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1926 Helen 2024

Helen Jean Baker

December 1, 1926 — February 6, 2024

Silvis

Dr. Helen Jean Macgregor Baker passed away at the age of 97 on February 6, 2024, at Park Vista in East Moline, Illinois.  A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 18, 2024, at Esterdahl Mortuary & Crematory, Ltd., in Moline, Illinois. Visitation will be from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the funeral home.

Helen was born December 1, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois to Harry Macgregor, an accountant and artist, and Anita Stelzer Macgregor Glaser, a nurse. She moved with her mother to Mishicot, Wisconsin at the age of 2, and lived on her grandparents’ farm. In 1941 her mother married Walter Glaser and they moved to Neenah, Wisconsin, which is where Helen graduated from high school in 1944.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree from North Central College in 1948, her nursing certificate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1953, and her master’s degree in 1970 and doctorate in nursing education in 1984, both from Northern Illinois University.

Helen began her professional career at Wisconsin General Hospital in Madison in 1953, eventually becoming the head nurse in both neurosurgery and cancer research. While living in Madison, she was in the 44th general hospital ANC reserve from 1956 to 1967, advancing to the rank of major.

It was while working in neurosurgery in Madison that she met her husband, Dr. Neal Baker. Neal and Helen were married in 1966 in Madison, Wisconsin and quickly moved to the Fox Valley area of Illinois, where he was from. Helen’s mother moved with them. Although Helen and Neal divorced in 1974, he was in ill health for many years and she continued to provide care for him up until his death in 1992.

Upon moving to Fox Valley, Helen taught pediatrics at Copley Hospital and following that she was one of the two co-founders and creators of the nursing program at Waubonsee Community College. She would eventually become their director of nursing, and remained so until she retired in 1991. Creating and running the nursing program was an incredible achievement and one that benefited thousands of students and subsequently, their patients.

Helen and Neal’s daughter, Kim, was born in 1967. Kim became a large part of Helen’s life after Neal passed away and she retired from Waubonsee. They did a lot of traveling together, and Kim made sure Helen was included in as many things as possible throughout the rest of her life. Kim resides in the Illinois Quad Cities, where Helen moved in 2018. Kim’s friends quickly brought Helen into their circles, which she greatly cherished.

Helen was an active member of the Oswego Presbyterian Church for over 50 years, serving as a Stephen Minister, Parish Nurse, Elder, and a member of the choir. She served on numerous county and state boards of directors, committees, and councils related to senior services and public health. She continued to work following her retirement from Waubonsee College, first at Our Children’s Homestead and then Neighborhood Counseling Associates, up until she turned 90.

She enjoyed traveling and throughout her life was fortunate to visit many parts of the US, as well as many countries throughout the world. If you were to have asked her what her favorite trip was, she would have said Russia. A 2-week trip she took with her daughter, Kim, in 2006.

Helen loved animals. She had dogs as pets throughout most of her life, and she also loved to feed wildlife. She was known to have birds, cats, squirrels, raccoons, possums, and the occasional skunk hanging out in her backyard on a daily basis.

She also enjoyed watching sports. Having been born about two blocks from Wrigley Field and going to games with her dad as an infant, she became a Cubs fan. Same was true about the Packers, having grown up about 30 miles from Green Bay. But her real loves were her Wisconsin Badgers and men’s tennis. She was fortunate to attend all of these sports in person throughout her life, but the highlight was attending Wimbledon with Kim in 2010.

Helen is survived by her daughter Kim Baker Nickels of Silvis, Illinois as well as numerous cousins, extended family and friends across the country. Kim would like to thank all of you for your love and support throughout Helen’s life and during the weeks leading up to her passing. She would also like to thank the care teams at Park Vista and UnityPoint Hospice. And she asks that you raise a vodka gimlet and toast to Helen’s memory.

Memorials may be made to the Waubonsee Community College Foundation and will be placed into the Dr. Helen Baker and Kimberly Nickels Endowed Scholarship for Nursing.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Sunday, February 18, 2024

1:00 - 3:00 pm

Esterdahl Mortuary & Crematory

6601 38th Ave, Moline, IL 61265

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Memorial Service

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Starts at 3:00 pm

Esterdahl Mortuary & Crematory

6601 38th Ave, Moline, IL 61265

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