January 12, 1944 – April 20, 2023
Stephen Charles Baer, age 79, passed away peacefully at his home in Payson, Utah, on April 20, 2023. His death was due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease and accompanying dementia.
Stephen was born in Oakland, California, on January 12, 1944, to Theodore Joseph Baer Jr. and Mavis Afton Shirley, the youngest of their five children. He grew up in Berkeley, California, attending the public schools there and graduated from Berkeley High School in 1961. As the youngest in the family, he had to learn to sing harmony, because his older siblings quickly took the melody.
Music played a prominent role in his life from his childhood. When he was in the 9th Grade, he played the role of Frederick in a school production of “Pirates of Penzance”. The path to music as a profession was inspired when, as a junior, his high school choir was one of many in California selected to perform at the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley in 1960. During his mission to Uruguay in 1963-1966, he was part of “The Mormon Quintet”, a group of missionaries that traveled and performed throughout Uruguay and Argentina for seven months. During that time, he learned of the power of music to open doors and touch hearts.
After completing his mission, Stephen returned to BYU in Provo, Utah, where he continued his studies toward a bachelor’s degree in music education. While there, he met Susan Rae Sorensen from Malad, Idaho. They were married mid-way through their senior year in January of 1968 in the Salt Lake Temple. They both completed their student teaching and graduated together in August of that same year. Four days later they were living in Kennewick, Washington, where Stephen began teaching choir at Park Jr. High School. From 1970 to 1973 he spent his summers back at BYU, earning a master’s degree. His love of directing choirs continued at Kamiakin High School, 1970-1984, Columbia Basin College, 1984-1993, Kennewick High School, 2002-2005, and finally at Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho from 2005-2010, when he retired. He also worked as Director of Student Programs at Columbia Basin College from 1993-2000 and as Central Washington Community Director for March of Dimes from 2000-2002.
Stephen was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in many capacities from teacher to executive secretary to the Stake President. He was bishop of the Kennewick Third Ward from 1980-1985. He also served as a counselor in the Kinport Branch Presidency at the women’s prison in Pocatello from 2014-2016. Along the way he directed many ward, stake, and regional choirs, including choirs for the dedications of the Seattle and Columbia River Temples. Stephen and Susan served together in the baptistry of the Columbia River Temple, were service missionaries in the Pocatello, Idaho Stake, and were missionaries together in the Family and Church History Headquarters Mission in Salt Lake City, where among other responsibilities, Stephen directed the 80 voice Elijah Choir from 2016 to 2017.
Stephen’s hobbies were mostly centered around music. He belonged to a number of civic performing groups and choirs through the years including Richland Light Opera, Columbia Chorale, the Columbia River Tugboat Company (barbershop quartet), and most recently Camerata Singers in Pocatello, Idaho. He shared his beautiful tenor voice at countless weddings, funerals and guest performances, including the “Berlioz Requiem” at Carnegie Hall in New York City under the direction of Robert. He enjoyed the outdoors, especially hikes into scenic mountain areas or visiting places along the Oregon coast. He also liked to travel abroad, making several trips to countries in Europe, South America, and Asia.
Stephen is survived by his wife of 55 years, Susan; his six children: Shannon (Blake) Edwards of Fruitland, UT; Jeremy (Natalie) Baer, Providence, UT; Heather (Tyler) Stinson, Payson, UT; Joshua (Ashlie) Baer, El Dorado Hills, CA; Megan (Ryan) Haslam, Valencia, CA; Joel (Kimberly) Baer, Midway, UT; 24 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, Theodore Baer and Richard Baer, and his sisters, Shirley Millgate and Linda Mayberry.
A memorial service for Stephen will be held in Malad, Idaho, on Friday, April 28th, 2023 at 1:00 pm at the Second Ward Chapel, 20 South 100 West. Visitation will begin at 12:00 pm prior to the service. A burial will follow the service at the Malad City Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the March of Dimes or the LDS Humanitarian or Mission Funds.
We wish to thank the kind therapists at Mountain Land Physical Therapy, the caring nurses and doctors at Mountain View Hospital, and the staffs at Parkway Health and Rocky Mountain Hospice for all they have done for Stephen in the past few months.
Condolences can be offered at www.springcreekmortuary.com.