  Widowed at the age of 56, Nellie never remarried.  She worked hard and provided a home for herself and me.  Her own mother died when she was just 13 years old and the responsibility of helping her father with the care of her younger siblings, a 9 year old brother and four little sisters, aged 7, 5, 3 and 9 months, fell to her.  Then, after raising her own 5 children, she took on the responsibility of raising a granddaughter.  She was the most selfless person I have ever known.  Always putting the needs of others before her own, ready to help in any way she could.  She was active in her church, the community and the VFW.  Her famous home made donuts were always a hit at bake sales, church socials and with her family.  She was loved and respected by all who knew her.  She enjoyed several hobbies, one of which was playing cards, especially bridge.  Her and my grandfather would frequently get together with their friends, on a Saturday evening to play cards.  When I was about 11 years old, she taught me how to play canasta.  I have wonderful memories of her and I spending winter evenings playing cards.  She belonged to a ladies bridge club that met one afternoon a month.  It was quite the social occasion.  The ladies would take turns hosting the club at their homes.  There was lots of visiting that went along with the card playing and everyone always had such a good time.  Coffee and dessert would be served at the end of the afternoon.  She crocheted little cup and saucers that held little paper cups for the party mints.  She loved to crochet, and today some of my most treasured items are doilies and tablecloths she made.  She could watch T.V. and crochet at the same time and never miss a stitch.  It always amazed me to watch her.  Her favorite T.V. program was the Laurence Welk Show.  She loved the music and the dancing.


After her retirement from her job as cook at the De Smet Hospital, she spent a few summers cooking for the kids and staff at Camp Placerville in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  The De Smet Congregational Church Women’s Fellowship made a donation to the camp in Nellie’s memory in 2000.  The camp matched the donation and a special quilt display case, with a plaque honoring her, was built with the funds.  She made many new friends during her time there and continued to correspond with many of them over the years.


In 1994 South Dakota Governor Walter D. Miller declared her birthday, October 24th, 1994 as Nellie Baker Day in the state of South Dakota.  This was done “in honor and recognition of her life of devotion to family and the betterment of her community, and her years of productive and outstanding citizenship of the state of South Dakota”. 


As her health began to fail her, and she could no longer live on her own, the difficult decision was made that she would have to give up her home of 50 years and go to live in a nursing home.  She faced it bravely and without complaining.  As time went on she lost her hearing and she lost her sight to glaucoma.  Even then, as her world became darker, and ever more silent, you never heard her complain.  On the morning of July 12, 1999, God took her Home peacefully in her sleep.  She is missed by all whose life she touched. 




  Portrait of Nellie  -  Age unknown

  Nellie and her sister Mabel  -  At the Baker farm north of De Smet about 1940

  Arend, Nellie and a nephew – Working in the field

  VFW Parade – Nellie is 3rd from right, front row, caring the flag.  Sorry, quality of newspaper clipping was poor.

  VFW Charter Member – Nellie being honored as the last living charter member of the De Smet VFW.




    1945 Great Grandpa Oscar Torrence, Grandma Nellie, Mom Alice, Barbara

     1970Great Grandma Nellie, Grandma Alice, Mom Barbara, Marceen and Brian

    1989 – Great-Great Grandma Nellie, Great Grandma Alice, Grandma Barb, Mom Marceen, Mindy


 Camp Placerville:


                       In the kitchen  -  1974

             Cooks Parade  - 1974 -Drumming on the pots and pans

             A motorcycle ride  -  1974

             Group picture  -  1979 – Nellie is 3rd from left in the front row








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