In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations student scholarships be made to:
John C. Smith University
100 Beatties Ford Road
Charlotte, North Carolina 28216
(her alma mater and HBCU)
In Memory Of
BERTHA J. BAKER WOODS
Bertha Jane Baker Woods was born on April 20th, 1942 to Mozzell McCullough Baker and Wilfred Garfield Baker, Sr. in Conover, North Carolina. She was the middle child and only daughter born to this couple; however, she later found out that she had another older brother with whom she shared a close bond.
Bertha completed her elementary and high school education in the Catawba County school system graduating a year early and at the top of her class. Bertha, or “Tiny” as family called her, wanted more than what her high school education alone could achieve. Consequently, she dreamed of going to college, and despite knowing that this would be a financial struggle, she worked hard at menial jobs that were given to Black women at that time and appreciated the opportunities and assistance that others who saw her potential gave to her. This philosophy of “paying it forward” is something that she continued throughout her life, not only in the career she chose as a social worker, but also in the choices of ministries in which she chose to participate. She was always grateful for the assistance of those who saw her need and potential, and as a result, helped her to stay in college and receive her undergraduate degree.
Not long after receiving her Bachelor’s in Sociology from Johnson C. Smith University (Class Elite of ’64), Bertha came to New York City. After a few changes of address, in the late 1960s she eventually settled in Brooklyn where she lived the rest of her life.
In 1968, Bertha married Dr. Jerry Nathaniel Woods, who preceded her in death three months ago. They had a daughter, Dr. Ericka C. Woods, three years after marrying. Their marriage lasted about four years, and Bertha raised Ericka as a devoted single parent. When Ericka had a near death experience at the age of 21, Bertha was the instrumental force in healing the relationship between father and daughter. She set an example of how not to be a bitter single mother. Over time, Bertha and Jerry developed a unique and good friendship, and surely, he’s there now to welcome her home.
Those who knew Bertha know that she was a very social and outgoing person as well as a hat queen. She had a hat for every occasion. She also loved her church (St. Paul Community Baptist Church) as well as traveling, going to Broadway shows (at a discount), spending time with friends and family, cooking and baking. One could say she was born with the perfect last name of Baker given all the cake and pie requests she had filled over her life. She loved every ministry she was involved in over the years – LAMBS, Social Justice, Daytime Ministry, Women’s Ministry, to name a few.
Even when in pain or fatigued from the various illnesses she had to suffer through, she would still find the time and wherewithal to do what she could, whether it be holiday dinners, something for the church or to help a young person. Yet, in spite of all these things that she thoroughly enjoyed, to use some of her last words, her daughter, Ericka, was her “greatest pride and joy.” She often said that “Since God gave me a child -- a child I wanted -- to me, I’m accountable so I have to give [you] back to Him,” because she believed being a mom was her most important job, often giving up promotions in various agencies within New York City’s Department of Social Services that she believed would interfere with her ability to be a good parent. Despite these financial sacrifices, when she was in her fifties, she returned to graduate school and attained her LCSW, retiring in 2002 as a Level III Supervisor with ACS’s (Administration for Children Services) Family Preservation Program.
Though predeceased by her parents, and her oldest and younger brothers: Ernest McCullough and Vernon Baker, Bertha leaves to honor and cherish her memory, her daughter Dr. Ericka C. Woods (Alphonso Myles) of New York; her brother Wilfred G. Baker, Jr.; a niece Catreena Baker (Marvin Young); a nephew Alvin Baker; two aunts: Estelle Wilson and Mary Connor; a special “daughter” Kameko Jones, and “son” James Ervin; as well as a host of other nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, cousins, other relatives, church members and friends.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Bertha Jane Baker Woods, please visit our floral store.