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Marlee Baker Obituary


Memories & Candles

“Marlee was a true character and was sincerely one of a kind. But, she didn't know it. She was naturally glamorous and didn't accept the limitations...Read More »
1 of 5 | Posted by: Jeanette Kinard - Wimberley, TX

“Parker and Gabe: You probably do not remember me, but I met you both at some Baker reunions in Kemp, Texas, when we were all much younger. Your...Read More »
2 of 5 | Posted by: Betty Carol Baker - Reno, NV

“Parker and Gabe, My condolences to you and your family. Reading about your mother's long and interesting life and work makes me wish I had...Read More »
3 of 5 | Posted by: Polly McDonald - Austin, TX

“PARKER AND GABE,I WAS SO SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT YOR MOTHER.YOU HAD A GREAT MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER.OUR SYMPATHY.CHARLIE AND OLLENE PETTERSON ”
4 of 5 | Posted by: ollene petterson - highland haven, TX

“Parker and Gabe: I share your sadness at the loss of your mother. She was a remarkable person and a polymath who did so many things superbly ,...Read More »
5 of 5 | Posted by: David Guarino - Austin, TX


After a long and remarkable life, Marlee Baker passed away following a relatively brief illness on the morning of May 19, 2012, at the age of 80. She will be deeply missed.

Marlee was born on September 30, 1931, in Belton, Texas, to her father Paul Bruce Baker and mother Lillie Lee Isleib Baker. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in 1948 and received her Bachelors degree in Music Education from Southwestern University in 1951, after only three years, with a major in piano and a minor in organ.

In July 1951, she married Parker C. Folse, Jr., of Beaumont, and the couple later moved to Austin, where she spent the rest of her life and where both of Marlee's sons were born. Marlee and Parker were divorced in the spring of 1957.

Marlee worked virtually her entire adult life, establishing multiple careers over time. In roughly chronological order:

She was an elementary school teacher. She was a piano soloist for the Austin Symphony Orchestra during the tenure of music director and conductor Ezra Rachlin. She was a writer and columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, working under editor-in-chief Charlie Green. She was a travel agent. For many years she worked as a secretary and then office manager for numerous Texas state legislators, including a job as administrative assistant for Barbara Jordan when she began her political career as a first-term Texas State Senator in 1966 and a stint as executive assistant to then-Senator Charlie Wilson.

In January 1971, Marlee married Cater Joseph of Austin. After working to help support her children for almost 15 years, she stopped working following her marriage to Cater, but only briefly. She later obtained her real estate license, and eventually her broker's license when she established her own real estate business, selling commercial property, land, and residential real estate, for many years.

She had been interested in law school as a young woman, at a time when it was unrealistic for women in Texas to pursue a law degree. Her interest was rekindled when her son Parker attended law school at The University of Texas from 1977-1980. She applied to the same law school and was admitted, beginning her own career at UT Law School in 1980 at the age of 49.

Following her graduation from law school in 1983 and her divorce from Cater, she began her solo practice as a criminal defense attorney in Austin. She had an active practice for nine years before retiring in 1992 at age 60. Following her retirement, she remained actively interested and involved in the careers of her two sons, traveled occasionally, enjoyed music, read voraciously, and maintained contact with a few close friends.

These are the bare facts, but they barely begin to capture the richness of Marlee's life and her strength, intellect, wisdom, and vivaciousness. She was a beautiful woman throughout her life, and one of those rare people who had both the soul of an artist and an analytical mind. She was a gifted pianist, a skillful and eloquent writer, personally charming, sophisticated, opinionated, tough-minded, and funny. She had no tolerance for phoniness or hypocrisy in others, but she was a loyal and generous friend and she subjected herself to the same high standards of conduct that she applied to others. She was a realist and not easily impressed with people, but she was remarkably idealistic in many ways.

She was intellectually curious throughout her life, a reader of biographies and histories as well as thousands of mystery novels. She was a self-described political junkie, a student of movies and a broad spectrum of music, a fan of football (particularly the Longhorns) and baseball, and a life-long animal lover (serving at one point on the Board of the Austin Humane Society). Though only an intermittent church-goer, she was also a very spiritual person and a devout Christian, frequently asking in her later years, "where would we be without Christ?" She was as multi-faceted as a diamond and just as intriguing.

She faced many difficulties in her life, but never surrendered to them. And though she faced a lifetime of disappointments as well as achievements, she was most proud of her two sons, for whom she made constant sacrifices and whom she always pushed, supported, and loved with a burning intensity that never faded from their birth until the time of her own death.

She was preceded in death by her beloved parents, by her sister Jan Harris of El Paso, and by her first husband Parker C. Folse, Jr. She is survived by her former husband Cater Joseph, by her sons Paul Gabriel Folse of Austin and Parker C. Folse, III, of Bainbridge Island, Washington, and by her grandchildren Alexis Folse, 26, and Connor Folse, 22, both of Seattle, Washington.