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Friday, January 19, 2018

Clara T. Baker

 Clara T. Baker left her earthly family to be with our Lord on July 7, 2017, just a month shy of her 87th birthday.  Her mother Rosina Treftz Schumacher’s record setting 100 years is still intact.  She joins her father Christian Treftz, beloved brothers Gust, Sam, Hank, Gordon and Elmer and sisters Emily and Joan for a great big celebration at the choicest fishing hole in heaven.  

Clara was born in Roundtown as her husband  Eddy likes to call it—Circle, Mont.   Her parents moved the family to a small farm outside of Richey when she was a wee girl. Work was a central part of who Clara was.  Among her first “jobs” were picking potato bugs off the potato plants on the farm for a penny a piece and herding sheep with her sister Helen astride Buster, a noble steed. The sheep frequently wandered untended, but rattlesnakes feared them! In order to go to high school, Clara  lived in a shack in Richey (which, according to her, gave the place too much credit) and took care of her younger siblings. She played half court basketball in a long skirt with bloomers (because girls certainly weren’t up to a full court game.) After finishing high school, she married Pete Vine. Eleven years later, they welcomed a bouncing baby boy they named Michael Pete because Clara loved that ear worm (er song) Michael Row Your Boat Ashore. She helped guide and loved her step daughter Dianna. When Mike was five, she and Pete divorced. 

Single and free for the first time in her life, Clara worked for a bank and later for Vern Paulson’s accounting and insurance company in Glendive. Reportedly, her closet was full of fabulous shoes.  She was a dish and had a lot of dates. There was one special date though,—her sister Joan’s brother-in-law Eddy. They tripped the light fantastic at the Triangle Supper Club in Sidney with dinner which was always followed by dancing. Anyone who knows Eddy and Clara knows they both have twinkle toes when it comes to the waltz.  Eddy proposed and Clara gave him exactly the answer every guy dreads—“I’ll think about it.” Mike was in favor of the match. The wise-beyond-his-years 5 year old told her “Let’s marry Eddy.” Tragedy struck, and Clara had a burst artery. As she was being read the last rites, she called Eddy to her bedside and told him “yes.”  Her sister Martha McCloy made her wedding suit because she was too small for any clothing at the store.  Clara quit work, and she and Eddy moved to Sidney.  Eddy told Clara he couldn’t have kids, but surprise! surprise! They were expecting!  Mike was excited about the thought of a little baby, but there was a problem. His mom’s name was Baker, the new baby’s name was going to be Baker and even the cat’s name was Baker. So on a Monday in December, he wrote “BAKER” on the court forms and became a Baker too. His new little sister Martha (Marty) was born the same week on a Friday.   

Clara and Eddy moved to a farm/ranch 28 miles north of Terry. They worked side by side raising their family and caring for their land and animals. Clara made generous quantities of food and transported it in a dishtowel cozy to the fields, so Eddy didn’t have to leave the tractor. She disliked picnics as a result.  Far from her glamorous office days, Clara frequently sported overalls, a kerchief and overshoes as she and Eddy fed the livestock. Her one nod of pleasure to her old life in the city was a weekly trip to Don’s Beauty Shop for a weekly “hair bending” (as Eddy called it.) Eddy and Clara invited a handsome, sweet teenager to live in their home, so he could finish his senior year at Terry High School. Greg Laub holds the title of honorary son in both Clara’s and Eddy’s hearts.

In the mid 1980’s Clara and Eddy lost their battle to stay afloat on the ranch, and restarted their lives in Billings. Clara landed a job she loved at MDU. She worked there until she retired. She treasured her many friends from work and even 20 years after she retired still loved to regale her family and friends of her good old days at MDU.  

After she and Eddy retired, the adventures really got started. They dug out their address book, packed their beloved Bichon Frise Sammy in their Lincoln and set out for a grand tour of our amazing country visiting relatives and national landmarks along the way. Six thousand miles later they shared pictures and stories of all their adventures. Clara took up watercolor painting, and she often said it opened her eyes up to viewing nature and the world around her in a whole new way. Eddy and Clara bought a “tin shack,” as Clara called it, in Mesa, Ariz. in the Valley Palms Mobile Home Park.  They made many treasured friends and did everything—bike parades, “senior” prom, hamburger feeds, shuffleboard and pool tournaments.  Clara became a ferociously, competitive dominoes player.  Actually come to think of it, she was ferociously competitive at any game. She always played her competitive nature off with fake singsong questions and a little giggle: “What is the score?  Oh, I’m ahead?” “Hee! hee!” Clara and Eddy went on an Alaskan cruise with their children Mike and Marty, daughter-in-law Laura, and beloved grandson Talon. Laura and Clara routinely got into giggling fits which lead to quick trips to the restroom. Marty and their “favorite son-in-law” Dennis Rehbein, took them on a cruise through the Panama Canal. She loved the port of Costa Rica for its verdant landscape and friendly people. She and Eddy were delighted to learn about, and fell instantly in love, with their great-granddaughter Elyanna upon meeting her.  Clara loved to shop for special clothes for little Ely, choosing each outfit very carefully. Eddy and Clara celebrated their 50th anniversary last April with a “small gathering” of family and friends that filled their church like it was Christmas Eve.  

Clara was the teller and keeper of her family’s stories. Any time there was a family gathering, she told a story befitting the occasion.  She was a talented embroiderer. The back of one of her dishtowels looked as good as the front. And she usually added much more detail than the pattern called for. Clara loved fishing, quilting, painting with watercolors, watching scary movies with Mike, going on mother/daughter vacations with Marty, her family, God, Eddy, America and her friends—not necessarily in that order. Clara had a gift for making everyone feel special and loved. The Lutheran Church has been at the center of Eddy and Clara’s lives together.  Where ever they have lived, they have loved and served the Lord together with their church families with fervor. Clara is survived by Eddy—her partner, her best friend, and the love of her life; her beloved children Mike Baker and Marty Rehbein, daughter-in-law Laura Baker, son-in-law Dennis Rehbein; step daughter Dianna Massey and honorary son Greg Laub; grandson Talon Baker, and great granddaughter Ely; her sisters Martha McCloy and Helen Beres of Glendive; countless nieces and nephews, and a treasure trove of closely kept and loved friends.  

Funeral and burial services have taken place. She is interred at the Richey cemetery. 

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