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Obit – Beth Williams Baxter

Beth Williams Baxter, most recently of South Carthage, Tennessee, peacefully and comfortably abandoned her mortal shell on March 2, 2023, in the company of family members. She was 95 years old.

She was born on Groundhog Day (Feb. 2), 1928 to the late Kent Bailey Williams and the late Margaret Johnson Williams in Oak Hill, West Virginia, and spent her early years in nearby Princeton, West Virginia. She moved with her family to Columbia, PA in the mid 1930s, where she graduated from high school and married the love of her life, the late James Baxter, a metallurgical engineer and foundryman, in 1950.

Beth and Jim wandered the eastern half of the US together for the next five decades, as the fortunes of the country’s iron industry declined, from Columbia to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Branford, CT; Jamestown, NY; Warwick, RI; Dickson, TN; Camden, TN; Fairfield, IA; back to Dickson, TN and ultimately back to Columbia, PA, where Mr. Baxter passed in 2001. Her nomadic ways continued to the present, back and forth between Columbia and Jackson, TN, to her ultimate home at the Pavilion assisted living home in South Carthage, TN.

Beth and her husband raised three sons, and she was a homemaker for most of her child rearing years. She opened a gift shop in Dickson in the early 1970s, and operated an interior decorating business there as well. She helped her brother manage his hotel/restaurant business, The Rising Sun, in Columbia, PA in the 1990s.

Her abiding passion was vocal music. Her gift was apparent from early childhood. She was born two months before Shirley Temple, and bore an uncanny resemblance to the child star. What’s more, Beth could sing so well that she was recognized for her gift all over Columbia well before she entered high school. By her 21st birthday, she was the featured vocalist for Ira Bowman’s 8-piece jazz band, the youngest member of the ensemble by at least 20 years. She was a mainstay soprano in church choirs for most of her life. She was also a leading lady in half a dozen musical theater productions in Connecticut, New York and Iowa, including South Pacific, Bus Stop and Guys and Dolls. To the last, as her memory faded, her mind still held the lyrics and melodies sung by Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, and she never stopped singing along with them.

In addition to her husband and her parents, Mrs. Baxter was preceded in death by her beloved sister Marnell (Robert “Beanie”) Lutz and brother Kent “Mike” Williams, all of Columbia, PA.

She is survived by three sons, James C. (Deb) Baxter, of Jackson, TN; Stephen A. (Joni Kurz) Baxter, of Luling, TX and Christopher H. (Connie) Baxter, of Carthage, TN; seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

The family requests that memorial gifts be directed toward the Building Fund of the Carthage United Methodist Church. The family is planning private memorial services for a yet-to-be determined date.


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