Dear family and friends

On Thursday morning 19 May, Shirley went be with Jesus her Lord and Saviour, who she loved. And although it is a sad time for us, we feel incredibly privileged to have loved and been loved by such a precious wife, Mum and Nan.

We are thankful for the way God has used Shirley’s life to bless so many. As a family, we are very grateful for all your expressions of love and support; we have so valued your prayers and have been greatly encouraged by the tributes and memories you have shared with us.

In the last few days of Mum's life we read these to her. Your tributes were a beautiful gift, that reminded Mum - and sweetly surprised her - that her life was one of significance. It bought her joy and real peace to know that her life has impacted yours, and she feels very humbled and grateful, that God has used her life for great effect, and His purpose, in so many of your lives.

A celebration of Shirley’s life was held on Saturday 28 May, 2pm at Eastview  Baptist Church, 559 Chapel Road, Botany, Auckland 2163

The following are links to Mum’s Service – should you wish to view it.

Part 1

Part 2

Shirley's life story, & tributes from her Memorial service are now loaded in "Her Life"

Thank you all, your words and stories are a treasure and comfort

John, Peter, Bronnie and Sue and families.

Posted by Janet Benge on May 19, 2021
Thinking of all the special times I had with Shirley - the laughter, the encouragement, the caring. You are always in my heart.
Posted by graeme hepworth on May 20, 2020
Yet more time has passed since you went home, but the warmth of your smile & the kindness of your heart remains.
Posted by Ken Rout on October 15, 2017
Love to John from Upper Hutt. Blessings on everyone
Posted by Andy Hepworth on October 15, 2017
Thinking of you John, and all your awesome family at this time :-)
May you continue to be blessed, and comforted, by the wonderful memories of Shirley, and the love of our Lord, Christ Jesus.
Posted by Andy Hepworth on May 19, 2017
1 year passed- the amazing memories are ever strong - as is the legacy of your beautiful passionate life- what a wonderful shining light of Jesus Christ.
Posted by Jessica Breski on June 14, 2016
I just heard of Shirley's passing. What a woman -- gentle, caring, humble, full of fun, loyal, hospitable, a woman who loved Jesus so much. The many times our paths crossed through Christian camping events around the world only impressed on me more her strong Christian testimony. The last time I saw her she and John hosted two of my friends and myself when we travelled from Toronto to NZ and stayed a few nights with them in Auckland -- she made the most amazing corned beef!
Posted by Reginald Baker on June 13, 2016
I cannot tell you how much pride we all have as grandkids when speaking to people who have had a life changing experience at El Rancho because of Mr & Mrs Baker. As kids we didn’t fully appreciate how huge their ministry at camp was – we all thought that camp and especially Nan + Poppa’s world revolved around us. Even now I still don't think we have truly realise the impact it has been for the Kingdom of God.

Nan always showed us grandkids a God that was not imprisoned by the constraints of religion but a God that you journeyed everyday life. A God who engaged people in love, a God who was cheeky, a God that was present. It speaks volumes that a lot of us grandkids were lead to Jesus by Nan, she loved with a love that could only come from the throne room of Heaven.

Nan’s life's work will continue to grow beyond her lifetime. Leaving a legacy of lives that have impacted who in turn have and will, go on to impact the lives of others. That's a legacy that we get to share in and count it as an honour to be their grandkids and great grandkids.
Before Nan passed, she gave me all of the sermons she had written over her many years of ministry, and in this box of wisdom I found this poem hand written on the back of an envelope:

“The Light of God, surrounds me
The Love of God, enfolds me
The Power of God, protects me
The Presence of God, watches over me
Wherever I am, God is.”

Nan we love you, we cherished your love for us and we are grateful we were all your favourites.
Posted by Nita Richardson on June 3, 2016
To John and family,
As a family, we were so blessed to have known the love and care from Shirley and yourself, John. You welcomed everyone with your graciousness and friendship and the tributes speak clearly of the love and respect we all had for you. Our God is faithful, and He assured me when John was killed, that He would walk beside me down through the years. He has done so and will do the same for you all in the days to come. Blessings, Nita, Julie, Brenda, Sue and Lynda
Posted by Tony Richardson on May 29, 2016
I always admired the way you were at El Rancho from when I first went in early 60s and later when camping annually, at Easter conventions and Church weekends - unflappable in all situations and yet always smiling caring and supportive of all.
Such an amazing person and contribution that lives on in so many including me and my children.
Muchas gracias.
Posted by graeme hepworth on May 29, 2016
Mr Baker; I respectfully suggest, that it is only NOW, that Mrs Baker truly can chant, with absolute confidence; "there ain't no flies on us, there ain't no flies on us....there may be flies on some of you guys, but there ain't no flies on us!" 
Thank you both, for everything.
Posted by Raewyn Paapu on May 27, 2016
Dear Shirley, It was always a joy to have you and John join us at our Baker, Wells and Parfitt cousin get togethers. The calm assurance with which you faced your passing to be with our heavenly Father, is an inspiration to me and many others
Posted by Bill and Jean Toohill on May 27, 2016
What a privilege and a blessing we have had in knowing Shirley for over 30 years. By her love, care and concern for those she knew, her life shone for the Lord she loved.
Indeed forever missed.
Our deepest sympathy and prayers to John and family
Posted by Liz Crighton on May 27, 2016
To John and Family
We were saddened to hear of Shirley's passing. We remember her always being so caring, supportive and interested in what was happening with our work at Forest Lakes and other Christian Camp sites. Her involvement in the Christian Camping scene and all she did with CCNZ has been a blessing to many. We know you will take comfort in the fact that she has gone to a better place with her Lord. Philippians 3:20-21.
With much love Bev Crighton, Denise and Warren Baillie and Grant and Liz Crighton
Posted by Lynne Parfutt on May 27, 2016
A life well lived. Rest in peace
Posted by Mike Garland on May 26, 2016
It was precious to be able to be in contact with Shirley just before she passed away. Thanks for helping with this Bronnie. This was my message-
“Dearest Shirley and John
I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much you have meant to me all of my adult life.
Even though we have not spent much time together in recent years, you have continued to be an inspiration in my life through my experience of your love, warmth, generosity and passion for serving God.
I remember when I showed up at El Rancho in ‘78, we seemed to hit it off.  You embraced me – helped me belong and grow strong roots of faith. I felt your trust and confidence in me, and that meant a lot to me. I felt like I was accepted as part of your extended family, and it has been a privilege over the years to celebrate many important moments in your family’s life.
I will be forever grateful for what you have invested in my life - and Esther and I will remember and cherish you always.
All our love
Mike and Esther Garland”
Posted by David Hill on May 25, 2016
From David and Pam Hill
John and family, ATribute to Shirley'
Shirley and John, you are very precious to us! You made our time at Birkenhead such a blessing. You were always ready to be our friends, "a listening ear and so eager to help in any way you could. Your being with us enabled us to accomplish so much.
John and family: May the Lord bless you richly in this time.
Posted by Peter van der Raaij on May 24, 2016
Dear John and family,
we were sorry to hear of Shirley's illness and now passing. Are thoughts and prayers are with you. We thank God for Shirley's life and faith. Thank you to both of you for belieiving in us.
Posted by Marianne Stewart on May 24, 2016
Malcolm and I treasure the memories we have of Shirley and John, way back in the 1960's, where we loved going to their home, as leaders to us teenagers. We loved catching up with you both again at El Rancho.
Our prayers go out to you John and the family.
Posted by William Drury - Turnbull on May 22, 2016
It saddens me here the passing of Shirley, yet at the same time I rejoice. I have fond memories of Shirley and John some twenty years back when they were the Directors of El Rancho. They both gave me, then a young manager, so much guidance. Shirley you were and still are locked in my heart and now that you have gone to be with our Lord, I am sure He will say "well done good and faithful servant". Thank you for touching my life and giving me great passion for Christian Camping. Your legacy lives on in many. Blessings William & Suzanne Drury - Turnbull
Posted by Tom McIvor on May 22, 2016
I used to attend camps as a young kid at El Rancho and John and Shirley were such a blessing to me and many others. They were truly beautiful people and served with such humility and love and knew how to work hard. Truly a great servant of God. Rewards will be great. I am in fulltime Christian ministry. Seeds were sown then.
Posted by Nardia Anderson-Jordan on May 22, 2016
It was 1978, and I had my 1st encounter with this precious lady. she was the dear soul that had the difficult task of taking me to their office, where my father and family waited to let me know my mother had passed. I stayed at the camp that weekend, and was ministered to by Shirley over those few days. I have never forgotten her, she impacted my life so much by showing me the heart of the Lord. the most critical time of my life then, was touched by this angel, walking around as Shirley Baker. My utmost condolences to the family.
Posted by Kitty Wake (Morrison) on May 21, 2016
What an absolute honour and privilege to have known Shirley and John Baker over the 10 years I attended camps at El Rancho. Such a special, hospitable, loving and honest lady with a super quick wit. Raised as a catholic, the teaching and friendship I received over that time has been the foundation stone for my christian faith. You will be missed by so many. Love and blessings to your family. Xx
Posted by Andy Hepworth on May 21, 2016
Your life, and marriage with John, your loving, joy-filled, servant leadership and hospitality have honoured and glorified Christ Jesus, and has been the most amazing marvelous witness and gift to us all.
Countless people have been blessed, brought closer to Christ, or won into the kingdom of God through your willingness to honour Christ with your life.
You have run the best race and fought the good fight. I would love to be there when Christ says "Well done, my good and faithful servant- enter into your rest".
Look forward to seeing you in heaven, with that gorgeous smile, and twinkle in your eyes :-) .
Posted by Mrs. Godfrey on May 21, 2016
Romans 6:23 For he wages sin pays is death,but the gift god gives is everlasting life by christ jesus our lord.
Posted by Marilyn Way on May 20, 2016
Dear John, Peter, Bronnie, Sue and families,

It was with a heavy heart that we received news of Shirley's passing. We also acknowledge though that she is in a wonderful place with her Lord and Saviour. What a life well lived and a legacy to make a difference in this world through service and love to others.

Richard and I remember with gratitude the support and mentoring from John and Shirley early in our family life and what special role models they were in portraying strong Christian values and a life of generosity and the importance of community living. We still remember with affection Shirley and John's passion for camping, the outdoors and a vision that benefits so many people in offering a place of respite and reflection from the day to day busyness and complexity of today's society.

Richard and I look back at the rich foundation we were privileged to be part of as we now still carrying forward many of the principles and values Shirley and John portrayed into our present day work. Richard and I now live in Brisbane. Richard works in aged care and I work in early childhood and adult education. We still run camps and are very involved in community work, particularly those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. We have never forgotten Shirley's amazing hospitality and her willingness to be a mother to many. We looked to Shirley and John on many occasions as parents and inspired by their example we have embraced extended family life in our own home and within our relationships with others.  

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time.

With love and best wishes,

Marilyn and Richard
Posted by Alison Barbour on May 20, 2016
Ian and I send our love, prayers and thoughts to you John and your family. Shirley's beautiful smile, and caring nature will be very much missed. You are an inspirational couple, and have been our role models for such a long time.
Posted by Jillaine Kelly on May 20, 2016
We have such wonderful memories of our time spent at El Rancho with you both and the many other interesting and wonderful people that worked and visited. One of the things I think about a lot is the ability you both have to make everyone feel loved and accepted for the person that they are. Neither of you seemed to judge others and Shirley your hugs used to make the days seem so much brighter. John I just loved your quick wit and big grin. I remember John you telling me once how you used to have a really bad temper as a younger man, I really thought you were having me on because I never saw that in you. Instead I saw a gentle, wise and loving man with a heart for serving Jesus. What an amazing example you have been to us. we have watched as you loved your wife and family, loved God and served him passionately, and cared about everyone you met. I remember once I was walking to the kitchen with Helene, she must have been about 5. We reached the dock at the back of the kitchen at the same time as you. Helene looked up at you and said "I have a book about you at home." You said "Have you dear?" Helene said "Yes it's called Old Bear." At the time I was mortified and wondered why Helene would compare you to a book about Old Bear. I understand why though. Old Bear was the wisest toy in the nursery, he loved all the other toys and looked out for them all. He was gentle and kind and had some very good ideas. He never ridiculed the other toys and let them learn from doing things their way, allowing them to make mistakes. He related to everyone that came to the nursery. I see now why Helene saw you as "Old Bear."
Shirley, you taught me how to serve God on the days when things were tough. The love and trust you have for Jesus taught me how to trust him also. I loved to listen to you talk about praying and sharing the answers you had for prayer. I loved to observe you nurturing the leaders and bringing out the best in them. You saw strengths and gifts in us all that we did not see in ourselves. Thank you both for serving so long and effectively and being such great role models to us.
Posted by Graeme Knox on May 19, 2016
It is great sadness that I read about Shirley, but at the same time rejoice knowing that she is with our Lord and Saviour.
I remember turning up to El Rancho after a difficult time and ended up working there for a year and leading kids camps etc and how Shirley, John and the family took me in. Even after leaving, getting married and having children she still took a great interest in our lives.
Our thoughts are with John and the family at this time
Graeme and Gill
Posted by Joanne Marsden on May 19, 2016
Dear Bakers she was such an amazing lady, it was her who partly discipled me when I was a 9 year old at El Rancho when I made my commitment to Jesus and it was through knowing John and Shirley that I became a leader at the camp too many years later, to the family at this time my love goes out to you as you grieve the loss of a beloved mother, wife and Nan, Love from Joanne
Posted by Ann Mclean on May 19, 2016
Dear John and family,
It has been a privilege to be part of dear Shirley's journey. She amazed me, each time I visited...the light of Christ just shone from her eyes. What a loving supporting family you are. I have been blessed by you, and am sure will continue to be as I meet with you at Summerset Village in the time ahead. May God continue to lead and guide you all as you travel life's journey.
Posted by Alyssa Scarlet on May 19, 2016
Mrs Baker was someone you just always subconsciously looked out for when visiting El Rancho. You knew you'd be greeted with a warm smile, twinkling eyes and genuine joy and delight to see you.

Mrs Baker, your sense of fun, kindness and love to those who crossed your path is such a testament to the Lord in you. You are such an amazing lady, your legacy is really endless. I hope you find comfort in knowing your life was one so well lived, that has touched countless others who can't wait to give you a big hug in eternity!

Much love,


P.S. In asking around for comments, Jarrod Seaton who was a cadet back in the 90's had this to say: "I remember Shirley always being the one to slyly pass us cadets the wet towel or food to throw, and then standing back to watch the fun. Always in the mischief , always up for a prank. John and Shirley are my heroes to this day."
Posted by Dan Carter on May 19, 2016
So many fond memories dating from the 1960s on from the Carter clan in Waikanae. Blessings to all the Baker clan, from John and Mary Carter, and Dan and Diane.
Posted by Heather-Mary MacKenzie on May 18, 2016
Our yearly holiday was Easter Convention at El Rancho.  We knew we had arrived (at some very late hours) when we were once again greeted by Shirley and John. What wonderful memories were created for our nine children and the extra young people we took with us. Shirley you always will have my love and respect. Our Lord be with you. Heather-Mary, for Alastair and the MacKenzie Clan.
Posted by Lynn Whitlock on May 18, 2016
Hi Shirley
It is many years since I last saw you, in Auckland. However, you, John and your family have often been in our thoughts. You were both wonderful role models to me as a teenager, in Wanganui. Always, bright and cheerful and Shirley you always had a welcoming smile, that I'll never forget! Us teenagers never seemed to upset you and your home was always open to us. - you even trusted us to 'babysit' your wee ones! Thank you for your obedience to our Lord and allowing Him to use you to touch the lives of many Wanganui youth in the 60's.
God Bless you.
Till we meet again,
Your sister in Christ,
Lynn (Whitlock, née Britton)
Posted by John Ansley on May 18, 2016
Hi Shirley. Thank you for the impact that you and John had on us as teenagers in Wanganui. Thank you for the Labour Weekend Camps at Maxwell School, for the fun times and the learning times. Thank you both for being examples of how to be a Christian 7 days a week.
Posted by Bruce Candy on May 18, 2016
Shirley, you and John mentored and encouraged me for 14 years. Thank you. One thing I heard you say often, particularly to camping people in hard places, was to "Bloom where you are planted".
You have always bloomed and smiled and loved. You have touched and encouraged the lives of many. And they in turn have touched and encouraged the lives of many more. I think Jesus is smiling. Well done.
Posted by Bessy Macotto on May 18, 2016
John and Shirley, I send you a big hug from Honduras. Praying for you. Love you so much. Thank you for love and support during your time with CCNZ and CCIAL. Thanks for your friendship.
Bessy Macotto
Posted by Diana Hardy on May 18, 2016
Dear Shirley, I wonder if you realise what an inspiration you have been to so many of as we have watched you love your Lord, Your very dear husband John, your natural family, your Christian family and so many people who have been unloved that have come into your life through camp and other ways and who have been touched by you. May we all be encouraged by the way you have lived your life to look at the way we live ours, God bless.
Posted by Judy Evans on May 18, 2016
My first introduction to John and Shirley was in June 1985 when I first visited New Zealand, attending the Christian Camping New Zealand Conference in the South Island (can't remember the camp name). I stayed with the Bakers for a few days before travelling across on the ferry from Wellington with the El Rancho staff plus a few others. Oh what fun we had at that conference and if there were any shenanigans happening, it was Shirley who seemed to be involved in organising it. Short sheeting guest's beds or even taking the bed out to the field in winter, and to me, Shirley put so much rice in my suitcase, I had it falling out of that bag for months after! Shirley's sense of humour stood out, yet for me her genuine love from me (an Aussie) I will always be indebted. Thanks for the wonde full memories!
Posted by Ann Clausen on May 18, 2016
I always remember the years when we used to camp in the Dell with friends and Shirley,s wonderful smile and greeting for several years in a row, and the year while we were there hearing that they were looking for more camp staff . We talked to John and Shirley and they suggested we hang back on the day we packed up our gear to have an interview. That was to change our families lives We spent the next 13yrs there. Also Thanks Shirley for the wonderful support and comforting words at time we lost Peter he will be part of your welcoming party as many of your other friends will also be
Posted by Kevin Futter on May 18, 2016
I called at the El Rancho Christian bookshop with Christian products on a number of occasions during the years I worked at G.P.H. Shirley and John were never too busy to make me a coffee and to sit down and look through all the latest Christian books. They never made me feel as though I was a nuisance, although I was aware how busy they were. Thank you for the warm welcome and lovely smile Shirley.
Posted by Ian Joce Kearney on May 18, 2016
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
Dear John and Shirley, how wonderful that we can share precious memories of you both on this page. Particularly to you at this time Shirley. You are leaving an amazing legacy not only for your own family but for many, many other families. You always show God's delight and joy in your life. Thank you both for the legacy you have shown to our family over many years. We love you heaps and pray that the stages of life to come are precious for you all. Ian and Joce xx
Posted by Margaret Kimpton on May 18, 2016
Dear Shirley, We first met 48 years ago.We have been in contact often over the years and neighbours at Forrest Hill.You continually amaze us with your bright ,godly spirit on so many occasions,You have been an inspiration to us, Margaret and David Kimpton,
Posted by Darryl Gardiner on May 18, 2016
Wonderful couple. Wonderful woman.
Posted by Evelyn Shepherd on May 18, 2016
Dear Shirley & John, I will never forget your kindness & prayers when we had to return to Australia suddenly, when Garth's father had not long to live.  You were such a comfort to us & your prayers upheld us.
May God uphold you as you go on this journey.  Garth has gone on ahead 7 years ago.  The parting is not forever, Praise God! Evie
Posted by Clint Dredge on May 18, 2016
For the 18 months I lived at camp as a young Christian you where both such an example for me and also encouraged me on my new journey.
I count it as a privilege to have had you both as my "Mum and Dad" at that time.
As i write this all I can see in my mind is Shirley laughing the way only Shirley could.
Love you both
Posted by gordon campbell on May 18, 2016
we remember your welcoming smile at christian camping conferences
You encouraged us in our camping ministry,
Thankyou for being a wonderful lady
Gordon and Patty Campbell
Posted by Chris Booth on May 18, 2016
Shirley you are an amazing woman who made a huge impact on many young lives including mine. Was a real privilege to not only work with you, but also live under your roof. At a time when I needed family I couldn't have been in a better one. Bruce and I certainly got up to some hi-jinks which you took with such amazing grace. Love Chris and Stephanie
Posted by Jane-Mark Hickman on May 18, 2016
Hi my name is Jane Hickman nee Turner, as a large family of 8 we headed to Easter camp each year for many years. My mum and dad Doug and Audrey brought us to camp and we enjoyed many a year. I remember Shirley and John fondly. They both had a welcoming smile, they encouraged my dad so much with his OAC ministry. Mum and Dad are both with the Lord and I can just imagine when another believer joins them they have a great time, and are at such peace that we cannot explain. To your family be encouraged that we will all be together again forever
Posted by dale Hardy on May 18, 2016
Shirley, "thankyou" thank you for being such a great wife, a great mum, a wonderful grandma and friend. Thank you for opening your life and heart to sooooo, many people. Thank you for your wonderful ability to make everyone in your presence feel so valued and accepted. You have lived life so well, so much love to you ,praying for you all the way.
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Recent Tributes
Posted by Janet Benge on May 19, 2021
Thinking of all the special times I had with Shirley - the laughter, the encouragement, the caring. You are always in my heart.
Posted by graeme hepworth on May 20, 2020
Yet more time has passed since you went home, but the warmth of your smile & the kindness of your heart remains.
Posted by Ken Rout on October 15, 2017
Love to John from Upper Hutt. Blessings on everyone
Recent stories

Friends forever

Shared by Bill and Jean Toohill on May 27, 2016

The last time we were all together what a legacy

The Funny Book

Shared by Bruce Candy on May 18, 2016

Shirley, did you know you were the first entry in El Rancho's much loved funny book?! The Camp Bookshop was Shirley's pride and joy. One morning a distinguished looking customer from a conference that was in came to the counter with a book to purchase. Shirley lit up and commented on what a great book it was and that perhaps he would be able to start on the book if the conference speaker was boring. (cue shirleys grin and eye twinkle)  He replied "Ma'am I am the speaker. "

Another time the America's Cup was on TV in the Baker's lounge and Shirley was trying to manage a stocktake with all its numbers, prices and lists, and keep an eye on the yachting. It was getting very exciting and Shirley rushed between lounge and shop announcing "KZ7's $1.20 ahead at the top mark!"

Once, on the phone, for a breakfast news and support call with Ben and Lynn  from CYC the line suddenly went dead. It turns out whilst Shirley and Ben were talking his phone cord stretched across the toaster and it melted right through the wires!

I don't think I was on the end of any of your practical jokes but now I know why Chris and I got into so many scrapes - you passed the baton onto us!  
By the way we are really sorry about that wild duck we released in your spare bedroom to teach those girl leaders (Judith and Michelle) a lesson. That duck pooh really does splatter doesn't it. Mind you that orange wall paper was pretty old. Thanks for going easy on us.
So many great and rich memories. Love you Shirley. 


Shared by Ken Rout on May 17, 2016

The first time I went to speak at El Rancho it was in the old house - Pete was away so I was loaned his bed - even though there was quite a contrast in my size and Pete's.  I learned to sleep zigzag!  The enjoyment of that house was that at the end of the day John and Shirley would take turns at having a shower.  The other would stand outside and share the camp news of the day - good and bad.  Later, moving into the new house my main disappointment was that they had an en suite as part of their bedroom and I was starved of the news of the day!  I was blessed over many years to have my headquarters in that room next door - and miraclulously all my left behind belongings all got into the wardrobe in that room.  Shirley always assured me that anyone who was given the privilege of sleeping in that room would be warned that the wardrobe was out of bounds.  Thanks Shirl!!!!!!  Much love.