Phyllis Rena Baker passed away on February 1, 2022. She was 94 years old. Phyllis was blessed with good health for most of her life and had a sharp mind her entire life. But following a short bout of infirmity, due to heart problems and advancing age, she died peacefully while staying at her daughter, Corinne’s, home in Ronan, Montana.
Phyllis was born in Fallon, Nevada on December 19, 1927 to Ralph and Carolina Matteucci. She was born and raised on her family's farm and lived most of her life in Fallon on part of the Matteucci Homestead. She was the second of 3 children. She was preceded in death by her older brother, Remo Matteucci. She is survived by her younger sister, Alma Whitehead.
Phyllis’s father and mother had immigrated from Italy in the 1920s. Her early life was spent working on the 80-acre family farm that her father and mother had carved out of the desert along the Carson River. Working alongside her parents, brother, and sister, Phyllis took care of animals, milked cows, worked in the fields, and tended the orchard and gardens. Produce and livestock from the Matteucci farm were renowned locally and provided a living for the family.
Phyllis attended elementary and grade school at the one room Northam District School that was near their farm. She spoke of being able to ride horses to school and keep them in a corral behind the school. She was part of the last class of the Northam School before the rural school was closed. She then attended Churchill County High School in Fallon, from which she graduated in 1945. She was active in-home economics and 4-H clubs. One of her early accomplishments was being selected to attend the 4-H Congress in Chicago as part of a home economics award. She was proud of this honor and described her delight with traveling from a small town and seeing the lights, bustle, and attractions in a big city. After her graduation from high school, Phyllis went on to work for the Fallon JCPenney store for many years. She had an engaging personality, a strong work ethic, loved helping people, and enjoyed her career being part of the sales team in a small-town store.
She met the love of her life, Matthew Baker, on a date set up by her sister, Alma. Matthew and Phyllis were married on September 2, 1950 and remained so for 41 years, until Matthew passed away in 1991. They raised 4 children: Dennis Baker, Corinne Cramer, Ralph Baker, and Maureen Baker. Matthew had a daughter from a previous marriage, Barbara Woodsman, who now resides in Maine. Phyllis's oldest son, Dennis, tragically died at age 18 (1968) following a farm accident. This was a loss that rocked the family to the core. It took the family many years to absorb this loss but strengthened Phyllis’s resolve to move forward with her life and care for her family. Phyllis retired from JCPenney's in 1976 to care for her younger son, Ralph, who was paralyzed in an auto accident. She willingly sacrificed her career to keep her son from living in a nursing home and go on to have a productive life.
From her early life forward, Phyllis was actively and passionately involved in service clubs in the Fallon area. She was a lifetime member of the American Legion and served from 1950 on. She also was active in the Northam Homemakers Club, the Fallon Emblem Club and the Fraternal Order of Eagles club. She proudly served as president of the Fallon Emblem Club and served as Nevada State President (1995- 1996) for the Fraternal Order of Eagles Club. Phyllis and her crew of Emblem club and Eagles Club women were famous for their catering of dinners and parties that the clubs held in order to raise money for many, many charitable causes. Phyllis led a very active lifestyle and traveled throughout the state to attend functions for her clubs, and to do community service and charitable work. She also took pride in her volunteer work with the Fallon Senior Center and the Meals on Wheels program, and graciously reached out to and served those in need.
Phyllis was blessed with being able to live independently and drive her own vehicle until she was 90 years old, and father-time slowed her down. She spent the last few years of her life between living at home, living alternately with her 2 daughters, and having the support of her immediate and extended family. Phyllis loved taking photographs of the events and people in her life. She would always take time to write and send holiday, birthday, and anniversary letters to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and other family and friends. Phyllis was a strong and feisty Italian woman who was short in stature, but strong-willed and had a loving heart. She would always take delight in visiting with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In sum, she was a loving matriarch and the cornerstone of her family. She stands as a testament to a life well-lived. She was loved by all who met her and knew her, and never hesitated to extend her hand and a kind word to anyone in need. She will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by all. She was truly part of the “greatest generation”.
Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Carolina Matteucci, her husband, Matthew Baker, brother, Remo Matteucci, and by her son, Dennis Baker.
Phyllis is survived by her sister, Alma Whitehead, daughter Corinne Cramer, daughter Maureen Baker, and son, Ralph Baker. She is also survived by grandchildren, Tyson Whalen, Tawny Lunt, Craig Fernandez, Sterling Fernandez, Kent Cramer, Clint Cramer, Emily Baker, and Taryn Baker, and numerous great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
Per her wish, she returned home to Fallon and will be buried next to her husband Matthew and son Dennis at the Fallon Cemetery.
A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held at the Fallon Cemetery, Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 1:30pm. A private family service will be at The Gardens Mortuary in Fallon.
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