Obituary: Elaine Baugus

Longtime APU employee, loving mother, grandmother, woman of faith

Elaine Charlotte Gardner Baugus died peacefully in hospice care on February 23 with family by her side. She was 91.

Born on May 1, 1928 in Pasadena, Elaine was the firstborn of a Nazarene minister, Dr. J. Russell Gardner, and his wife Marion. In her formative years, she moved between California, Idaho and Illinois, as her father answered calls to pastor churches and teach at Christian colleges. 

She graduated from Pasadena Academy in 1944 and moved on to Pasadena College and then Olivet Nazarene College in Bourbonnais, Illinois, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1948. 

While there, she met a handsome, athletic Ohioan, Leo Baugus, who had enrolled at Olivet after returning from serving in Europe in World War II. The two courted and then married on July 23, 1948.

They happily welcomed a son, Jim, in 1953, while they lived in Illinois. They moved to Santa Maria, California, shortly thereafter as Mr. Baugus took a teaching position, and they moved south from there to Claremont in 1956, where they would settle and raise a family. 

Judi was born in 1958, followed by John in 1962, and finally Janis in 1969. The family were active members at Covenant United Methodist Church in Pomona.

Mr. Baugus died tragically in a car accident in 1976, leaving Ms. Baugus to finish raising their four children on her own. She never remarried.

She worked part time for the Pomona Public Library for several years in the early 1970s, staffing their roving bookmobile. In 1975 she took a full time position at what was then known as Azusa Pacific College, where she would retire after serving 30 years, most of them handling eligibility and other administrative responsibilities in athletics. She also mentored many female undergraduate students at Azusa Pacific. 

After all her children had finished at Claremont High School, she moved to Pasadena, where she lived for nearly two decades before moving to Azusa, where she lived until returning to Claremont to be part of the Claremont Place community in 2019.

She enjoyed music and was a gifted musician. She loved attending Bible studies and serving in the church, whether singing in the choir, accompanying on piano, greeting, serving on committees, or teaching Sunday school. She did so in Pomona and later for many years at Pasadena First Nazarene. 

“Elaine was known for her love for her family, and spending time with them was always a priority,” her family shared. “She also loved to go on outings with her many friends.”

She was preceded in death by her husband, Leo, in 1976; her son, Jim, in 1989; her daughter, Judi, in 2009; and her brother, James Gardner, in 2002.

She is survived by her sister, Sharon (Keith) Sims of Laguna Niguel; son, John (Kristi) of Glendora; daughter, Janis (Tracy) Bates of Fort Collins, Colorado; grandchildren, Jeremy Baugus, Julie (Dave) Bocock, Chris (McKenna) and Kevin Roberts, Makenna, Amberlee and Karina Baugus, James, Sarah and Emily Bates; great-grandchildren Hudson and Elias Bocock, and Adilynn and Emmitt Roberts; and her longtime special friend, John Sambrone, with whom she enjoyed church outings, concerts, walks, Disneyland dates, and many milkshakes. 

“Elaine lived a life of faith, love, joy, and influence in her nearly 92 years,” her family shared. “The family thanks the fine staff at Claremont Place and VNA Hospice for their care and assistance in recent months.”

A memorial service and luncheon reception immediately following will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 14 at Glendora Community Church, 645 N. Grand Ave., Glendora.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Azusa Pacific University in her memory at


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