Wanda Baker, 73, of Mitchell, SD, died Saturday, August 14, 2021, at Firesteel Healthcare Center in Mitchell following an eight-month battle with COVID-induced diabetes complications. Funeral services will be 10:00 AM Saturday, August 28, at Harvest Community Church of the Nazarene in Mitchell. Burial will be at Graceland Cemetery in Fulton. Arrangements by Bittner Funeral Chapel.
Wanda Joy Baker was born on December 29, 1947, in the old Methodist Hospital in Mitchell (many years later she met the nurse who delivered her) to parents Melvin and Evelyn Thomsen. She lived in Mitchell her first 4 years, and then the family moved to Minnesota where Wanda completed her school years, graduating in 1965 from Dawson High School. In seventh grade in Dawson, she met her future husband, Mike Baker, though it took her another 12 years to realize he was her future husband. Then she spent 50 years of marriage taking the rough edges off him (Oh, no! You aren't going to wear that, are you?!).
Immediately after graduation, she flew to Uganda (Africa), where her father was on an USAID contract., showing the Ugandans how to set up farm co-ops. Although she returned to Minnesota for nursing school and her first few years of nursing practice, she always had a “heart for Africa.” In 1971, when she and Mike were preparing to marry, she told him that she would love it if he could get orders for Africa (he was in the Army). Fortunately, he was able to deliver on an assignment to Ethiopia, and the couple had 13 wonderful months there before having to evacuate to Maryland when the civil war heated up. As civilians (1973-2007), they had assignments in several places in Germany, Moscow (Russia), Geneva (Switzerland), and Budapest (Hungary). Along the way, they had two children (Derek was almost born in Ethiopia, but settled on St. Paul, and Monica was born in Augsburg, Germany. The first document she got was a passport, valid for five years, with her baby picture.). Both of the kids loved the overseas experience. Wherever Mike and Wanda went, they made lasting friends and enjoyed learning about the country. Budapest was a surprise, because the Hungarians love quilting, and Wanda became a serious quilter. She was working on a quilting project when she got sick
Wanda was a lifelong member of the Church of the Nazarene, and she was very active in Harvest Community Church, Mitchell, both on the church board and wherever else she was needed. She was also active in James Valley Community Center, where she played Mahjong and was in the quilt guild.
She is survived by her husband, Mike; son, Derek (Jill) of Mankato MN; daughter, Monica (AJ) of Sioux Falls SD; three grandsons; brothers, Les (Lane) Thomsen of San Antonio TX and Vandy (Paula) Thomsen of Independence MO; numerous cousins and other relatives, and a multitude of friends all over the world who were touched by her and miss her. That multitude begins with friends from Dawson and overseas days and includes lifelong friends from the church in Maryland that was their home church for many years, and extends to the many wonderful people who have taken Mike and Wanda in in Mitchell.
Wanda's parents, Mel and Evelyn Thomsen, preceded her in death.