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Posted: Tuesday 7 June, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Federation’s oldest citizen passes away

The late Florence Baker at age 109
By: Suelika N. Creque,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – AFTER witnessing the birth of three generations and living through two world wars, St. Kitts and Nevis’ oldest citizen, Florence Baker, has gone home to her Maker.


    Baker, who resided at Cayon, died on Thursday, June 2 at the Joseph N. France General Hospital.
    She was 111 years old.


    SKNVibes visited her home on Saturday (June 4) and met with her caretaker Laverne Cozier, her daughter 93-year-old Marion Grant and her granddaughter 63-year-old Inez Buncombe.


    Cozier said that “Mother Baker”, as she was affectionately called, died around 4:00 a.m. at the hospital after suffering from poor circulation in her left foot, which had to be amputated.


    “I realised she had poor circulation, so I sought to inform the doctor and we called the ambulance for her to be taken to the hospital,” Cozier said.


    The Jamaican national, who has been living in St. Kitts for two years but became Baker’s caretaker in January this year, said they were informed by the doctors that she had to undergo surgery because she was suffering from a condition called Gangrene.


    They were told that Mother Baker might not have survived the surgery but it was imperative because of the foot’s condition.


    The surgery was on done on Tuesday, May 31, and while bedded at the hospital she was described as being calm and quiet.


    Cozier said that Mother Baker would be missed and described her as the world’s best, noting that she never gave her any trouble.


    “I don’t know if I would find another as good as her to work with. She would always tell you, ‘God bless you’ everyday whenever you would do anything for her. She was very nice,” Cozier said.


    Cozier said that Baker enjoyed eating porridge and soups and drank lots of water.


    She said that Mother Baker would always extend gratitude every time she was given something.


    “She loved to sing and dance, and her skin was good for her age,” she said.


    Her granddaughter said that Mother Baker took care of her as a child, as she would spend some time with her when school was on summer breaks.


    “Sometimes I would see her cook food and thought, ‘Wow, all of that good food is for me’,” she reminisced.


    Her granddaughter said that Mother Baker told them that she worked at Brighton Estate and had borne three children.


    “She also helped to raise my daughter, Diane Dunrod-Francis, who was a top athlete from St. Kitts,” Buncombe said.


    Baker’s daughter said that she and her mother were together all the time and that she would share her experiences of the time when she worked at the estate.


    “She will be missed. She was a friendly person and she ate lots of soup and vegetables and anything she could get,” Grant said.
    Grant said the only ailment her mother suffered from were headaches.


    Cozier said that Baker would get headaches that at times would cause her to puke, after which she would feel better.


    “She also loved Bay Rum, but not to drink.  She loved to rub it on her forehead, and she would thank you many times for giving it to her,” she said.


    Grant said her mother was a teetotaller and a non-smoker.


    “When she was given bottles of alcohol during Christmas time she would normally give it away,” she said.


    Buncombe said that her grandmother was the type of person who would always try to make peace.


    “She never liked arguments, and if she saw two people arguing she would try to talk to them and help settle the matter,” she added.


    Mother Baker, who would have been 112 on November 19, had moved to Cayon from Newtown where she was residing with her mother and fisherman father during her formative years.


    Funeral arrangements have not been finalised, but SKNVibes learnt that her Thanksgiving Service will be held at the St. Mary’s Anglican Church.


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