Jeannette Russell Baker, age 92, died peacefully on Wednesday, the 27th of February 2013, in Houston. She lived a full and glorious life, serving the Lord, her family, and many, many others.
Jeannette was born on the 8th of April 1920, in Beaumont, to Joe and Jeannette Russell. Shortly after her birth the family moved to Houston, where Jeannette attended Houston Public Schools including Lanier Junior High, and graduated from San Jacinto High School. She then went to the University of Texas, where she was a most outstanding student. She was a proud member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, where she served as President, and made many life long friends from all parts of Texas. She was intelligent as well as beautiful and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a member of Mortar Board. Additionally, she was chosen to be a Bluebonnet Belle.
She married Bert Dale Selman, who was killed in action in the Pacific during WWII. They had a daughter, Jeannette. After the war, she started dating Pete Baker (Rex Baker, Jr.) who was finishing up law school after his return from his naval service in WWII. She and Pete had known each other since nursery school days at South Main Baptist Church. They had been lifelong friends, attending the same schools, vacationing with their families in Boulder, Colorado and lo and behold, they married in 1947. They then had three more children, Bess, Ann and Rex III.
Jeannette and Pete were devoted to their beloved University of Texas. They felt very strongly about the importance of education, and accordingly, endowed a chair at the Law School and established numerous scholarships and several professorships, including one for the McDonald Observatory and the Economics Department. Jeannette was also a member of the Executive Committee for the Chancellor's Council.
Jeannette was a true woman of God and she loved her church, River Oaks Baptist Church, which she faithfully served from its beginning. She taught the Gleaner Class Sunday School for many years and served in every way possible. She and Pete were a driving force in the creation of River Oaks Baptist School, even to the point of providing living quarters in their garage apartment to the first principal, Miss Betty Baker (no relation). They were passionate in wanting to promote education in a Christian environment. She was also a member of the Houston Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club, serving as President , the Junior League of Houston, and River Oaks Country Club.
Jeannette and Pete traveled extensively, and she got the "good sport" award on more than one occasion on their journeys around the world. But their happiest times were the days spent in their beloved Estes Park home, "Baker's Acres", in Colorado. They loved being surrounded by their children, grandchildren and friends, delighting in the scenery, going on picnics, singing old campfire songs, driving on scary Trail Ridge Road and enjoying every goosebump. Her family will treasure those memories forever.
Jeannette is preceded in death by her parents, Joseph Holt and Jeannette Markle Russell; her brother, Joseph Holt Russell, Jr.; her son-in-law, Jack Greenwood Wise; and her beloved husband and best friend, Rex Gavin Baker Jr.
She is survived by her sister, Carolyn Russell Holmes; her sister-in law, Betty Baker Harris; her brother-in law, John Heflin Baker and his wife, Patty; and numerous nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her four children, Jeannette Masraff, Bess Wilson and her husband, Rob, Ann Wise, and Rex Baker, III and his wife, Cindi; and thirteen grandchildren, George Masraff and wife, Karen, Russell Masraff and wife, Julie, Markley Masraff Berg and husband, Travis, John Sharman Jr., Joe Sharman, Mary Catherine Sharman Sears and husband, Brad, Jennifer Wise Martinez and husband, Corby, Jackson Wise and wife, Lorraine, Katie Wise Stanton and husband, Bobby, Alison Wise Murphy and husband, Matt, Narlan Baker and wife, Jessica, Rex Baker IV and wife, Maria, and Catherine Baker. Her twenty great grandchildren are, Hannah, Elizabeth and Georgia Masraff, Maclane, Connor, and Carter Masraff, Baker, Cooper and Bess Berg, Will, Kate, Corby Jr. and Mary Pete Martinez, Jack and Charlie Wise, Locke and Sam Stanton, Mia and Ellie Murphy and Ava Baker.
Her family members give their collective thanks to God for allowing them to have such a wonderful, generous and loving mother, grandmother (Nana to all) and great grandmother. She will be missed, but more importantly, she will always be remembered. The family wishes to express their untold gratitude to her much loved caregivers, Florence Odizor and Elizabeth Tinubu, who gave above and beyond with their attention and devotion to "Nana." We also thank Peter Manry for his friendship and service to both Jeannette and Pete for so many years.
Her instructions for her obituary were to say: "If you knew her, then you didn't have to say it again." We are sorry Mother, but we had to say it anyway.
A memorial service is to be conducted at ten o'clock in the morning on Monday, the 4th of March, at River Oaks Baptist Church, 2300 Willowick Road in Houston, where Rev. Martus Miley, Pastor, is to officiate.
Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception at a venue to be announced during the service.
Prior to the service, the family will have gathered for a private interment at Forest Park Westheimer Cemetery in Houston.
In lieu of customary remembrances, and for those desiring, memorial contributions may be directed to River Oaks Baptist Church, 2300 Willowick Rd., Houston, TX, 77027; or to the charity of one's choice.