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Apr
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2024
Obituaries

Jane Hill Baker

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Jane Hill Baker (Submitted photo by Pris Baker, Ithaca, NY)

Jane Hill Baker (Submitted photo by Pris Baker, Ithaca, NY)

Jane Hill Baker, long-time resident of Yellow Springs, died Feb. 12, 2024, at Friends Care Community Center. She was 89.

A lover of the arts, Jane lived a life surrounded by music, art and the printed word in a community she loved and where she was instrumental in helping those arts flourish for 55 years.

Jane was born in The Hague, Netherlands, on April 17, 1934, to an English mother, Marjory Hammett, and a Dutch father, Herman Karel Nieuwenhuis. She lived her first five years in The Netherlands before her family moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey. After attending Wellesley College, she married David Hill and moved to Centerville, Ohio. They had two children. After her divorce, she moved to Yellow Springs.

Jane worked as the university editor at Wright State University, where she finished her undergraduate degree and went on to earn a master’s degree in history. It was there that she met her second husband, Bill Baker.

Jane’s professional life centered around words. She became a freelance editor and book designer. She did the copy editing and layout for the Antioch Review for more than four decades, beginning in 1975. She was the author of “William Mills: The Yellow Springs Man,” about the founder of Yellow Springs. Jane formed her own publishing company, The Wild Goose Press. Her biggest publication was the “Diaries of Bishop Milton Wright,” father of Orville and Wilbur Wright. She designed books of local interest by local authors, including several photography books for Irwin Inman, a series of books about hats by costume designer Debbie Henderson and the book “Celebrating Women: The Women’s Park of Yellow Springs,” among many others.

Jane and Bill bought an 1854 farmhouse in Yellow Springs and remodeled it into an avant-garde residence with a performance space for chamber recitals and art. They enjoyed collecting art from local artists, showcasing the work in their home. Their home office was also a library with a thousand books. They loved to travel, especially to visit Jane’s cousins in The Netherlands. An excellent cook, Jane, with Bill, hosted many dinners in their home. They were members of a dinner group that called themselves The Giddy Gourmets. For many years Jane went out with friends once a week for sushi.

In 1983, Jane was one of the visionary founders and the critical moving force behind the creation of Chamber Music in Yellow Springs, or CMYS. She was instrumental in getting the organization a grant from the Yellow Springs Community Foundation, served as the president for the first six years and published all of their programs for many decades. She often hosted, overnight, the musicians who came to play in the CMYS Annual Competition for Emerging Professional Ensembles and loved listening to them rehearse in her home. Jane, herself, played the piano and took up the cello when she was in her 40s.

Given her generous spirit, her skills and her love of the community in which she lived, it is not surprising that in 2018, Jane was inducted into the Greene County Women’s Hall of Fame. Her achievements included half a century of service to the Yellow Springs community as a donor and volunteer to Home Inc., Chamber Music in Yellow Springs, the Yellow Springs Community Foundation, where she served for years as a trustee, the Yellow Springs Arts Council and the Yellow Springs Senior Center.

Jane was preceded in death by her parents; her first husband, David Hill; her second husband, William DeGrove Baker; and her two children, Sidney Leonard and David Hill. She is survived by her son-in-law, Brian Leonard, of Portland, Maine; her stepchildren, Pamela Baker, of Chicago, Illinois, William Bradford Baker (Robin Ziperman), of Buena Vista, Colorado, and Priscilla Baker Walker (James), of Boulder, Colorado; her sister, Anne Thomas, of Basking Ridge, New Jersey; two nephews, Philip K. Thomas (Jing), of New Vernon, New Jersey, and Stuart Thomas (Jane), of Naples, Florida; a grandnephew; two grandnieces; and numerous step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be held in Yellow Springs at a future date. Contributions in memory of Jane Baker may be made to the Yellow Springs Community Foundation, PO Box 55, Yellow Springs, OH 45387.

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3 Responses to “Jane Hill Baker”

  1. David & Esther Battle says:

    Jane became one of our closest and lasting friends soon after she moved to Yellow Springs. David was the Art Director for the Antioch Review magazine and recruited Jane to serve as Publication Editor to work hand-in-glove with Bob Fogarty, magazine editor and with David for over 40 years! True to her custom of donating her many talents to friends and the Community, Jane volunteered to stitch window coverings at the former Dayton Biltmore Hotel’s for David’s opening exhibit of the newly-formed DVAC organization for David who was exhibiting his Antioch Review cover art for the gallery. Jane and Esther shared their culinary interests and talents including Jane’s “Queen of Sheba” birthday cakes presented annually for each of us! Kudos to Jane’s four adult stepchildren who arranged and smoothed her final transitions in an exceptional way during the last few years of her life:(Pamela Baker, Bill Baker, Robin Ziperman and Priscilla Walker) A close friend of ours heard so much about Jane from us, longed to meet her and referred to her as “THE Jane Baker.” We miss her greatly. Sending this with love.

  2. George Rike says:

    Jane was a dear friend❤️

  3. vick mickunas says:

    Jane Baker was an absolute dynamo. She was a brilliant book designer. Jane hosted incredible soirees at her home and it was an indescribable pleasure to be invited to attend one of those events at her home. She was an amazing cook, when you ate at Jane’s you never left with an empty stomach. And she was a raconteur with a dry wit. My friend, the late Bill Hooper, was Jane’s dear friend until his death. It was Bill who made sure that we got to know Jane and were able to appreciate her benevolent hospitality. Jane epitomized what once made this village so special. That generation is slowly fading into the amber. Bless you, Jane. And thank you!

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