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Malissa Davies Baum
July 17, 1923 ~ February 1, 2024 (age 100) 100 Years Old
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Malissa Baum was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, on July 17, 1923. She was number 9 of 10 children born to Alphonso and Allie Davies. She attended Largo High School, graduating in 1940 at 16 years old, where she was the editor of the school paper, short stop on the softball team and ran track. Upon graduating she attended Spartanburg College in Spartanburg South Carolina. She returned home and began working for Western Union in Pinellas County where she met a tall handsome marine, Ralph Baum, who was stationed with the Marine amphibious unit in Dunedin. Their common interests and faith brought them together and they were married in just six weeks. Ralph’s unit was sent to Saipan, where he was wounded and completed his service, allowing them to settle in central Florida. Malissa continued her college education at the University of Florida, graduating with honors in 1952. She was a huge sports fan, but her Florida Gators were always her favorite and she loved watching them and keeping track of their records to the end of her life.
Malissa began teaching in Pinellas County Schools and the family eventually moved to Tarpon Springs in 1955. Malissa taught at Ozona Elementary School. (One year she had 43 students in her first-grade class.) In 1983 she began teaching at Tarpon Springs Elementary School and served as a Curriculum Specialist. When those jobs were eliminated, she happily went back full time to the classroom. She taught for 32 years before she retired in 1985. She was beloved by her students and many of them stayed in contact with her.
Malissa had a strong Christian faith and was a member of Tarpon Springs First United Methodist Church for 69 years. Through the years she sang in the choir, was worship chairman, a member of the Women’s Club, chairman of education and served on various committees. By far her favorite volunteer position of over 50 years of service was teaching Sunday school and serving as youth counselor.
She was inducted as a member of Alpha Delta Kappa teaching sorority in 1951. She is known as a Diamond Sister, the highest member designation and will be honored at their state convention this year for her 73 years of service and membership. Always loving to teach, at 76 years young she decided to start a free after school tutoring program to help children in third grade pass the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test). She was able to fund the materials needed through a grant from the Alpha Delta Kappa sorority. Retired teachers and volunteers stepped up to make the program a success. Their work allowed many children to be promoted to the next grade level in school.
Malissa loved to travel and went on many cruises, trips abroad, and several mission trips. She loved to play games like scrabble, dominoes, hearts, and bridge. Bridge being her favorite, she played bridge with a group of ladies until she was 94 years old. She loved to read, complete crossword puzzles and sudoku. She loved to have fun and even at 100 years she contended that “Life is Short”.
Malissa has 4 children, Beverly Baum Butler, George Baum, Melissa Baum Richeson and Martha Baum Giancola, 12 grandchildren, and 25 great grandchildren. Including spouses there are 57 in her legacy. She had a strong loving relationship with them ALL. She has now joined her husband, Ralph, of 53 years and many friends and family members who preceded her, to her eternal home with her Lord Jesus.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00, on Saturday, February 10th, at the First United Methodist Church, 501 East Tarpon Avenue, Tarpon Springs. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity or organization.