Vernice Estelle Bekkelund Waldrep Baker
April 5, 1925 – January 12, 2011
Vernice Estelle Bekkelund Waldrep Baker, 85, of Waco, went to our Lord, Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at the VA Hospital in Temple following a short illness, with her family at her side. Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m., Monday, January 17, 2011 at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 800 North New Road, with Pastor Paul Krupicka officiating. Burial will follow at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Clifton. Visitation will be 3 to 5 p.m., Sunday, January 16, 2011 at the funeral home.
Vernice Estelle was born April 5, 1925 in Norse, Texas. She was the fifth of seven children born to Simon and Gina Smith Bekkelund. On May 10, 1925, Vernice was claimed by God and marked with the cross of Christ for all eternity in the waters of Holy Baptism. This service of Baptism took place at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Norse. At a very young age, Vernice and her family moved from the Norse community to Clifton where her father farmed. When her mother, Gina died, Simon refused to let his six surviving children be split up. He hired a housekeeper, Lillie Mae, to manage the household and care for his children. He later married Lillie Mae, Making her Vernice's stepmother. Growing up, Vernice attended the Clifton schools and was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church. She confirmed her faith in her Lord Jesus at Trinity Lutheran on June 14, 1939. At the age of seventeen, Vernice moved to the Heights Community in Houston to live with her uncle and cousin. While living there, she graduated from high school. When her uncle died, Vernice did not want to move back to Clifton. Instead she joined the United States Coast Guard during World War II. In the Coast Guard, Vernice was stationed in New York City where she would restock military ships that had come into the port. She also worked as a welder and riveter, making necessary repairs on the ships. Vernice was honorably discharged as a disabled veteran because of hearing loss due to a gun discharging next to her ear. After returning to Houston from her service in New York, Vernice met Clyde Waldrep, whom she married in 1946. To this marriage, two children, Modina and Bruce were born. Vernice and Clyde made their home in Waco, where Vernice attended Baylor University, majoring in education. One semester short of graduating, Vernice quit school and went to work as the Glass Plant in Waco, where she was a Production Crew Leader among many other jobs. She retired from the Glass plant in 1988 after thirty seven years of service. In 1967, Clyde was taken from Vernice by death. She lived as a widow for three years before meeting and marrying James Baker, a cook at Little John's Restaurant on LaSalle in Waco. They were married for twenty three years before James was tragically killed in a house fire.
Vernice upon retirement, began her second career, that of volunteering and caring for others. Vernice loved to clown, and so "Bakery The Clown" was created. Bakery made many appearances at all the Nursing Homes in and around Waco. Bakery also was a regular at VFWs and VA Hospitals. As Vernice once said, those who are in Nursing Homes and hospitals need someone to simply bring some joy to them. So Vernice and her sister Hilma took up this ministry. Vernice would be Bakery The Clown, Hilma would make a cake, and there would be a party. The two were an inseparable team bringing much joy to many people. Vernice also volunteered at Caritas, worked with Meals-on-Wheels through St. Matthew Lutheran Church, and helped with the Feast of Sharing sponsored by HEB. Vernice was a part of the Volunteer Services for the VA Hospital in Temple, and was recognized for her many hours of volunteer service in and through the VFW with the Spirit of American Award, and award that has only been given to fifty people that year.
Vernice was a member of St. Matthew Lutheran Church, participating in many of the Women's activities, but enjoying most of all doing children's sermons as Bakery The Clown during worship. She was a member of the Honor Guard for the Coast Guard and an active member of the VFW. Vernice was also a lifetime member of the Eastern Star, holding offices on the local, county, and state levels. She was an animal lover, especially cats and horses. But most of all, she loved her family, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Vernice was preceded in death by her parents, Simon and Gina Bekkelund; stepmother, Lillie Mae Bekkelund; husbands, Clyde W. Waldrep and James L. Baker; son, Bruce Waldrep; brothers, Gordon Bekkelund, Ervin Bekkelund, and Helmer Bekkelund; and sister, Hilma Bekkelund.
Those left behind to cherish Vernice's memory are her daughter, Modina Waldrep Atkins, of Waco; stepdaughters, Brenda Newton, of Pine Bluff, AR, and Betty Perez, of Cedar Park; stepson, Jimmy Baker, of AR; daughter-in-law, Joy Lehrman Waldrep, of Tyler; brother, Cecil Bekkelund and wife, Bobbie, of Clifton; sister, Louise Bekkelund Lane, of Waco; grandsons, Eric Scott Klecka and Fabian "Trey" Klecka and wife, Misty, all of Waco; granddaughters, Sasha Waldrep Bynum and husband, Paul, and Shawna Waldrep-Olson and husband, William, all of Tyler; 11 great grandchildren; and extended grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
Pallbearers will be Buddy Frank Bekkelund, Johnny Wayne Bekkelund, Terry Bekkelund, Jerrod Gunter, Justin Gunter, and Brandon McCall.
In lieu of flowers the family has asked that anyone wishing to show their respect, to make memorial contributions to St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 800 North New Road, Waco, Texas, 76710, the local Veterans of Foreign War Post, or the Disabled American veterans Association in care of Vernice Baker.
Arrangements under the direction of Connally-Compton Funeral Directors, Waco, TX.