Shirley J. Kowalczyk Baker, 86, died Feb. 2, 2020, in Arvada, Colorado.
She was born to Marie and Ralph Potvinin on Aug.11, 1933, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
She attended St. Francis High School in Little Falls, Minnesota.
She married Joseph Kowalczyk on Oct. 19, 1954 in Little Falls. In 1960, they moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, where they raised their five children. They parted in 1974, and she moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 1975 with her three youngest children to be near her brother, Kenneth Potvin.
In Las Cruces, she met and ultimately married Raymond Baker in 1978. They were together for a few years and then divorced. In May 1984, she moved to Ketchikan.
Her careers were diverse. In Minnesota, she served as a customer service agent at a bank, a receptionist at a health clinic and as a receptionist for her husband’s Carpet Installation Service.
“After moving to New Mexico, one of her most rewarding careers was working for NASA at the Johnson Space Center and watching the shuttles come in,” her family writes.
In Ketchikan, she worked for the U.S. Forest Service, first as the administrative secretary, and later, in the GIS department.
During her working careers she took numerous professional courses related to her jobs. In Ketchikan, she attended the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus, taking writing and geology courses.
While residing in St. Cloud, Shirley taught Sunday School catechism classes.
“She enjoyed vegetable and flower gardening, canning and making delicious meals,” her family writes. “She was a good seamstress, and was an adult 4-H leader, working with youth on their cooking and sewing projects. An unknown skill she had was directing one act plays for the 4-H clubs. She enjoyed doing good deeds for others. Later in life, she started to travel the world on cruises with her good friend Lou. Mostly she enjoyed spending time with her family”.
Shirley Kowalczyk Baker was preceded in death by her daughter, Jeanne Carter; son, Michael Kowalczyk; ex-husbands, Joseph Kowalczyk and Raymond Baker.
She is survived by her daughter, Mary Kowalczyk and Rudy Saccomanno of Ketchikan; sons, Mark Kowalczyk of Denver, and Joseph (Paula) Kowalczyk of Solomon, Maryland; sisters, Carol Meyer of Pierz, Minnesota, JoAnn (Frank) Trutwin of Royalton, Minnesota, and Mary Lou Hill of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota; grandchildren, Sadie (Jerimiah) Saccomanno Koser of Portland, Oregon, Joey (Jessica) Saccomanno of Lake Havasu, Arizona, Glenda Kowalczyk of Las Cruces, Shanda (Kowalczyk) Campos of San Diego, and Daniel Kowalczyk of La Plata, Maryland; numerous nieces and nephews; and a few great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held this summer in Minnesota. Her remains will be cremated, and her ashes will be buried by her mother’s grave.
Donations may be made to a favorite nonprofit or the Alzheimer’s Association.