AUBURN — Surrounded by her loving family, Joan Paula (Malloy) Baker of Auburn, and Reading, VT, died of lung cancer on January 15, 2021. Born in Boston on July 2, 1934 to Florence (Maffeo) Malloy and John Malloy, Joan grew up in Dorchester. She graduated from Notre Dame Academy and from Emmanuel College (1955). She married Charles Baker on September 3, 1956. Joan had six children: Robert (deceased), Charles III (Dorrie Pizzella), Angela (Rory MacKenzie), Janet (Richard Malabre), Deborah, and Bobbi; and seven grandchildren: Anthony Baker, Evan Baker, Matthew Brown (deceased), Philip Brown, Sam Malabre, Ian Malabre, and Sarah Baker. They all loved Joan deeply, as she did them.
In September 1956, Joan and Charlie moved to Illinois where she taught elementary school in White Heath and Charlie pursued doctoral studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana. Champaign Urbana was a segregated city and as a member of a mixed-race social group, Joan saw at first hand the systemic racism which continues to prevent the United States from reaching its full potential. Black Lives Always Mattered to Joan.
The Bakers arrived in Worcester in 1958 when Charlie received a position teaching French at the College of the Holy Cross. Once all the children were in school, Joan resumed her teaching career, working as a substitute in Auburn, Oxford, and Worcester. She also held several administrative positions: for CETA programs, at the French River Teaching Center, and as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Conference of the American Association of University Professors.
A life-long Democrat, Joan was a political activist. She delighted in doing all the tasks that are part of every municipal, statewide, and national election—knocking on doors, making phone calls, writing letters and emails, distributing and placing signs; she even helped out in other states. A former member of the Auburn Democratic Town Committee, Joan especially enjoyed participating in State Democratic Conventions. In 2007, the Town Committee presented Joan and Charlie The Democratic Lifetime Achievement Award. Kind, caring and a positive thinker, Joan Baker was always ahead of the curve. She was thrilled to be able to vote for Joseph Biden whose victory ended what she kept calling “our four year national nightmare.” She spent her last days believing that American democracy and the rule of law might yet be restored.
In 1986, Joan and Charlie purchased a family vacation home in Vermont. It has been the source of enjoyable weekends and entire summers. In a video, the grandchildren made of their memories of their grandmother, they all spoke of their summer activities with Joan: swimming, paddle boating, observing the cows, playing Chinese checkers and croquet, getting advice, watching movies, getting ice cream, picking blueberries, and seeing Joan spend hours on her knees in the garden weeding and cultivating vegetables and gorgeous flowers.
The family appreciates the generous care of VNA Hospice and especially that of principal nurse Paulette. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joan’s memory to VNA Hospice (www.vnacare.org/donors) or the charity of your choice. Because of the pandemic, funeral and burial services will be private. A memorial celebration of Joan’s life will be held when the pandemic lessens.