Patience Spiers 1928 - 2020 “We went to Buckingham Palace the night before Thanksgiving and it was really a fairy tale evening. Saw H.M. the Queen, Prince Philip, Lord Snowden and Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Princess Alice and half a dozen others. Fabulous clothes, fabulous jewels, fabulous paintings, champagne, and dancing in the throne room. I had to remind myself that I am really me, Patience Baker of South Londonderry, Vermont.” -Letter to her mother, Dec. 4, 1966- SOUTH LONDONDERRY — Patience Baker Spiers was born on Aug. 17, 1928, in Warren, Rhode Island, at her grandmother’s summer cottage on Narragansett Bay. Her parents were Lucy McRae Baker and Harold Dean Baker II, who owned a precious metal refinery in Attleboro, Massachusetts, supplying materials to the city’s jewelry industry. In 1942, while her father was serving in the U.S. Navy, her mother, she and her older sister, Penelope, moved to the safety of the country to a hundred-year-old house in South Londonderry, Vermont. There, Patience enrolled as a freshman at Chester High School, before transferring her sophomore year to Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester, Vermont, as a boarding student. In later years she recalled, during World War II, coasting in the car down Bromley Mountain to save rationed gasoline. In high school, she was active and athletic, serving as an associate editor of the yearbook, an officer in the outing club, a cheerleader, and a member of the ski patrol at Bromley Mountain, where she and the other patrol members “keep the slopes clear and safe at all times and give aid to injured skiers.” She graduated from high school in 1946 and matriculated that fall at Wellesley College. In the summer of 1948, her neighbor and friend, Ted Nickerson, a student at Dartmouth, brought his roommate home for a weekend visit. That U.S. Navy veteran and student of international relations, Ronald Spiers, fell in love with the Vermont girl and they were married the next year, on June 18, 1949. Forsaking her studies at Wellesley, Patience moved with Ron to Princeton, New Jersey, where he was completing his graduate studies. She took a job at Princeton’s Firestone Library, earning $100 each month. In 1950, they moved to the Washington, D.C., area where Ron began his government career and Patience, like many women of her generation, focused on creating a home in their small apartment in northern Virginia. Children—Debbie, Peter, Martha, and Sally—soon followed. Ron, who had worked on disarmament issues in the State Department, joined the U.S. Foreign Service in the early-1960s and, in 1966, the family’s nearly 25-year international adventure started, beginning with three years in London. Stints in Nassau, Bahamas, a second tour in London, Ankara, Turkey, and Islamabad, Pakistan, followed. Between international assignments, the family returned to live in Virginia; during one such period, Patience enrolled at George Washington University, picking up where she left off after three years at Wellesley and earning a B.A. in General Studies in 1981. Patience also became an advocate for change within the Foreign Service, helping to eliminate the expectation that Foreign Service wives owe free labor to U.S. Embassies around the world; at the same time, she was an ambassador’s wife of consummate skill, supporting and boosting Ron’s career. After living in New York City for several years while Ron served as Undersecretary General of the United Nations for General Assembly Affairs, they retired in 1992 to the Vermont home where Patience had spent her teen years. Patience thrived in this environment, supervising the construction of a major home renovation, cultivating flowers and vegetables, serving on the board of the South Londonderry Free Library, and taking courses at the Green Mountain Academy. She grew even closer in these years to her widowed sister, Penny, who built a house next door to Ron and Patience. She and Penny co-founded the West River Farmers Market in Londonderry, Vermont, a popular market where local farmers, artisans and craftspeople sell their products. The West River Farmers Market this year celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Maintaining a big house in a remote area is physically challenging, and in 2010, Patience and Ron moved to the RiverWoods Retirement Community in Exeter, New Hampshire. At RiverWoods, Patience had many friends who remember her frequently caustic wit, her interest in literature, and her passionate political beliefs. She died on Jan. 4, 2020, and is survived by her husband of 70 years, her four children and their spouses, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Patience Spiers, who dined and danced with queens, presidents and prime ministers, was most at home and happiest on a summer day working in her Vermont garden, followed by a dinner of hot dogs and baked beans on the terrace, washed down by a gin and tonic or a glass of wine. Her ashes will be buried in the Middletown Cemetery in South Londonderry, alongside her mother and her sister, and across the street from the Vermont home she so loved. A celebration of her life will be held in Boulders Hall at RiverWoods Exeter on Feb. 8 from 2 to 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that tax-deductible donations be made to Clackamas Volunteers in Medicine, an organization that provides free health care to low-income and uninsured people in Oregon City, Oregon. (Clackamas Volunteers in Medicine, P.O. Box 2592, Oregon City, OR 97045, https://clackamasvim.org.)

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