Charlotte Louise Owens Baker peacefully departed this life on December 17, 2018. Born in Mercer, Pennsylvania, on June 6, 1926, Charlotte was the fifth of seven children born to the late Elmer and Rosanna Reed Owens. She was preceded in death by her sisters, Catherine Rhinehardt and Margaret Baker Randall and brothers, Elmer, Robert, and Maurice Owens.
During World War II, Charlotte worked at General Industries as a molder. She was later hired by Bill Long to work at the Co-op Grocery Store, where she advanced to head cashier and became manager of the Credit Union. She left the grocery store and became the first African American office worker at Gilford Instrument Laboratories. After her retirement from Gilford’s, she owned and operated Quick and Delicious Restaurant. She later worked part-time at Subway in Oberlin for 17 1⁄2 years, as a sandwich artist.
Charlotte’s was a life of service to her church and community. From an early age, her life was focused on being a Christian and serving her beloved Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She was secretary of the Sunday School, a Sunday School teacher, a youth leader with her sister, Margaret, and served on the Board of Christian Education. One Mother’s Day, the church named her Mother of the Year.
Over the years, Charlotte was involved in activities that had an impact on the Oberlin community. Realizing that it was difficult for African Americans to find employment in Oberlin, Charlotte and other NAACP members picketed Fisher’s Grocery Store and the GTE Telephone Company, achieving results for African American employment in both places. She and her sister, Margaret, with the help of Jeanne Butts and Oberlin College students, were instrumental in integrating Stony’s Bowling Alley in Elyria.
Charlotte also touched the lives of Oberlin College students. She and her sister, Margaret, hosted Oberlin College YWCA students, and she and her sister, Catherine, were instrumental in organizing the Host Family Program for African American students, which allowed students to have a home-away-from-home in the Oberlin community. In 2002, Oberlin College presented her with its Distinguished Community Service Award.
Not one to be idle, Charlotte was involved in a number of community activities, including volunteering at Allen Memorial Hospital, serving as a Girl Scout leader, and being a Grandparent Reader at Eastwood School. She also served on the
boards of Cable Co-op, Friends of the Oberlin Public Library, Oberlin Community Service, and the Hospital Auxiliary. She was a Bed and Breakfast Hostess for F.A.V.A and O.H.I.O. A life member of the NAACP, Charlotte served in the local branch as treasurer. She was president of the Oberlin chapter of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, which awarded her its Sojourner Truth Award. She was also a life member of Oberlin 6273 VFW- Ladies Auxiliary.
Charlotte’s hobbies included doing cross-stitch, baking, and reading. She and her sister, Catherine, were known in the area for making cakes for weddings and other occasions. Charlotte was also a sports fan! She enjoyed watching the Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers, and Indians.
In 2012, Charlotte and her husband moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to be closer to her daughter. She leaves to cherish her memory, her devoted and loving husband of 71 years, Norman, daughter, Joyce, son-in-law, Larry, and grandson, Aaron; her brother Fred (Marilyn) Owens, sisters-in-law, Irene Franklin and Dorothy Baker, and brother-in-law, Gary Randall, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and friends. Charlotte will be greatly missed, but she is now at rest with her Heavenly Father.
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