Anita Marie Lucas Baley, formerly of Cave Springs, Clarksville, and most recently Fayetteville, joined her husband, Robert “Bob” Baley, in heaven on August 25, 2020, at the age of 86 after a long illness. Born during the Depression, Anita was the second of six children born to Bernice and John Lucas of Streator, Illinois. Right from the beginning she was social, spunky, and determined. When she was three, she would often cross the road to visit her friend Mary, though she knew she would be in trouble if she got caught. When the family later moved to Cicero, Illinois, houses were so close to each other she could talk to her girlfriend by just leaning out the window or running a string between two tin cans. She graduated from J. Sterling Morton High School and worked at a local theater to earn tuition for St. Ann’s Teaching Hospital in Chicago. She graduated as a registered nurse from the 3 year diploma program.
Anita met her future husband at the wedding of a good friend. Bob was a wonderful dancer, and he swept her off her feet and into the busy life of an Air Force spouse. Their first tour together was at Ft. Meade, Maryland, where their first two daughters were born. When Bob was reassigned to Misawa AB, Japan, Anita remained behind to work as a factory nurse. She paid her mother to watch the girls while she worked, and when she left for Japan to rejoin Bob, her mother gifted her with the babysitting money so she could call home any time she wanted.
In Japan Anita took full advantage of her first trip abroad, studying the Japanese language and flower arranging. With the skill of a natural teacher she taught her daughters (who now numbered four) how to sing and dance, read, count, identify and grow plants.
When her husband received a remote assignment to Shemya, Alaska, she took advantage of the opportunity to again live near her family in Illinois, where daughter number five arrived. Berlin, Germany was Anita’s favorite Air Force assignment. The Baley apartment (or “Halfway House”) hosted many friends in their year of residence, and she made sure the girls experienced the German culture, foods and sweets.
When Bob retired from the Air Force, they moved to Oark and then Clarksville, Arkansas. The family of 7 lived in their travel trailer while building their dream home. Anita took a job at Mickel’s Nursing Home, balancing her days between work for the nursing home, work at the house and raising five strong, independent girls. She sang and danced and created a warm and loving home.
Anita retired as the Administrator of the Johnson County Health Department and was well known in the community, presenting information to high school students, providing inoculations to children and advice to young mothers. She was a warm and considerate leader, running the unit with the same nurturing skills she had shared with her siblings and children. Her co-workers said she could calm any crying baby and was “a living testament to how the world and people in it should be.” Upon her retirement she and Bob built another house in Northwest Arkansas to be closer to family.
Anita was a devout Catholic and served as a Eucharistic minister. She served as treasurer for the Arkansas DAV local and state chapters, volunteered with the Red Cross and was dedicated to caring for military veterans. Anita was a passionate Arkansas Razorback basketball fan. Her love of tennis spanned playing the game to attending the U.S. Open tournament twice. She loved craft fairs, and enjoyed chatting with the artisans. She was our Sunshine and filled the lives of the people who knew her with laughter, song and love. She will be greatly missed.
Anita is survived by her five daughters, Kathleen Finnegan (Michael) of Leesburg, Virginia, Laura Bazyk (Mark) of Springdale, Michelle Cummin of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Noreen Baley of Greensboro, North Carolina, Jackie Anderson(Dennis) of West Fork; two sisters, Cathy Rennert (Jack Ream), and Nancy Gall; three brothers, Jim (Dorothy) Lucas, Robert (Wendy) Lucas, and Andy(Beth) Lucas; 16 grandchildren, Breana(Rick), Kyle, Mikaela (Josh), Ryan, Leigh, Matthew (Julianne), Nathan (Casey), Alyssa, Lucas, Andy, Peter, Henry, Anthony, Timothy, Terry (Crystal), and Dustin(Meagan); and ten great-grandchildren, Easton, Asher, Richard, Landon, Aiden, Richie, Keira, Oliver, Wyatt and Beckham.
The family would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Amy Irwin, Dr. Michael Green, Dr. Bilal Naeem, Morningside of Springdale, Avenir of Fayetteville, Dr’s Bradley and Thomas and the staff of Willard Walker Hospice Home for their professional loving care of Anita during her extended illness.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association 5506 West Walsh Lane, #212 Rogers AR, 72758.