She was born in Chicago, IL, April 26, 1935, to Gardner Ayer and Mary Ann (Farmer) James.
She is survived by her loving husband of 59 years, David Allen Baker; five children: Bruce Baker-Harvey of Seattle, Linda (Michael) Plodwick of Middletown, NJ and Waupaca, Diane, Kevin, both of Waupaca, and Karen (Mark) Mathu of Whitefish Bay, WI; and ten grandchildren: Griffin and Hazel Baker-Harvey; Lauren, Lindsay, and Alyssa Plodwick; Virginia, Patricia, Peter, Lorraine, and David Mathu. She is also survived by her brother Jerry (Gail) James of Waupaca and Bonita Springs, FL, and her sister Margo (Jon) Holsteen of Waupaca and Barrington, IL. Ginny also leaves many beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Ginny grew up in Wilmette, IL where she graduated from New Trier High School. She was an accomplished athlete, noted for her synchronized swimming routines. She lettered in every sport available to females, from field hockey and softball to gymnastics. She attended Miami University, earning her degree in education. Following graduation, she taught Home Economics and English in an Oxford, OH area high school. A year after marrying Aug. 23, 1957, she gave up teaching to raise her family, the pride and joy of her life, and her truest and deepest passion. A neighbor once described Ginny as a person of “infectious gaiety.” Her legion of friends agree. Ginny was also a gifted designer. When the family returned to the Chicago suburbs, her design ideas were incorporated into a standard suburban tract house. With her modifications, the model quickly became the builder’s most popular seller. Her growing family returned to NJ, this time to Chatham. Having altered one house so successfully, Ginny designed the next family home to suit her family’s needs perfectly. Ginny could be serious about serious matters, but she also kept less important details in perspective. She disliked subtracting so she kept multiple checking accounts. That way she could avoid balancing her checkbook. She used one, then moved to another until the bank had time to clear the checks she had written. Her system worked for years. Her husband never knew about it until her kids spilled the beans. With five children, whose friends considered her “everybody’s Mom,” Ginny devoted countless hours volunteering at schools and scouts. As her nest began to empty, Ginny used her unaccustomed free time to volunteer at Summit’s Overlook Hospital and the Morristown Hospital retail shop, where the proceeds supported a shelter for battered women. A cancer survivor, she faced every challenge with unfaltering grace, including her husband’s paralyzing stroke and legal blindness, saying, “Growing old is not for wimps.” She never lost her fun-loving sense of humor, innate kindness, or unequaled empathy and compassion for others. A diamond is her fitting birthstone. Diamonds are bright, multifaceted; and at their core, diamonds are made of the toughest substance in the world. If you are ever lucky enough to find one, you want to hold on to it forever.
To honor Ginny’s longstanding wishes, her memorial was private. The Maple Crest Funeral Home of Waupaca is assisting the family with arrangements.