Obituary: LaVerne Catherine Baker

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 18:22:16-04

On April 25, 2021, LaVerne Catherine Baker passed peacefully at the age of 101 years in her Belgrade, MT home with family present. She lived a long and wonderful life. Lovingly remembered as a soft spoken, dedicated wife, mother, homemaker, business partner, and confidant to her husband and family.

She was a person of faith and a lifelong member of the Lutheran Church. LaVerne enjoyed many activities such as knitting, sewing, camping, fishing, horseback, golfing, yachting, and RVing. LaVerne was born on November 19, 1919, in Braham, MN. Her parents, Otto and Hannah Swanson were of Swedish descent. The family lived in Braham during her infant and adolescent years. Hannah was a homemaker and Otto owned an automotive repair and sales business. The Great Depression was hard on the Swanson family and Otto's business struggled. During her seventeenth year, she moved to Davenport, WA. to live with her older sister, Pearl and her husband, Warren Harper where she finished her senior year of high school.

Shortly after graduation in the Spring of 1937, she was introduced to her future husband, Bill Baker by her oldest brother, Floyd. Floyd had been living and working in Grangeville ID at the time and was playing in a local band with Bill. After a brief courtship, they were married on November 20, 1937.

During their long and fulfilling marriage, they lived in several places throughout the Northwest, Alaska, and briefly in Hawaii. While living in the Seattle in the early 40's Bill worked at Boeing Aircraft and organized a swing band which performed in the Seattle/Tacoma area. She was the hat check girl, ticket taker and business manager.

When they moved back to the family ranch in Grangeville she raised a family, worked on the ranch and helped operate the family restaurant in town. In 1950 they sold the ranch and family restaurant. Together with Bill's father, they purchased a music business in Missoula, Montana. There she worked in sales, bookkeeping, and purchasing They would later go on to own and operate other successful businesses in Seattle, Petersburg, Alaska, and Belgrade. She always was a welcome contributor to the success of each. In their lifetime they established many friendships and were always active in community affairs.

After their retirement in 1976, they traveled extensively throughout Mexico in their RV. They loved the interaction between the local people and fellow travelers. In 1993 they briefly came out of retirement. They partnered with their son, Bill Baker, Jr to purchase the NAPA Auto Parts business in Belgrade, MT. After a few years of active participation, they once again retired and assumed a silent role in the business. They continued to travel until age intervened and forced them to stay close to home.

LaVerne was preceded in death by her husband of 73 years, Bill; parents, Otto and Hanna Swanson; brothers, Floyd and Paul; and sisters, Pearl Harper and Elaine Christensen. She is survived by her sister, VaLoise Beaulaurier of Federal Way, WA; daughter, Pamela Noel and son, Bill Baker Jr both from Belgrade, MT; grandsons, Todd C Noel of North Bend, WA, Colin Noel, Bothell WA, Bert Baker, Seattle, WA, and Cory Baker, Belgrade, MT; great grandchildren, Kylie Noel, Tyler York, Alex and Ashlyn Noel.

A family graveside service in Grangeville Idaho is planned in the Summer.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. []