February 15, 2020

Start Time:

2:00 PM


St. Anthony Catholic Church


15 Indianola Rd

Des Moines IA 50315



February 14, 2020

Start Time:

6:00 to 8:00 PM


Merle Hay Funeral Home Chapel



4400 Merle Hay Rd

Des Moines IA 50310

Catherine Elizabeth Baker

Catherine Elizabeth Baker, 70, died Tuesday, February 4 at the Kavanagh House in Des Moines.

While she had a tendency to dawdle throughout her life, Cathy left us way too fast at the end, just 18 days after her cancer diagnosis. She never wavered from who she was, though. She always had a genuine interest in others and a way of making everyone feel special. There were no strangers in her world; just friends she hadn’t yet met.

A celebration of Cathy’s life will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, February 15, at St. Anthony Catholic Church, 15 Indianola Road, in Des Moines. Visitation will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day), at Merle Hay Funeral Home in Chapel Hill Gardens, 4400 Merle Hay Rd, Des Moines.

Cathy was born Oct. 9, 1949, in Waterloo, Iowa, to Mary Elizabeth (nee Fitzpatrick) and Kenneth Cortright — the youngest of nine children. She was an adorable little girl with blonde curls and freckles who cherished Dairy Queen ice cream cones after Sunday afternoon drives with her family, and sticks of Juicy Fruit gum whenever her oldest sister’s boyfriend showed up at the door. Cathy was selfless, kind, warm and funny. A clever poet. A hugger. An animal lover.

She worked in sales, including real estate and retail. At one time, she owned and managed a store in Waterloo called the Linen Closet.

She met the love of her life, John Baker, in Des Moines. She saved him, and then he saved her. They married the day before Valentine’s Day in 1999, and became — in Cathy’s clever words — “a pair of mittens.” She was part of John’s brotherhood of union workers as a Soul Sister member of Union Laborers No. 177.

Cathy loved dancing, road trips, and family. She had an enthusiastic knack for finding thoughtful gifts. What we really wanted at the end, though, was more time with her. We needed more cowbell, Cathy.

In addition to her husband and their sweet dog, Lola, Cathy leaves behind a son, Joel (Sue) Scarbrough of Plainfield, Ill., daughters Jody Baker and Amy Baker, both of Ankeny, and six grandchildren: Stacie Post, Zoe Baker, Zachary Baker Ostrand, Jackson Baker, Sydney Scarbrough, and Chase Scarbrough. She is further survived by four siblings: Rosemary Zummak of St. Louis, Mo.; Kevan (Shelley) Cortright of Denver, Colo., Steve Cortright of San Diego, Calif., and Gail Jacobs of Houston, Texas.

Cathy was preceded in death by her parents; two sisters, Eileen Herzog and Rosalie Kadavy; and two brothers, Mike Cortright and Dan Cortright.

The family wishes to thank the staff and volunteers at Kavanagh House and Mercy One for their kindness and compassionate care.

Memorials appreciated in lieu of flowers.


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