Baiba Glassford has come to live with us at Caring House. We’re honored.
There’s a lot to know about Baiba that this history doesn’t really address. She’s clever and funny, also sensitive about others. Her favorite nickname is “Babsie” and she names “getting into trouble” as a favorite activity.
Born in Cēsis, Latvia, during the dark days of WW II, Baiba is the only surviving child of Hugo and Helena Kerpe. She remembers a younger sister, Māra, who died during the family’s escape from Latvia.
Her early years, as for many millions, were not in a happy time for Europe. When she was born, her father’s family already was gone (half to Siberia courtesy of the Soviets). Her immediate family escaped the Red Terror with the help of departing German troops. Then by foot, military truck or rail they were transported to allied safe zones and placed in Displaced Persons (i.e., refugee) camps based on ethnic group.
After the war, her family could sign up for emigration (awaiting a sponsor in the area of their choice). They were taken in by a Lutheran congregation in Baltic, South Dakota. One of the congregation families, the Endhals, became their adoptive sponsors along with the Thompsons, where Baiba’s father worked as a farmhand. When their transportation costs were repaid to the U.S. government, they were able to leave their sponsors. They relocated to a vibrant Latvian community in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Baiba was educated in the American public school system, beginning in a one-room schoolhouse in Baltic. After relocating, she eventually graduated from Grand Rapids Central High School, followed by Grand Rapids Junior College and Eastern Michigan University. During her early years she spent a half day a week attending Grand Rapids Latvian School, set up to help keep a Latvian ethnic identity.
Her formal education culminated in a Masters degree in language, following which she became a teacher. She spent several years teaching high school students in the public schools of Detroit, Ypsilanti, Monroe and Brighton, Michigan.
After marrying Robert Glassford (a High School math teacher), they relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan where Baiba had a daughter, Māra. Baiba then became a stay-at-home mom for several years. When Māra developed a talent for soccer, Baiba plunged in and eventually became a certified coach and official for high school and collegiate soccer matches.
After Māra grew into maturity, Baiba returned to teaching, first as an Adult Education teacher (mostly for English as a Second Language), then as an Alternative Educator (English, History, and one of the few Caucasian instructors for Black American History). She also served two years an NCAA Proposition 48 tutor for a local college.
Her husband Robert died after his retirement, following a heart attack at their home in Ann Arbor. Widowhood brought many changes to Baiba. Among them was liquidating the households of her in-laws and her mother after their deaths.
Another change, in 1999, brought Baiba to Hermosa Beach, CA, for a new life. Stephen Pater was a lifelong correspondent whom Baiba originally met on a blind date at Purdue University in 1961. After many years of separateness, Baiba was reconnecting with people and contacted Stephen in 1978 (through his Mother). Lots of letters ensued, and after she helped Stephen with his Dad, Stephen asked Baiba to join him in Hermosa Beach. Ever cautious, Baiba attempted a trial run, then came to stay on July 4, 1999.
After years of enjoyment and a wonderful shared life, Baiba has come to Caring House as her last home. We look forward to being a place of peace and comfort for her and her family.
Baiba died on September 9, 2016. Honor her. Remember her.