Mrs. Vernette Baxter, was born in Beaumont, Texas, on December 23, 1912. She moved to Raton, New Mexico, with her parents (William B. Brooks & Jessie O. Brooks (Graves)) at the age of 5 and entered into the Raton Public School system. She was one of 4 children (Ali Mae (Johnson – Monrovia, CA), Willie (Hall – Denver, CO), Helen (Sutton – Denver, CO/Marshall, TX) being the others) born to her parents.
Mrs. Baxter graduated in the top 4 of a very small class at Raton High School. She studied music (vocal and piano) and got so good that she was asked often to play and/or sing for many town and church functions. She took in helping neighbors with their sewing and gave music lessons on the piano to kids and adults in and around Raton. She was mostly self-taught in music after the music teacher left Raton in her 9th year of school.
Later she took on working for the Government developing programs to help the youth, young adults, the handicapped and the disabled kids. She was also asked to teach and assist in the Raton Public Schools with their handicapped and disabled student programs. She implemented many programs which are still used today. She met Mahalia Jackson in late 1940 in Chicago, and they were an instant match for singing Gospel music. From 1941-1952 she had the opportunity several times to travel with, and open some shows for Mrs. Jackson. And in some smaller venues, she either played background piano, and on occasions she actually sang duets with Mahalia Jackson.
During her traveling back and forth to Denver she joined Zion in 1935 and was a very active member. She played the piano on several occasions under Pastor Rev. Wendell T. Liggins (deceased), sang with the choir, taught Bible school and was on the Deaconess Committee until she went home. She would help with contacting Zion’s sick and shut-in, calling prayer members, visiting by phone many members in care facilities around the greater Denver area, also wrote letters and cards to them.
Known as “Mrs. Baxter”, “Mom Baxter” or “Mother Baxter”, she was awarded the Centenarian Award in 2012 for being a faithful member of Zion Baptist Church for 77 years, at the time of award, under Rev. Frank M. Davis; she was also their oldest living member (80 Blessed years) until her passing on the morning of 5/10/2015 at 4:45AM.
“Mom Baxter” officially moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1973 with her mother, after her husband and father had both passed away in 1968, to be near me. In 1974, her mother passed and that left just her, her son (Arthur) and two of her sisters (Helen and Willie). “Mom Baxter” was very good friends with “Daddy Bruce” Randolph, who for many years helped organize delivery of meals for the homeless, sick-and-shut-in, those less fortunate, or just anyone who was hungry and “Mom Baxter” was a Blessing to him and his ministry. “Mom Baxter” help the Salvation Army organize and implement several of their programs still in use today.
The “Wish Of A Lifetime” foundation granted “Mom Baxter” her wish to go to Las Vegas to celebrate her 100th birthday, with all expenses paid for 3 days round trip. She loved it there and was so excited just to pull the lever on the first slot machine she saw at the airport for the very first time; and she actually won a little.
Mrs. Vernette Baxter was Blessed to have had so many family members, relatives, and friends with her throughout her 102+ years on this Earth. She leaves behind her son, Arthur R. Baxter Jr. (Denver), many nephews and nieces across North America and several other countries who fondly refer to her as “Aunt BoBo”. There are many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren who refer to her as “Grandma BoBo” or “Grandma Baxter”. And, there are also the many of whom she took into her arms and heart as if they were her own family from whom she was lovingly called “Mom”, “Mama” or “Mom Baxter”.
Beautiful, Grand, Godly Lady, “Ms. Queen”… You are, and will be, greatly missed by all.
A Celebration of Life will be held Tuesday May 26, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. at the Alderette-Pomeroy Funeral Home Chapel with interment to follow at Fairmont Cemetery. Funeral arrangements for Mrs. Vernette Baxter are under the direction of the Alderette-Pomeroy Funeral Home of Raton.