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Rosalie Baker-Brown, 95

by | Mar 18, 2024 | Obituaries

Rosalie Baker-Brown

Rosalie Isabel Davis was born in 1929 in the little village of Woodville to a family of modest means. She had nine siblings. In the shady woods above a gurgling trout stream, the Davis kids stuck together and learned the lessons of hard work, faith and family and honoring the Golden Rule. Along with the chores and the chickens — one of which created Rosalie’s lifelong nickname, “Diddy,” with the peculiar sounds it made — that little white house was filled with laughter and song.

In the nearby town of Hopkinton, about a quarter-mile from the starting line of the Boston Marathon, Rosalie, tall and beautiful, was a genuine student-athlete at Hopkinton High School. She led the girls basketball team to an undefeated season, earned the prestigious Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award and later was inducted into Hopkinton High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

It was at the high school that Rosalie met Henry “Red” Baker, a teacher and former three-sport athlete himself at Holy Cross College. They married, had five children and raised them in Southborough, where the neighborhood, the reservoirs and activities like Memorial Day parades and sleigh rides in the fall created indelible memories.

Rosalie was involved in everything. Having earned a degree in business administration, she ran a large dental practice. She belonged to the Catholic Women’s Club and was a member of the Southborough Housing Authority. Her early love of basketball stuck. She refereed women’s college basketball for 25 years and was chair of the Massachusetts Association of Referees for 20 years. To help support her kids after the premature death of her husband, she sacrificed all winter long, running up and down the hardwood courts in her striped shirt, whistle in hand and ponytail flying out behind. Years later, that lifelong fitness would save her life during her recovery from open heart surgery.

In Framingham, Southborough and especially “over the river and through the woods” to gram’s house in Woodville, Rosalie made sure Thanksgivings were unforgettable with the smell of baking bread, the jostling of Great Danes and the Davis sisters’ voices blending beautifully into their favorite songs.

Out on Maine’s Peaks Island, for more than 60 years, especially in the last of the three great cottages, “Almost Home,” Rosalie polished the childhoods of her children and grandchildren. With her amazing second husband, Tom Brown, she welcomed her extended family, neighbors, friends and strangers, too, to sit out on the big deck — to eat, drink and be merry together for the sheer fun of it all and the memories that would last a lifetime.

Peaks Island will remember Rosalie Baker-Brown on the “front shore” or reading down on Baker’s Beach or Raven’s Cove. She loved the Fourth of July, her private fireworks and the circle-the-island parade. She loved waving the Stars and Stripes and singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag” at the top of her lungs. In the summer, along the shore, she was something of a landmark — like the great Whaleback Rock. They both seemed indestructible then.

Through some of her happiest years with our beloved stepdad, Tom Brown, whose family was so influential in Boston sports, Rosalie built a great relationship with the Boston Athletic Association and the Boston Marathon. She became the first woman to fire the starter’s pistol, and she waved from the podium as lucky family members made their way to Boston. She was always really proud of events in Hopkinton as her life came full circle.

Rosalie Baker-Brown passed away as she had hoped, at home, beautifully taken care of in the last decade of her life — just as she had done for her mother — by her daughter, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s beloved husband, Dale. The family had a chance to say goodbye. Rosalie may have been dreaming of Virgin Gorda or Bagni de Luca. Maybe she was singing “Amazing Grace” or “Wild Irish Rose” quietly to herself. We’ll never know; but, before she slipped away, she made it clear that she felt humble and unafraid, grateful for a long, happy life, surrounded by people who loved her so. And now, she has drifted off into Longfellow’s “infinite meadows of heaven” and “the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” Mom, we’ll love you forever and carry your influence in our hearts.

Rosalie Baker-Brown is survived by her five children, Dick, Bob and Bill Baker, Teri Conley and Elizabeth Hicks and their spouses, as well as nine grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends from coast to coast. She will be buried in a small, private ceremony. A gathering to celebrate her remarkable long life will be announced at a later date.

The family would like to thank Northern Light VNA Hospice team members for their thoughtful care and compassion.

Obituaries are submissions, typically from funeral homes, that are not subject to the same level of editorial oversight as the rest of the Hopkinton Independent. Obituaries may be edited for grammatical and factual mistakes and clarifications and shortened for space considerations.

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