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Bright Light to Many, Marcia Worth-Baker is Remembered

Marcia Worth-Baker

The South Orange/Maplewood and surrounding communities were left reeling by the news of the sudden passing of Marcia Worth-Baker on Sunday, Sept. 13.

An educator, journalist, historian, coupon queen, New York Times blogger, cancer survivor, active community and school volunteer, Zumba lover, swap meet fan, and most importantly, wife and mother of three, Marcia touched many lives in her nearly 49 years of life.

She is survived by her family, including husband, David; children Abigail, James and Charles; parents Catherine T. Dwan and Larry D. Worth; stepfather Donald A. Dwan and brother, John D. Worth. Read more in her obituary here.

Marcia’s memorial service is Sunday, Sept. 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Morrow Memorial Church (600 Ridgewood Road, Maplewood, NJ). In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to Morrow Church UMW for mission outreach at morrowchurch.org. In addition, her friends have started a Meal Train for her family.

Her family is in the process of constructing a website with links to all of her written work.

The Village Green asked people who knew Marcia — and there are many — to contribute memories and anecdotes about her and what she meant to them.

But first, a personal memory: When I met Marcia in 2011, one of the first stories she assigned me was a piece on how locals were celebrating the royal wedding. I considered it no small victory that Marcia – a devoted and knowledgeable Anglophile – loved the article.

After I became editor of Maplewood Patch, she and I were a close-knit duo during a frequently tumultuous year. Our daily phone calls were about work, but they were also about kids, food, life. I admired her lightening speed as a writer, her quirky sense of humor, her extreme love of Able Baker cookies.

Marcia had an essential humanity that shone through everything she did and a strong moral compass that guided her through even the toughest stories. I learned from her that often the story is secondary to the lives impacted. I will miss her more than words can say.

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“Marcia was not only a warm, caring and nurturing teacher, but she also gave our son the gift of confidence in himself; of being comfortable with what made him stand out from the crowd. She taught him how to have pride in who he is, and they shared a love of books and of humor. Many of us have that one teacher that was able to connect with us and draw out our unlimited potential, and for our son we know that will always be Marcia. She was a truly special person and so many of us are lucky that our children were able to know her.” — Ana Maria Quintero and Damien Zoubek

“She really touched the lives of so many students at Far Brook. She loved Shakespeare and our rich core curriculum. She encouraged students to pursue their rich reading and writing lives, always sharing her work with them and championing them on their own individual journey of finding their voice.” — Amy Ziebarth, Far Brook Head of School

“Marcia was a great colleague to many of us at Newark Academy. I will certainly remember the fun times that we had performing in our ‘Rookie Review’ (that Marcia wrote!), talking at the lunch table, or just in the mailroom. It was in a mailroom  encounter that we discovered that we both had a shopping bag fetish. It is no joke that I think of her each time I see my stack of bags in the basement. It’s nice to know that they finally serve a purpose other than taking up space; they will serve as a reminder of our friendship.” — Debbie Ronan, chair of Language Dept.

“Marcia and I shared a lot of coffee and walks in the woods from the time we met in 2009. One of the things I loved about Marcia was that there was no small talk. From the beginning, we could share our highs and lows, as if we’d always known each other. We had daughters the same age and we listened and shared advice as they went from the same middle to high schools and on to college. Like so many of her friends, I will miss our talks, her smile and her brave and positive spirit, both in my life and in our community.” — Laura Griffin, former Millburn Patch editor

“Marcia was always looking out for me from the moment we met in college to the last year of her life. She always did it in the most quiet and humble way. In college she arranged for me to write a movie review in the college newspaper so I would be eligible to join her on a young journalist’s tour of the former Soviet Union. She opened her apartment to me in Cambridge, MA and I lived on her couch for close to 6 months. She arranged a food train for my family after I spent 10 days in the hospital. She always came to my art openings and whenever possible wrote about them for various local news outlets. Very few people can see past the chaos of their own lives to be totally on your side. Marcia was one of those rare people who did.” — Sybil Archibald

“It is rare to find a writer with the enthusiasm of Marcia. Match that with impeccable skills and she was the rarest of breeds – that was Marcia. I will miss her laugh and her joy and her ‘all in’ attitude to whatever we were working on. Our readers responded to her gift of storytelling. Stories that she personally and thoroughly relished – that of the history and the people of her beloved towns. She will be missed by so many.”  — Karen Duncan, publisher, Matters Magazine

“[Marcia] left her mark on me. I wanted to be more like her because Marcia lived her values. Her family was the most important part of her life. She talked about her husband and children in such loving ways I felt like I knew all of them. She was brilliant and hilarious. When she looked at you with that Marcia smile you knew that she was on to you or completely understood your point. She was a helpful, caring and thoughtful colleague. I will miss the wise way she navigated life and lived her values every day in her actions and her insightful writing.” — Beth Sparacino, Newark Academy

“When you think of our beloved community, you think of Marcia and what a blessing she was to everyone who met her. And she met everyone! I have been asked to attend her memorial service by the parent of one of her students who she inspired and encouraged to read when no one else could, by a parent of her oldest son’s best friend who had Marcia’s support and love when going through challenging family times, and by co-workers at the South Orange Library where her daughter was a page. And swapping…Marcia never met an item that couldn’t be reused. We probably reswapped our own items back at some point. Marcia was the one with a way with words. I can only poorly attempt to convey what a amazing woman we have lost.” — Nancy Chiller Janow, South Orange Public Library

“Marcia was committed to the Turnover Sale at Morrow in many ways. She spent countless hours sorting children’s clothing and bearing hot and crowded sale events with a huge smile, and generosity and care. She helped Morrow connect to communities, using her skills to promote the sale and getting the word out in Creole and Spanish. She loved that beautiful donations found new life. She loved helping people find just the right thing. She loved that the proceeds helped support women’s and children’s programs in the community. She brought light and love to the sale.” —  Rev. Brenda Ehlers, Morrow Memorial Church

I will miss her and her wonderful energy
I will miss seeing her at girl scout events.
I will miss her at the Morrow Church sale.
I will miss her wonderful writing.
I will miss her. — Joy Yagid

“Ever since a teacher suggested in first grade [that our sons should be friends] Marcia Worth has been an integral part of our life. Marcia was the kind of person who cares for other people’s children as her own. She saw kids as individuals, nurtured their interests, and built their confidence. She recommended just the right book to spark an interest in reading. She gave (or made) the birthday gift that perfectly captured a child’s personality. She e-mailed you the best pictures of your own children. Marcia went out of her way to support the activities and causes that matter most to her children, and to their friends. She helped teens find jobs, edited countless college essays, and sent college students care packages. Marcia lent an empathetic ear to any child who needed to talk.

Marcia cared this way for everyone. She listened to people… She connected people and strengthened her many social networks. We have lost Marcia unexpectedly, but the bonds she established will lend strength to her children, to our children, and to everyone she cared for.” — Anthony Ewing

“Marcia: Funny how you asked for my help and then gave me a most beautiful gift in return. I understand humility and grace through you. Your light, smile and laughter are loud and clear. With love.” — Gena Rho-Smith

“Marcia was loved by our community. If you took everything that’s good in this world and put it into one person, it would be Marcia.” — Sheena Collum, South Orange Village President.

“Marcia Worth [was] to me a truly and wholly good person. [Before hearing of her death] I posted a comment about appreciating a view even when it isn’t so bright and clear…this news has made the view a lot less sunny and bright today, but I really appreciated knowing her. And I appreciate the community she helped make a brighter place.” — Hank Zona

“I spent two years working elbow to elbow with Marcia, wrangling our way through marathon Board of Education meetings and getting all the news in Maplewood and South Orange covered. She was of one the kindest people I ever met. Unbelievably intelligent — and thoughtful in the truest sense: She never acted rashly or without consideration of others. I am stunned and shaking. I loved her.” — Mary Mann, VillageGreenNJ.com

“In trying to make sense of this, I’ve been going over in my head all the many things that Marcia did indeed have a chance to enjoy. Her family, of course, her community of friends here in South Orange/Maplewood, the library, Girl Scouts, Downton Abbey, all things English really, pearls, Lilly Pulitzer fashion, Paterson, digging into historical documents, her alma mater Mount Holyoke, teaching, reading, writing, Columbia High School a capella, the Morrow Church turnover sale.” — Marilyn Joyce Lehren, former editor Livingston Patch

“I’ve been looking through pictures Marcia took of my kids, remembering the friend who was always ready to make a day into an adventure. Just the other week, we drove to Edgewater to the Japanese supermarket just because that seemed like a fun thing to do. One of my favorites, though is when Marcia made the cake [for my daughter’s birthday] and worked for days figuring out how to get those horsies to stand up in the frosting.

“She was a thoughtful person and I know that life could be hard for her, but when she had time for me, we always had fun. Her eyes always sparkled with tremendous joy. I remember that she made me deeply deeply happy, that she always made me feel like it was going to be okay, that she made my struggles seem easy to surmount and made my joys richer. She and I were born on the same day. What a friend. A friend of my heart.” — Anne Fernald

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