MATTIE FRANCES MILLER BAKER
1932 to 2021
Full of life and full of years
Mattie Frances Miller Baker was full of life and full of years when she ascended to eternal life at age 89, on Friday, June 25th in Elizabethtown, KY. She passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by the love and prayers of her three adored “girls”, Debbie Baker, Sherry Berry, and Barbara Ann Jeter.
Mattie loved to play her guitar and sing the old hymns. Most everyday of her life—even on her worst days—she found time to laugh and serenade her family on the piano or violin. Even though Mattie loved school and did well, circumstances did not allow her to attend high school. Nevertheless, she taught herself and thought for herself. An avid reader, she kept abreast of world events and was respected for her intelligence and thoughtfulness. A realist, she was ultimately a positive person with great hope in the future.
Grew up rich during the Great Depression
One of four daughters of Myrtle and Lovell Miller, a farmer, Mattie came into the world on January 20, 1932, in Mt. Hebron, KY. She felt blessed to be part of the “greatest generation” and born during the Great Depression. There were no cars, running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing on her much-loved parents’ farm. Even though the girls grew up poor, they never saw it that way.
Looking back, Mattie always said she would not trade her upbringing for anything in the world. “Down in the country,” as she put it, she grew up rich, with lots of love, laughter, music, and farm fresh cooking. A big family in a small community with heaps of cousins, aunts and uncles was a recipe for good memories. It meant deep roots and strong values built on a foundation of Christian faith. She had a “big time” most all the time, even as she worked hard on the farm with her much-loved sisters, Maybelle Manger, Mary Nancy, and her younger sister Edna Cain. They bickered occasionally, like all sisters do, but remained close to the end.
Pretty is as pretty does
Most importantly, perhaps, Mattie learned right from wrong from her grandparents on both the Dennis and Miller side, as well as from her parents and her many cousins. She aimed to pass on what she learned to her children and to her children’s children. Her many maxims, repeated over and over, became legends: pretty is as pretty does; whatever you do, work at it with all your heart; live by the good book and the Golden Rule; your word is your bond; a handshake seals the deal; don’t take anything from the government, make it on your own; have a place for everything and put everything in its place; you can do whatever you put your mind to; don’t worry about anything; study long, study wrong; marriage is for life; honor your father and mother.
Mattie set an example of faithfulness, for better or worse, richer or poorer, and in sickness and in health. Her marriage to her “good guy” Johnny Baker lasted for over 50 years. Johnny treated his sweetheart, whom he called “Ms. Frances”, like a Queen. A stay-at-home mom during all her children’s formative years, she always had a home cooked supper on the table when Johnny returned from a hard day’s work. Her pies, biscuits and gravy, roast, and potato pancakes were the best you ever tasted.
A full partner with her husband
She was also a full partner with her husband in building a successful and profitable furniture business, Bi-Rite Furniture. It was a mainstay in Louisville, KY for 40 years. She also helped scout out and purchase many of their properties. Johnny trusted in his wife’s counsel and considered her his wisest advisor.
Mattie was known for her strong mind, strong opinions and strong will. Her “wit & grit” got her through many a trial and always seemed to turn gold. When their furniture store and all its contents burned down on Mattie’s birthday is just one example. They had no insurance in those days and were forced to start over again. Yet she looked back on the fire as a gift from God. From the ashes something much better was birthed, a new business model.
Some things are better “caught than taught,” she would say. The most important thing she would want her family and friends to catch from her was her faith. She believed deeply in Jesus Christ as her Savior and that the bible was trustworthy from cover to cover for wisdom and daily living. Every day should be enjoyed and lived to the Glory of God, and in the practice and power of prayer, she espoused. Each night she would pray the “Our Father” and intercede by name for her family members’ “earthly, physical, and spiritual needs.”
Her daughters and grandchildren interceded
During Mattie’s last days on earth, her three daughters demonstrated that they caught her practice of prayer as they earnestly interceded, right by her side, morning, noon, and night. Her children’s children showed they learned honor by traveling from near and far to visit and share their love during their grandmother’s final eight days.
Mattie was not perfect. She loved to smoke cigarettes, had a bit a temper, and could tell it like it is to anybody like nobody’s business. She had her irks and quirks and even eccentricities, but she was also a living example of the Proverbs 31 woman in scripture in many ways.
She was a wife of noble character; her husband had full confidence in her and lacked nothing of value; she brought him good and not harm all the days of her life; she worked hard and vigorously, often getting up while it was still dark; she provided food for her family; she considered land and purchased it; she saw that her trading was profitable; her arms were strong for her tasks; she was generous with others including the poor; she was always a fashion plate dressing her best; she was clothed in strength and dignity; she could laugh at the days to come; she speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction on her tongue; she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (Proverbs 31: 28-31)
Bring her praise
Her children arise and called Mattie Francis blessed from her first breath until her last. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. Give Mattie Francis Baker the reward she has earned and let her good works bring her praise at the City Gate.
We pray that anything foolish sowed in her youth or life would yield a failed crop but everything good & Godly that Mattie Frances Miller Baker sowed be blest such that she leaves a positive legacy with a 100-fold return in her children and her children’s children lives up to a thousand generations
Predeceased by her husband Johnny, and two sisters, Mattie is survived by daughters, Debbie Baker, Sherry Berry, and Barbara Ann Jeter, eight grandchildren, Steve Pike, Jason Pike, Shannon Corey, Christina Berry Neubauer, Ashley Berry Brown, Sam Berry, Justin Jeter and Georganna Jeter; 15 great grandchildren; two great-great grandchildren; two sons-in-law; one sister, Edna Cain, her aunt, Catherine Clark and a myriad of nieces, nephews, and cousins. Her family testifies that she was a blessed woman from her first breath until her last.