Laura J. Baker
Laura J. Baker, loving wife, mother, sister, and aunt passed away Sunday July 19, 2020 after a 27-month struggle with brain cancer.
Laura Jeanne Hoesterey was born October 30, 1961 in Rochester, NY, the youngest of 7 children of Kenneth Julius Hoesterey and Dorothy Barry Hoesterey. The family moved to Orange County, CA in 1966. As a young girl, she discovered her love of performing and singing. Her beautiful singing voice was a treasure to all who heard her sing. She was a member of the Madrigals choir at Foothill High in Tustin, CA and cherished the memories of her choir’s trip to Europe in the summer of 1978.
Laura knew from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher. While attending Santa Ana College, she volunteered at a school for the deaf and hard of hearing as she participated in its sign language program. That sparked her desire to work with special needs children. She received her Associate of Arts Diploma in 1983, then enrolled at UCSB in the fall where she received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1987. The high point of Laura’s UCSB experience was working in food services in the Olympic Village at UCSB during the 1984 Summer Olympics. Working concurrently on her General Education and Special Education teaching credentials at CSUN, she graduated with honors in 1990. In the fall of 1991, she began her 22-year career as teacher in the Santa Barbara School district.
“Ms. Baker” touched numerous lives throughout her teaching career. She worked tirelessly to help her students reach their full potential, often going to bat for kids who needed more services. Throughout her life, she advocated for parents of special needs children and fought for their due rights. As a Learning Handicaps Specialist, she co-authored with her sister, Karla Rogers, a parent advocacy guide on how to successfully obtain educational services for children with neuro-immune disease.
Health challenges impacted Laura’s life from an early age. Never one to complain or allow such challenges to stop her from reaching her goals, she educated herself about her conditions. She joined the NLN (National Lymphedema Network) and became active in the FDRS (Fat Disorders Research Society) where she served as an officer and was instrumental in organizing their international medical conferences.
Laura enjoyed traveling and had a variety of interests: she loved animals, was a seamstress, an expert cake decorator, taught water aerobics, dabbled in stained glass, and always sang! Despite worsening physical challenges later in life, Laura maintained a positive outlook and was the emotional center of her family.
In her own words, Laura wrote, “I met and bonded with many colleagues, students, and parents during my tenure. Being a good teacher and making a difference in my students’ lives was the most rewarding thing for me besides being a wife and mom. My husband, John, and daughter, Katie, are my world. I love them dearly.”
Preceded in death by her parents and brother, Ron, Laura is survived by her husband of 29 years, John Baker, daughter, Katie Baker, sister Karla Rogers and brothers Dick, Ken, Paul, and Roger Hoesterey. She is sorely missed!