Shirley Eyler Baker was born in Clarion, Iowa on August 4, 1930. She was the only child of Caroline Lewis and John (Jack) Henry Eyler. Shirley’s father Jack was the founder and owner of the Eyler Funeral Home that served the small town of Clarion and it’s surrounding areas for over 30 years. Living in a funeral home for many years taught her to be fearless in the face of death!
Shirley loved her small hometown of Clarion and traveled there many times over the years. Peter, John and Amy fondly recalled family driving trips to Clarion where Grandpa Jack would fire up his 1927 Ford Model T and stuff the 3 kids for a drive around town to announce the arrival of Jack and Caroline’s beloved grandchildren.
As a cheerleader and drum major at Clarion High School, she set her collegiate sights on Drake University in Des Moines. During the summer of 1948, Shirley traveled to Mason City where she was crowned Queen of the North Iowa Band Festival by Meredith Willson who inspired and wrote the Tony Award winning Best Musical production of “The Music Man”! The coronation by Mr. Willson was one of best memories of her life.
Shirley was also crowned Homecoming Queen at Drake University in the fall of 1951. She liked to joke that the Des Moines Register headline read “Queen Wins on Third Try” when she finally wore the the crown in her senior year!
Following graduation from Drake in 1952, Shirley decided against a career in teaching and instead went to Chicago, to work as a stewardess for United Airlines. She transferred to Denver a few years later, where she met and married Ed Baker. They remained in Denver to raise their three children, Peter, John and Amy.
During her time as a wife and mother, she became involved in Planned Parenthood and the Botanic Gardens. Of course, she was the predecessor to “soccer mom.” Over the years, she continued to foster her love for music, ultimately joining the Denver Concert Band and several recorder groups. She loved to play the piano during Christmas so the family could belt out carols in perfect disharmony! She learned to play tennis in her 40s and continued to play well into her 70’s with her good buddies.
Bridge was a big part of her life as she got older, as it helped her to remain connected with many of her good friends. She loved to go out to lunch with her friends or family. She was fortunate to be close to her children and grandchildren to cheer them on in their many endeavors.
Her son Peter and parents Jack and Caroline preceded her death.
We invite you to share a memory with Shirley’s family.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Shirley Baker, please visit our floral store.