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Margaret (Peg) Baker Britton (1928-2023)

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Margaret (Peg) Baker Britton, 94, happily surrendered her remaining energy to the great cosmic dance and stardust cycle of life on March 4, 2023, at Salina Presbyterian Manor, Salina, Kan.

She is survived by son Todd Tedlock Britton and wife Karen of Ellsworth; daughter Allyson (Ally) Britton of Ellsworth; granddaughter Mackenzie Britton and fiancé Jason Bright of Maryville, Ill.; grandson Drew Britton and wife Christy of Boulder, Colo.; grandson Tyler Britton of Cincinnati, Ohio; grandson Rodney Helus and wife Gennifer of Canton, Ga.; and great-granddaughters Emma Grace Helus, Elle Mia Helus and Rowan Lena Britton. Rowan will soon be a big sister to a sibling expected to arrive this spring. Peg is also survived by nephew Kurt Kippes; niece Ann Kippes; niece Kay Kippes Maier; sister-in-law Sybil Sonnier Baker; and niece Andrea Baker Davoll.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Roy Porter Britton, 1925-2008; son Dane Blackmour Britton, 1952-2008; sister Barbara Baker Kippes, 1932-1997; brother Bruce Hudson Baker Jr., 1936-1993; and daughter-in-law Linda Yarbrough Britton, 1953-1979.

Peg was born June 23, 1928, in Salina, Kan., to Margaret Louella Tedlock and Bruce Hudson Baker Sr. Peg graduated from Salina High School in 1946 and was elected Representative Girl. She graduated from the University of Kansas in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science in architecture, winning the coveted Lawrence Schmidt senior architectural design award for excellence. She was a member of Mortar Board, Pi Beta Phi sorority and served as president of the KU Women’s Athletic Association. Margaret Jean Baker and Roy Porter Britton were married in Salina on March 17, 1951.

After graduation, she was employed by Edward Tanner and Associates, Architects in Kansas City, Mo. Shortly after the birth of Dane in 1952, the family relocated to Ellsworth, Kan., so that Roy could join the family banking business. Ellsworth County was the birthplace of her father and the home of her paternal grandparents and great-grandparents.

While raising three children, Peg taught all eight grades at Oak Creek rural school, was a Cub Scout leader and served on the board of Central Kansas Area Girl Scouts. She was on the board of directors of Citizens State Bank and Trust, Ellsworth, and the board of directors of The Topeka Club. She served as Ellsworth Municipal Court judge, state president of the Kansas Association of School Boards and board of education member of USD 327 for 20 years. She was the first woman elected to the executive committee and board of directors of the Kansas State High School Activities Association. She was the first school board member named to the Kansas State Board for Teacher Professional Practices and the Kansas State Board for Teacher Accreditation. She also served on the Prairie Enterprise Project Community Economic Development board. Using her architecture degree, Peg designed their home in Ellsworth, a 4,256-square-foot retreat complete with a tower and bridge.  

In her later years, Peg devoted enormous amounts of time to her children, grandchildren and friends. She spent her energy doing what she loved, working to make her corner of the world a better place to live. Her great delights were being with family, traveling the world, cooking and eating delicious food (with lots of garlic and onions), enforcing proper grammar and exploring the backroads of Kansas. She spent one day submerged in the Pacific Ocean in the USS Topeka Los Angeles class nuclear submarine, where she raised the periscope, experienced angles and dangles, ate with the crew and climbed the 50-foot sail. Another major highlight was piloting the Goodyear Blimp one afternoon over Houston with a friend and one crew member. She and her husband loved to travel to out-of-the-way places. They were in Panama in 1999 when the oversight of the famous Panama Canal was transferred from the U.S. to Panama and they were in Hong Kong in 1997 when the crown colony officially reverted to Chinese sovereignty ending 156 years of British rule. She may have been the only person in Kansas who watched (on her computer) the entirety of the failed Turkish military coup attempt against its country to take control as it transpired on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul.

Before most people even knew what a blog was, Peg was nationally recognized as the first female community daily blogger by the Wall Street Journal. She continued her daily blogging about Kansas events for 10 years. She was the second person, following only the city administrator, in the Ellsworth area to get connected to the internet. Many family conversations subsequently were prefaced with, “Don’t blog this, but…” or else it was eligible for publishing. Peg’s computer was her lifeline to the outside world. She made lifelong worldwide friends in mIRC chat rooms.  

Peg chose to relocate to Presbyterian Manor on Nov. 28, 2012, to receive all the health care she might need, get out from underneath her kids’ feet and never have to relocate again while continuing to live independently with a modicum of help. Her door was always open; she shared countless bottles of wine with good company. Anytime KU played basketball, she rounded up her fellow “2nd-floor cheerleaders” to cheer them on. She managed beautifully to live a completely independent life surrounded by friends at the “Palace,” as she called it.

As a lifelong secular humanist and Democrat, she immersed herself in efforts to preserve the separation of church and state and raise awareness of feminist and equality issues. She was a lifelong proponent of public education, environmental awareness and a woman’s right to choose.

Her body was cremated at the deceased’s request, and there will be no service. Also, there will be no “celebration of life” as she said she wouldn’t be here to enjoy it and she’d already had many such celebrations over the years, to which all of you had been invited at least once, and probably many more times. The family doesn’t dare deviate from her wishes (She was in charge!) but encourages you to share a final toast in her honor. We recommend choosing an Ennio Morricone (Italian composer) score as your background ambiance. She listened to him daily on YouTube in her final months.  

The family suggests memorial donations to any organization of your choice that enables Peg’s activism and impact on the world to continue. Her family thanks you for your lifetime of friendship, which she treasured.