Gail Joanne (Marriott) Baker Major, 81, passed away on Oct. 4, at her home in Carrizozo. After a tough fight with a number of serious health issues, Gail left behind her legacy in her family, friends and a life well-lived. She was the quintessential “city girl” come to the West. She was born in Detroit, Mich. on Feb. 29, 1936, to parents Harold and Beth Braconier Marriott. Her childhood in Michigan was full of summers at YWCA camp at Lake Huron and at the “lakes.” She learned to swim at a young age and also began dancing at the age of 3-4 under the tutelage of an aunt. (Tap, ballet and modern dance). She recalled her childhood as several overcrowded schools, the war (WWII) and summer nights playing games of kick the can in the streets. School came easy to her and her exceptionally bright mind allowed her to skip the second grade. In late 1950, she migrated with her family to Walsenburg, Colo., where she entered Walsenburg High School as a sophomore. She married George E. Baker on August 15, 1956 and together they raised four children: Jewell (Julie), Bruce, Lonnie and George James (Jim). Her introduction to the ranch and rural living started with a honeymoon fishing trip by horseback to a high mountain lake, along with her new father-in-law and a cousin. She laughed when recalling the story and the total lack of romance involved. As city girl come to the country, she “toughed it out” as she said. In their first home she learned to cook on a wood stove, carry water, use the outhouse and manage with no electricity and the use of gas lamps for lights. “And a bucket under the kitchen sink” that served at the drain. She gardened, canned, fished, hunted big game and was then part of the meat processing crew after the kill. And although over her lifetime, she churned up tons of butter, her one hold out to country life was in not ever learning to milk a cow. Her one attempt ended in tears when the cow kicked over the bucket just as George returned from a hunting trip and he laughed. She went to the house and vowed to never again darken the milk barn door. She and George lived and ranched on Muddy Creek in upper Huerfano County near Gardner, Colo. until 1969-70. In June 1970, they relocated the family to Tennessee and Kentucky and then to Montana in 1972. After George’s passing in Montana on July 31, 1983, and at the invitation of friends, Gail moved to Ruidoso to work at the Ski Apache Ski School Desk and at the Ruidoso Downs Jockey Club the summer of 1984. During a “vacation” outing to Albuquerque after the race track closed on Labor Day, she ran into an old acquaintance and friend from their Colorado days, Duncan Major. They were married Jan. 26, 1985, and ranched at the Monte Prieto Ranch, Claunch, until Duncan’s death, Feb. 17, 2000. Besides her stellar skills as mother and homemaker, Gail began flying in 1976, soloed in 1978 and got her pilot’s license in 1979. She worked eight years in banking, from teller to bank officer. She then earned her Montana Realtor’s license in 1982. But always, her main focus was on home and family. She was a renowned cook and baker along with marvelous sewing and knitting skills. As a left hander, she had to teach herself some of those skills as everything was “backwards” for her from what others did. Gail was preceded in death by her parents, her husbands George Baker and Duncan Major and son, Lonnie Dee Baker in July 2015. She is survived by her remaining children, Julie Carter of Mountainair, Bruce Baker of Carrizozo, Jim Baker and Lexi of Savannah, Texas, and daughter-in-law Shelley Baker (Lon) of Colorado Springs, Colo.; 12 grandchildren, Trish VanEgmond, Teri Kerstiens, Lane Carter, Ryan Baker, Tonya Moore, Scott Gough, Brittany Stout, Brianne Baker-Hudgins, Justin Baker, C.J. Baker, Chance Baker and Brynner Baker; 10 great-grandchildren; a sister, Linda Schafer, of Walsenburg, Colo.; many nieces and nephews and lifelong friends from everywhere she ever lived. At her request, services will be a private graveside in Claunch at a later date, and a memorial in Rosita, Colo., on Memorial Day weekend, May 2018.
About The Author
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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