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Sue Baker

The handsome young Pacific Theater veteran with thick, black curly locks was sitting silently on a Nashville-bound bus – ignoring everyone around him. So, what is a pretty, petite 18-year old girl to do – but to tie toilet paper bows into those curls? And, thus, began a love-affair between James Baker (“Baker” just “Baker”), a young Sharon, TN, farmer, and the Weakley County Farm Bureau secretary, don’t-call-me-Dorothy Sue Bennett, born the daughter of Richard and Gertrude Bennett on April 1, 1929, in Gardner, TN. This love affair lasted 74 years on Earth and now continues into eternity. Sue rejoined Baker in the cloud of God’s witnesses on Friday, December 1, 2023. They tied the matrimonial knot a few months after those toilet paper bows and left the farm for Memphis about a year later – with a single suitcase, little money, no jobs, and no place to sleep that night. Answering a room-for-rent ad in the local paper, the landlady knew she had accepted the right couple into her home when one of Sue’s first questions that late Saturday night was, “Where’s the nearest church?” Indeed, along with her husband, Sue’s faith was always the center of her being, leading her to life-long service to God and God’s church. For 68 years, until its closing in 2019, Sue was a true servant leader at Highland Heights United Methodist Church. Whether as a youth leader, feeding the neighborhood’s hungry, cleaning up communities after natural disasters, leading the Memphis Conference United Methodist Women in mission and outreach, or founding a sewing circle to make items for newborns, children, and cancer patients, she exemplified Christ’s command to feed his sheep. The congregation officially recognized Sue as its “Unsung Hero” for the work she had generously and humbly performed over the years. And the United Methodist Women named her “Woman of the Year” for her tireless labors for God’s children. Outside the Church, Sue sought out ways, over the decades, to make Memphis an even better place to live – by serving as founding member and Secretary of the Raleigh Community Council, volunteering with Baker, at the Orpheum, Theatre Memphis, and the Cannon Center for Performing Arts. Volunteering at the Wonders exhibits in the 1990’s gave her particular joy. However, Sue and Baker did not wait for the world’s wonders to come to Memphis. Usually with two children in tow and camping equipment packed on top of the car, they traveled to every state in the union – including virtually all the national parks. Later, their empty nest travels touched four continents. Starting as a part-time typist at US Electrical Motors (now a division of Emerson Electric Co.), Sue rose to Regional Sales Supervisor. Illustrative of the times, before promoting her, the Regional Manager surveyed all the salesmen (and they were all men) to see if they objected to having her – a woman – as their boss. The survey said – she became the first woman to rise to that level within the company. In later years, Sue became an assistant to Jerome Goldstein, a former Sam Sheinberg Co. executive, helping to manage his business affairs, including his commercial real estate investments. After the passing of Baker two years ago, Sue leaves her daughter and son-in-law, Darlene and Rob Williamson, her son and daughter-in-law, Rick and Jackie Baker, grandchildren Richard Williamson and his wife Allison, Susan Epperson and her husband, Mark, Jeanette Covel and her husband Daniel, and James Robert Baker and his fiancé, Andrea Richardson, as well as 5 great grandchildren – Ethan, Emory, Eliza, Baker and Henry. She also leaves her brother-in-law, Bobby Baker, and nephew Brian Baker. As Sue often said since Baker passed 2 years ago, “We had a good life.” Sue’s life of endless love and grace was celebrated at the Memorial Park Rotunda, 5668 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38119, on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, with visitation at 9 a.m. with service at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in Sue’s name are welcome to be sent to the Mid-South Food Bank, the Heifer International, or the Alzheimer’s Association.