Stella Torgerson Baker
January 29, 1907 - September 15, 2010
Stella Torgerson Baker was born on January
29, 1907, to Swen and Mattie (Storla) Torgerson
in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. Born number five of
seven children, Stella, following her brothers' and
sisters' example, helped in the family business of
growing and processing apples. In addition, she
also attended Grove School and Central High
School, from which she graduated in 1924.
Shortly after graduation, Stella married
her first husband, Marion Phillips, with whom
she had two children, Shirley Phillips and
Archie Phillips. In 1942, Stella married her
second husband, Elza "Jerry" Baker. In addition
to gaining four stepchildren, Stella also had
daughter Karen Lee Baker with husband Jerry.
Stella, along with husband Jerry, raised and harvested wheat on a prosperous
farm located near Prescott, Washington, until Jerry's death in 1962. From that year
forward, Stella continued to manage the farm, choosing to live there alone until
1985. It was during these years that Stella became even more active in Prescott's
Christian Church (now called Prescott Community Church). In particular, she
volunteered countless hours sewing quilts with the church's Ladies' Aid group. It
was this quilt-sewing group's Fall Bazaars that kept the church financially afloat
for years. Stella enjoyed the fellowship and friendships of the dear people in her
church and community.
After spending several years living in Walla Walla, Washington, after leaving
her Prescott farm in 1985, Stella return to her favored farm living when she
moved to daughter Shirley Phillips Cummins' Touchet, Washington, alfalfa farm
in 1994. It was on this farm that Stella remained until 2004, when she chose to
move to College Place's Regency at The Park after enduring a debilitating fall.
Stella remained a resident of Regency at The Park, where she was surrounded by
an extended family of loving and caring staff, until her death at the age of 103.
In addition to being preceded in death by her parents and husband, Stella was
preceded in death by sons Archie Phillips and Byron Baker and former son-in-law
James McEwen, daughters-in-law Juanita Conrad Phillips and Rae Hargitt Baker,
and grandchildren Leland Phillips, Dale Phelps, Joe Baker and Mary Michael
Maynard Paynter. Preceding her in death also were Stella's six siblings, Effie
Torgerson Ritchey, Ida Torgerson Kennoyer, Mabel "Louise" Torgerson, Clarence
Torgerson, Wilbur Torgerson and Oscar Torgerson, along with his wife and Stella's
sister-in-law, Bonnie Hopkins Torgerson. Also preceding Stella in death were
her special canine friends Skippy, Chou-Chou, Chopper, Rocky, Honey Bear,
Gingersnap and Freddie.
Surviving Stella are daughters Shirley Phillips Cummins, Karen Lee Baker and
Shirley Baker Phelps, along with sons-in-law Robert Phelps and Robert Chatham
and former son-in-law Dr. Bohdan Kolody. Additionally, Stella is survived by
grandchildren Steven and Cally McEwen, James and Kerry McEwen, Debbi Phillips,
Kenneth Phillips, John Phillips, Dr. Katherine Kolody, Richard Chatham, Larry and
Donna (Baker) VanHollebeke and Mark Phelps. Stella is also survived by greatgrandchildren
Jacob McEwen, Matthew McEwen, Jessica McEwen, Zachariah
McEwen, Elijah McEwen, Jaimalynn McEwen, Alan Weis, Ryan Weis, Adam Phillips,
Rod VanHollebeke, Sheralyn VanHollebeke Whitter, Terri VanHollebeke Snyder,
Wade VanHollebeke, Gary Baker, Jodie Baker, Brandon Phelps and Michelle
Paynter Sybert. Also surviving Stella are her special canine friends Scooby, Annie
Kailey, Cooper Bailey and Betsy Bailey.
Stella was a member of the Prescott Christian Church, Prescott Community
Church, Umatilla Historical Society, Milton-Freewater Historical Society,
Prescott Home-Ec Club, Prescott Ladies' Aid and the Prescott Study Club.
A celebration of Stella's life will be held at Mountain View-Colonial
DeWitt Funeral Home on October 2, 2010, at 1:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Prescott's Ivy
Cemetery through Mountain View-Colonial DeWitt Funeral
Home at 1551 Dalles Military Road, Walla Walla,
Washington, 99362. Please view online obituary