Darlene Joyce Anderson Baker
1941 - 1995
Joyce Baker, an organist and pianist, taught music for a decade in Seventh-day Adventist schools and nearly twenty years in the Michigan public school system. Throughout her life, beginning in her teenage years, she was also active as a church musician.
Joyce was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the youngest of four children and the only one to pursue a career in music. She began taking piano lessons at age five and continued through her teenage years at McPhail School of Music, a highly regarded school that at the college level eventually became part of the music program at the University of Minnesota. Following graduation from Maplewood Academy in 1959, where she had continued in advanced keyboard study at MSM, she enrolled at Union College as a music major.
Joyce completed a B.S. degree in music education with distinction at UC in 1963, with piano as her major performance area, studying under Eleanor Attarian (later Wahlen), and organ as a minor area of study. She was one of sixteen students from UC to be included in the 1962-1963 edition of Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.
Upon graduating, she accepted a position at Maplewood Academy as keyboard instructor and assistant girls' dean. At the end of her first year there, she was hired by Minneapolis Junior Academy to teach music in grades 1-8 and direct the band.
In 1965, in the summer following her first year at MJA, she married Thomas L. Baker, a student at the University of Minnesota. A year later, they were invited to join the faculty at Oak Park Academy in Iowa, where she became instructor of keyboard and art classes and he a teacher in language arts, positions they would hold for the next four years. In her final year at OPA, she directed the band and choral groups. While there, she also taught a class in music history to general education students.
While at OPA, Baker completed an M.A. at UM in music history and organ performance under Heinrich Fleischer, noted German-born organ performer, scholar, and direct descendant of Martin Luther. She also took graduate classes in choral music and choral conducting during her studies at the university.
In 1970 the Bakers moved to Houston, Texas, where he had been offered a scholarship for graduate study at Rice University. During the next two years she taught music at the Houston Junior Academy. They then taught at Sunnydale Academy in Missouri for one year, leaving when he accepted a position at Union College in 1973.
In 1976 they moved to Michigan when Thomas was invited to join the faculty at Andrews Academy to teach English and German. Beginning the following year, Joyce began teaching at Lybrook Elementary School in Eau Claire, a position she would hold until the time of her death in December 1995.
Throughout her career, Baker served in several church music positions, beginning as a teenager playing for a Congregational Church near her home in Anoka. While at UM and later in Houston, she was organist for Lutheran churches. In Michigan, she served as organist and choir director for the American Baptist Church in St. Joseph. She last served as organist at the United Church of Christ in Benton Harbor.
Sources: Information provided by Thomas Baker, September 2011 and January 1012; Northern Union Outlook, 20 November 1966, 2; 12 August 1966, 6; Central Union Reaper, 10 July 1973, 4; Andrews Academy Website; other online sources.