Sybil J. Baker, Miami, passed away on Dec. 21, 2009, at her home. She fought a long and brave war with cancer for fifteen years. She had just celebrated her ninety second birthday.
Sybil was born on Dec. 15, 1917, on the Cherokee allotted family farm east of old Bernice. Her parents were Roy and Sarah (Ballard) Wood. Education played a major part in Sybilís life. She began her education at the Echo Valley Country School, east of Bernice. In her third grade, the school closed and Sybil transferred to Bernice, where she graduated from high school in 1934. She continued her education at NEO A&M College, earning her Associates Degree. At the time she was given her teaching certificate and began her teaching career. In 1939, she graduated from N.S.U. in Tahlequah. She was baptized at a very young age and faithfully continued her devotion to God and the Baptist Church throughout her life.
Sybil began her teaching career in 1937, at the Curtis Country School, east of Grove. At Curtis, she was the janitor, teacher of grades 1-8 and the cook. Her salary was twenty-eight dollars a month. When Curtis closed, she transferred to the Grove Public Schools. Throughout her many years of teaching, she taught in the Fairland, Afton, and Grove school systems. After forty-three years of teaching, in 1980, she retired, but continued to tutor students throughout her life. The lives that Sybil touched in those forty-three years and the communities affected by those lives, is an extraordinary achievement. On Dec. 26, 1944, Sybil Wood married the one love of her life, Floyd Baker, in Fairland. Together the couple successfully owned and operated their farm near Monkey Island. The farm in now known as the Gureney Ranch. The couple were devoted to one another until Mr. Baker passed away on her birthday, Dec. 15, 1977. A year later, Sybil sold her farm and moved to Miami. In Miami, she moved her church membership to the Southern Hills Baptist Church, where she remained a faithful supporter until her death.
Sybil was active, fiercely independent and private person throughout her long life. She was very proud of her Cherokee heritage and belonged to various Native American organizations in Miami. She also enjoyed gardening. She always grew a large vegetable garden and the flowers she grew were the envy of her neighbors. She enjoyed traveling, shopping, reading, and staying busy. Until her last week, she never stopped being interested in life, learning new skills and acquiring new information. Until the last six months of her life, she remained alone, taking total care of herself and her home. It was a very difficult time for her when illness finally forced her to allow others to help her. Her strong will and determination will forever be a force that many of us will strive to achieve throughout our lives.
Sybil was preceded in death by her parents, husband; one sister, Neva Wood; one brother, Clint Wood; and one niece, Sharon Wood.
She is survived by one great nephew, Scott Wood, of Grove; one great niece, Terry Maloney, of Afton; one dear friend, Lynda Nichols and a host of other relatives and friends.
A visitation will be held at the Southern Hills Baptist Church from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 27.
Funeral services will be held at the Southern Hills Baptist Church in Miami at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 28. Reverend Dale Neal and Reverend Geoff Buffalo will officiate. Pallbearers will be the Deacons of her church, Russell Baker, Jim Montgomery, Marvin Grass, Dale Clapp, Rich McCullough, and Pepper Campbell. Mrs. Baker will be laid to rest next to her beloved husband, in the Olympus Cemetery, east of Grove.
Sybil may be remembered with gifts to the Southern Hills Baptist Church or the charity of your choice. She also wanted to acknowledge her gratitude to the nurses and caregivers of Heaven and Earth Hospice in Miami, for their care and concern, to Reverend Geoff Buffalo and Reverend Dale Neal, for their prayers and visits, Frieda Cantrell of the First National Bank for helping her arrange her final affairs and also to Dennis Watson, who was also a great help in that regard, to Scott, Terry, and Lynda for their love and support and to the friends and relatives who called or sent her cards during her illness.
Funeral Services are entrusted to Jim Thomas, Thomas Funeral Home, Welch.