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Esther Sarah Agnew Baker, 73, of La Luz, New Mexico, died in her beautiful home, her favorite place, on Saturday, November 25, 2023. Esther was born in Roswell, NM, in 1950 to Glen C. (Jake) and Ethlyn Agnew, who taught her that it takes a village to raise a child. Her parents instilled in her a service mind for people. Esther was the oldest of three children. She learned to sew her own clothes. She always said that her favorite person growing up was her grandmother, who taught her to open Christmas presents without anyone knowing. Esther attended Sierra and Oregon Elementary Schools, Chaparral Junior High, Alamogordo High School, and NMSU, earning a master’s degree in social work. Esther spent her life serving others.
Esther met the love of her life, Edward Baker, in high school in Alamogordo. Although they both went their separate ways, they found their way back into each other’s lives in 1979, and the two were married at the Lodge in Cloudcroft on June 23, 1984.
Esther brought two children, Trey and Jenny, into the marriage, and Ed brought one daughter, Angela. Esther and Ed journeyed through a life dedicated to parenting. They have raised many foster children and opened their hearts to adopt six children: Jessie Baker, Krista Baker, Jenna Holloway, Desiree Baker, Anthony Baker (A.J.), and David Baker. Their children range in age from 11 to 53. Seeing them in town without five or more kids in tow was rare. At one point, as many as 16 children lived in the family home.
Esther truly believed, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand more.”- Luke 12:48. She cared for and loved the children of the community and loved to feed all those in need, whether for the loss of a loved one or someone suffering from a bad cold. She worked with many churches in Hospitality Committees, Kitchen Committees, and Bereavement Ministries.
Esther attended many churches in the community, including her Agnew family church, St. John’s Episcopal Church. She also worshiped in the Unitarian Universalist Church, Trinity Baptist of High Rolls, and Bethel Baptist Church. Recently, she has been attending Cottonwood Christian Fellowship.
Though she loved reptiles, exotic birds, snakes, and sharing food, one of Esther’s favorite roles was being a grandparent. She treasured her time with her grandkids and loved being the “crazy grandma.” She shared her odd interests with the kids that always filled her home.
Esther had a soft spot for her furry friends as well. She showed multiple dogs over the years and rescued hundreds. Following in her father’s footsteps, she raised farm animals and kept sheep on the same property where he had once shepherded when he was a young teen. She even worked a pony ring for a few years when her youngest daughter took an interest in horses.
Esther never met a stranger. Her father taught her that there was always room for one more at the table, and she took that to heart. Mi casa es su casa was her philosophy in life. She cultivated friendships in every aspect of her life, from her time in school as a child, church, work, service organizations, internet morning coffee clubs, and the random people she met on the bus who needed a friend.
Esther has worked in many positions in the community. She searched titles for an abstract company and worked in the drafting department for a phone company. After marrying Henry Louis Way Jr., she focused on raising Trey and Jenny while running a home daycare and sewing their clothing in the evenings. She briefly worked as a jeweler, creating beautiful gold and silver jewelry. During college, while working towards her master’s degree in social work, Esther worked as a reporter, a substitute teacher for the Alamogordo Public Schools, in the Admissions Office at NMSU-A, at La Placita Boys Home as a social worker, and as a landscaper. Esther worked as a social worker and administrator at Casa Arena Balance for 17 years. She loved on the elderly and touched many hearts in the community while taking care of patients and staff. After leaving the nursing home, she sold GE Long Term Care Insurance so the elderly could stay in their homes when they needed extra care. She kept her social work license current to help the elderly in the community with paperwork and decision-making at no charge. Esther was an active member of Rotary International for many years. She was also a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow, an award presented to those who make an outstanding contribution to the community, going above and beyond in service while promoting change and understanding.
Esther had a hobby of collecting. She collected all things: dogs, farm animals, native dolls, clothing, parrots, reptiles, snakes, pottery, children, and anything Southwestern. Esther loved Southwestern everything.
We will miss Esther every day. Her memory will live on in the hearts of all those who loved her. Esther will always be remembered for her laughter, giving spirit, and how everyone who knew her felt accepted and loved. We will always imagine hearing her say, again, “Life is too short for white!” For this special situation, we will extend and modify her saying to include the color black. If you plan on attending the Celebration of Life, please do not wear black. Fill her “celebration of life” with color!
Esther was preceded in death by her grandmother, Ethel Guy; her parents, Jake and Ethlyn Agnew; her brother, Steve Agnew; and her in-laws, Orlin and Nellie Baker. She is survived by her husband, Edward Baker; her sister, Jennifer Young (Bill); her brother, Ron Agnew (Melanie); her brothers-in-law, Stephen Baker (Karen), Paul Baker (Tina), Brian Baker (Susan); her sisters-in-law, Kathy Baker and Pat Baker (Tom); her children, Angela Weller (Andrew), Henry Louis Way III (Tina Peterson), Jennifer Baker (Jeff Bills), Jessie Baker, Krista Baker, Jenna Holloway, Desiree Baker, A.J. Baker, and David Baker; her grandchildren, Chelsey and Clint Hammack, Rick Pethick and Natasha Mathews, Oscar (Toni) Carlin, Cailin and Casey Riedel, Sarah Pethick, Mariah Pethick and Zach Stone, Ava Holloway, and Daniel Baker; one great-grandchild, Carver Hammack; her many cousins, nieces, nephews, extended family, and those that she chose to make family.
The Celebration of Life is on December 16th at 11:00 am, held at Bethel Baptist Church at 1316 N. Scenic Dr. Alamogordo, NM. Since Esther’s favorite thing to do was to eat and serve others, we request that everyone join in a potluck meal in the Fellowship Hall following the service. Please bring your favorite dish to share with friends and family. If you feel you would like to honor her life with a donation, you can do so in her name to Forever Homes Animal Rescue in Alamogordo or the El Paso Humane Society, either would be greatly appreciated.
The Baker family has entrusted their loved one to the care of Scenic Chapel.