Notable Women of Austin: The fortified personality to things done

Published 8:46 am Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Sally Baker exudes competence, efficiency and warmth. No wonder she has had so many leadership roles in our community.  It is clear she is good at anything she takes on. She says her philosophy is, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”  “You can’t sit on the sidelines and expect something to happen. You must participate in doing it.”

These are things that her mother instilled in her, that there was nothing you could not do if you worked hard enough.  Sally also attributes her life attitude to the influence of a high school English teacher who pushed her very hard to excel.

We are so fortunate that Sally came to Austin and put that philosophy to work.

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Sally’s first volunteer job after moving to Austin in 1993 (her 15th move in 29 years of marriage) was Meals on Wheels, where she continued for 17 years and held every office.   

The Austin Public Library board benefitted from her membership for nine years, as did the SELCO Advisory Board for nine years. Participation on the original board of the Welcome Center, Blandin Leadership, and the Historic Hormel Home Board has also been part of Sally’s contribution to our community. For more than 15 years, Sally served on the Austin Foundation, Mayo Clinic Health System Board and was president during the last building campaign. 

During her 20 plus years on the YMCA board, she has held every office including president, was named “Distinguished Volunteer” twice, Minnesota Alliance Distinguished Volunteer, and recently co-chaired the very successful Austin Community Recreation Center fund drive.  Tedd Maxfield, Executive Director of Austin’s “Y” said, “We knew our campaign co-chairs needed to be highly respected,  energetic, committed, and willing to work  hard. Sally Baker was a perfect choice.”

Sally is in her 10th year volunteering for the Y-USA National Committee Regional Committee on Membership Standards, which takes her all over the region to work on sensitive situations concerning upholding the standards of the YMCA.

Another of Sally’s ongoing activities is with Ladies Floral Club, which, in 2019, will celebrate 150 years of support of the Austin Public Library.   She has held many offices, serving as president 2008-2013, and an additional term for 2017-2019.

And she says one of her favorite activities is participation in her local chapter of PEO, an international philanthropy group that supports educational opportunities for women.  Since joining in 1981, she has served in local as well as state offices of PEO.

This powerhouse grew up in Waitsburg, Washington, a town of 1010 (still the current population).  Sally was an only child, but was not pampered.  She lived with a farm family each summer, doing babysitting, housework and acting as cook’s helper for the preparation of big meals for farm crews. She also worked in the weekly newspaper office doing whatever was needed, from going out to collect information to writing stories.

She attended Washington State University, married and had a family of two, and then went back to college later, graduating from Mankato State with a degree in home economics and business. Her husband, Glenn, worked for Green Giant/Pillsbury, and before moving here. Sally also worked for Pillsbury. After they bought McFarland Truck Lines here in Austin in 1992, she commuted to Minneapolis for the first year, to continue her employment at Pillsbury.

Beside her volunteer activities, Sally loves to cook, to read, to travel and to sew.  She sews every day, and she says that it is the process, more that the product, that she loves. She travels far and wide to learn new sewing techniques. She also loves all kinds of handwork and is currently doing needlepoint.

Thank you, Sally, for all your contributions to our community.

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove or Carolyn Bogott