EAST PEORIA - Esther Marie Baker, 91, of East Peoria passed away at 5 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, at Rosewood Care Center of East Peoria, surrounded by her family, Valerie Wilford of East Peoria and Sharon Wilford of Denver, Colo., and by many caring staff.
She was born on March 5, 1922, in Lamoille, Ill., the daughter of Lloyd and Mary Baker. Esther received her B.A. in English, German and library science from Illinois State Normal University (ISNU) in 1944 and a master's degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 1952, followed by a supervisory certificate from Bradley University in 1969.
She retired as the School Library Media Specialist at East Peoria High School in 1984 but continued to be an active, dedicated and contributing member of her profession until 2010. In addition to serving as president of the Illinois Association of Media in Education (IAME), she was a member of the Executive Board, served as treasurer for the association and for 18 years chaired its Policy and Bylaws Committee. As school library media administrator, Esther evidenced an unswerving commitment to create an exemplary program of services, resource collection and facilities for the students and faculty of East Peoria Community High School (EPCHS). Her program served as a statewide model for an effective school library media program. During her 36-year tenure at EPCHS, she redesigned and organized the library facility in three different locations and was one of the first to introduce technology into the school library media program. The Illinois Association for Media in Education awarded its 1982 Honor Award to Esther Baker in recognition of her outstanding contributions to school library media services in Illinois. The Illinois School Library Media Association named her as their treasured Polestar Award recipient in 1999. In 2010, she was named the Illinois State University (ISU) Honor Alum in Library Science. Esther generously shared her administrative skills and experience, serving as a supervising teacher for School Library Media students at Illinois State University and participating on numerous North Central accrediting teams. Her vision, logic and organizational skills, coupled with her diligence and sense of humor, have had a significant impact upon school library media services throughout the state of Illinois, as well as on decades of students and colleagues who will greatly miss her.
Cremation will be accorded. A celebration of her life is planned for 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, 2014, at her home.
A memorial fund is being established through the Illinois School Library Media Association. Contributions may be directed to ISLMA, P.O. Box 1326, Galesburg, IL 61402.
The Cremation Society of Mid-Illinois Co. Pekin/Peoria is assisting the family with arrangements.
Online condolences may be made at csmico.com.