Bertha L. Baker
- July 5, 2022
Bertha Lee (nee Kelly) Baker was born October 29, 1929, in Tuskegee, Alabama to the late Mitchell Kelley and Lucille (nee Echols) Kelly -Tolbert. She was the third of seven children born to that union. Bertha graduated from Tuskegee Institute High School. Shortly after graduation, she married John Baker. Bertha had three children: Shirley Ann, Ernestine Brenda, and Carl Eugene.
She confessed Christ at an early age at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend B. Z. Jordan. She relocated to Cleveland, Ohio where several of her siblings and family members had moved.
Bertha became a member of the Mt. Hermon Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. R. L. Fuller, where she served in several auxiliaries. She loved being a member of the Messiah Chorus.
While sharing the home of her sister and brother-n-law at 1580 East 93rd Street, Bertha was the primary homemaker for her children, nieces, nephews, and any other family members who lived in that home, and there were many. She raised her children as a single parent, while attending classes at the Tri-C Adult Program. She was employed by Blue Cross / Blue Shield, where she worked for more than 25 years.
After purchasing her own home, she became the street club president of East 117th Street and worked diligently to ensure that neighbors and friends had places to live in the community. Bertha was an out-spoken advocate for the St. Mark Baptist Church and the surrounding community.
Bertha owned and managed several properties. While carrying out those responsibilities, she was known by her tenants as the ‘gun toting Mrs. Baker’ as she traveled throughout the city, even while conducting business at the courthouse. All the while using her newly acquired driving skills!
Bertha was known and loved by many people. If she felt you were wrong, she would let you know, then invite you to her dinner table for a meal.
After her brother Reverend Earnest Kelley was called to lead St. Mark Baptist Church, Bertha moved her membership. At St. Mark, she worked and served diligently as a member of the Mother’s Board, Pastor’s Aide, Trustee Board, Nurse’s Guild, Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible teacher, and later, Superintendent of the Sunday School.
Bertha’s love of cooking drew many people to her table. Fried chicken, collard and turnip greens, and hot water corn bread were her specialties. There was always plenty to eat whether there were two people or twenty. Her daughters’ birthdays always yielded a chocolate cake.
Bertha L. Baker went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. She was preceded in death by her son, Carl Baker, her sisters Cynthia Renee Kelley and Lula Pearl Hines, brothers Rev. Earnest Kelley, John Kelley, Clifford Kelley, and Mitchell Kelley.
Bertha leaves to cherish her memory, beloved daughters Shirley Baker, Ernestine Baker-Hall (Theodore); granddaughter Ashley Craig (Ronnie); special grands David Omar Harper and Christopher Harper; two sisters-in-law, Willie Mae Kelley, and Grace Kelley; her special daughter #3, Sarah A. Holland; a special cousin who is like a son, Walley Everett, her beloved St. Mark Baptist Church family, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.