Helen Jewelle Cannon Masciale Baker Gardner, 94, of Atlantic Beach, formerly of Kinston, flew to paradise Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, at the Crystal Coast Hospice House in Newport.
A celebration of her life will be held in the spring. The date and time will be announced.
She was born May 23, 1925, at the Cannon family farm in Ayden. A lover of nature from birth, she spent her childhood playing with her brothers and cousins, swinging from tree to tree like Tarzan in the woods on the farmland. She always said Ayden was the garden spot of the world.
At 17, she went to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to help with the war effort and became the department head of Navy Supply until 1945. She received her bachelor’s degree from the American School of Design in New York City and her Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1950. She was a business executive and a design consultant for most of her life. She owned or co-owned several businesses throughout the years, including Baker Furniture Co., Cannon Paint and Wallpaper, Gardner Construction Co. and Lenoir Plumbing and Heating. A pioneer in her field, she was the first woman to serve on the board of the chamber of commerce in Kinston.
She lived long and she definitely prospered. She loved and was loved. She traveled and saw the world. She was always learning new things and teaching others new things. She was a dancer, a creator, a believer and a Trekkie. She kept everything in its place and kept her family together. She was a mother and a friend. But to everyone she met, she was Momma Jewelle. She was everyone’s grandmother, everyone’s safe place and comfort. She changed the people she met with her love, laughter and her stories. She dedicated her life to her family. She always made sure everyone knew they were loved, remembered where they came from and learned their life lessons.
“She always made sure we knew about our family before us and filled us full of her childhood stories. She had a great love for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She taught us all so many life lessons that we’ve taken with us through every day. She helped mold us all into the people we are. We all have hopes to be half of what she was. She was the epitome of grace, strength and dignity.”
The family would like to thank the entire staff of the Crystal Coast Hospice House and two very special caregivers, Linda Johnson and Leila Dixon.
She is survived by her daughter, Paula Baker Bryan of Atlantic Beach; son, Paul T. Baker Jr. and wife Marcie of Cary; stepdaughter, Blanche Baker Miller of Lewisville, Texas; grandchildren, Perri Bryan Elliott and husband Malcolm of Winterville, Marlie Jade Baker and boyfriend Joe Cassell of Wilmington, Paul Thomas Baker III of Cary, David Miller and wife Edna of Coppell, Texas, Bill Miller and wife Mary and Thomas Miller and wife Jane, all of McKinney, Texas, Trudy Miller of Lithia, Fla., and Leigh Coombs and Kristian Jones, both of Kinston; niece, Raye Cannon Shimer of Kinston; and numerous loving great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Roland Ray Cannon and Helen Jackson Cannon; two brothers, Simpson Ray Cannon and Perry Bender Cannon; two of her husbands, Paul Thomas Baker Sr. and Fred C. Gardner; grandson, Raymond A. Bryan IV; and stepdaughter, Angela Gardner Hollowell.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the National MPS Society, c/o Donations, P.O. Box 14686, Durham, NC 27709, or online at mpssociety.org/give.
Arrangements are by Noe Funeral Service Inc. of Beaufort. Condolences and life tributes may be sent to the family at www.noefs.org.