Cornelia Thelda Baker, 97, died peacefully of natural causes Friday, May 26, in Oakland. She was born Jan. 2, 1920 to Ivey Forman Lewis and Agnes Webb Lewis in Newbern, Alabama, about 60 miles from Birmingham, Alabama. She graduated from the racially segregated African American high school, Frederick A. Douglass Mid-High School. She started working at age 15 and continued for 52 years until she retired.
She attended the Colored Agricultural and Normal University at age 17, later renamed Langston University in Oklahoma City. When she was 20, she eloped to Napoleon, Ohio marrying Robert Edwoods Baker of Bay City, Michigan. she attended Wayne University 1942-43, in Detroit Michigan, while working part time.
She later worked for more than a decade at the Wayne County Department of Social Welfare as a social case worker. She received her B.A. degree at Wayne University, and in 1957, she was admitted to graduate school to earn a Master Degree in Education. Her avocations included dancing, sewing, playing bridge and gardening.
Baker is survived by her daughter, Dr. Beverly Baker-Kelly; her granddaughters, Traci Allyce Kelly of Southern California (Brian J. Crump) and Kara Gisele Kelly (Rahsaan W. Thompson) of Oakland; her great-granddaughters, Keiley Jade Kelly Thompson; and Hayden Nia Kelly Thompson of Oakland, and many family members and friends. She will be interned at Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan, alongside her husband of 56 years.
Memorial Services will be held at Lake Park Residence, Oakland, Saturday, June 24, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and in Detroit, Michigan on Sunday, Aug. 27, location to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, send memorial donations to the African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C. at www.gofundme.com/corneliabaker or to 2983 Burdeck Drive, Oakland, California 94602.