Bertha Lorraine Baker Thornton was born in Pensacola, Florida on February 21, 1946 and raised in the part of town known as the Tanyard. Bertha was the youngest of 13 children called "The Baker's Dozen of Pensacola". She met the Lord at a young age and along with her 12 other siblings was a faithful member of Friendship Primitive Baptist Church where they all sang in the choir. It was here that she developed a love for singing and performing. She along with childhood friends, Beverly Stallworth (Crosby) and Juanita Cole began performing in churches and talent shows all across the Gulf Coast, eventually progressing to singing in clubs. She was a member of The Progressive Women during the early '70's along with her dear friend/sister in Christ, Grace Berry Ross. She became the manager of the RAF&V Club (Retired Armed Forces & Veteran's Club). It was here that she eventually met the "love of her life". The singing group split up once marriages and children came into the picture.
Bertha was an alumni of Booker T. Washington Class of 1964. She later married a U.S. military man and soon left her beloved Pensacola to travel to many cities across the United States. Eventually settling in New Orleans, Louisiana, which became her second home.
While in New Orleans not being able to sing and the military life took a strain on the relationship with the "love of her life" and they soon split. Determined to survive, she took a job at Dos Gringos Mexican Restaurant and raised her 3 children on a waitress' salary.
In August of 2005, due to two acts of God, the death of the matriarch of the Baker Family (Gladys Louise) and Hurricane Katrina, she returned to Pensacola, Florida. And just as she'd done in New Orleans, shared a home with her sisters Catherine and Bette and three of them together were nicknamed by the family as The Golden Girls. This return home also brought her back to her love for singing and she enjoyed being a member of Mt. Canaan Missionary Baptist Church where she was part of the Mass Choir and Choir #2. She also took great pride in being on the Pastor's Aide Club.
In 2013 while undergoing a routine breast biopsy, she suffered a major stroke and massive heart attack and had to be revived on more than three occasions. The doctors had written her off and had the family gather as they were set to pull her off the ventilator. Yet God had another plan. Upon her miraculous release from Baptist Hospital, she retired in 2014 from Escambia County District Schools (Tate High School) and began her rehab to learn how to walk and talk once again.
Unfortunately in 2016 tragedy struck once again with the passing of her sister (and caregiver) Catherine only to be followed six days later by her other sister Bette.
Still more bad news, in October of 2017 she was diagnosed with an incurable form of lung cancer and was given three to six months to live. Ever the faithful servant of Our Lord, she never let that stop her. She continued to live and waited for the day that her granddaughter, Brianna Wilson, would give birth to her great grandson, E.J. Wilson arriving on August 28th, 2018.
Bertha took her last breath on September 19, 2018 at 11:47 am while at home in Pace, Florida surrounded by love.
Bertha is preceded in death by her father, Ralph Waldo Baker Sr; her mother, Gladys Louise (Williams) Baker; eight brothers Ralph Waldo, Jr., William, Sr., Kermit, Sr, Ronald, Sr., Donald, Roger, and Anthony; four sisters, Carrie Louise McCormick, Bette Baker Brady, Portia (Booker) Millender and Catherine Virginia Milton.
She is survived by her children, Tangranita Renee Manassa (David) of Cantonment, FL, Keith Andre' Thornton (Adriana) of New Orleans, LA, and Shanetta Maria Baker Thornton of Pace, FL; twelve grandchildren, Christina Porter (Peter) of Boston, MA, Brianna Wilson (Monte), Brandon Earl, Joshua Graves, De'Ana Dejoie, Mahlia West of Cantonment, FL, Chloe and Lillian Richardson of Pensacola, FL, Kristofer Jordan Baker Thornton of Pace, FL, Daniel Seymore Hall, Alexander Lorenzo Thornton and Arnold Onasis Thornton of New Orleans, LA; four great-grandsons: Anthony Porter of Boston, MA, Dailyn Anthony Hall of Texas City, TX, Jaylin Armed Thornton of New Orleans, LA and Enzo Jaimeson Corneil Wilson of Cantonment, FL; a host of nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, cousins and numerous friends.
Bertha Baker Thornton's Home Going Services will take place on Thursday, September 27th, 2018 at 11:00 am at Mt. Canaan Missionary Baptist Church at 500 East Moreno Street, Pensacola, Florida