Ft. Lauderdale, FL – February 22, 2024 – Mrs. Marcia Elaine ‘Mer’ Rigg-Baker, former co-founder and principal of ABI Startime and the Miss Jamaica Florida Pageant, peacefully passed on Monday, January 15, 2024, after a period of ill health.   A native of Jamaica, Mrs. Rigg-Baker was born in Green Island, Hanover, on September 5, 1950.

A graduate of Rusea’s High School, in Hanover, she was employed by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and then at Barclays Bank, (Hanover and Kingston) before migrating to the United States in July 1980.

Marcia Rigg Baker

Her contributions to the South Florida Caribbean community, and Jamaica are immeasurable. Ms. Baker leaves behind a lasting legacy as founder of the Miss Jamaica Florida Pageant and the Partners for Youth Foundation (PFY) with her late husband, Anthony Baker.  They founded the ABI Startime, giving rise to the Miss Jamaica Florida Pageant, and later on, the non-profit charitable organization, Partners for Youth Foundation.

Their mission empowered young women, providing a space for creativity, building self-confidence, and nurturing business acumen. After Tony’s passing, Marcia, supported by a circle of dedicated friends and past pageant ambassadors, committed to continuing this mission, today celebrating nearly 40 years in South Florida.  The Bakers were among the Vanguards honored by the Jamaican Consulate General in Miami, during the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence in the Southern USA. These honorees were acknowledged for their pioneering initiatives at the forefront of several aspects of the rich Jamaican cultural heritage and ‘Brand Jamaica’ being highlighted today in various communities.

Affectionately known as Ms. Marcia, her profound commitment transformed young girls, especially first and second-generation Jamaican-Americans, into empowered women of tomorrow. She created a sanctuary where the importance of cultural origins was acknowledged and celebrated, proudly embracing her identity as a Jamaican. Her legacy is unshakable, as described by the many who worked with her on the pageant committees year after year.  She shared equally the unbreakable bonds she fostered among that influential group of women, most of whom supported her throughout years of guidance to countless young women imparting to them the importance of grace and cultural aptitude. She mentored hundreds of pageant entrants, leaving an enduring impact on their lives.  Today, many are successful entrepreneurs, professionals, as well as leaders in academia and corporate positions.

She was also co-founder of the South Florida chapter of the Rusea’s Old Student’s Association (ROSA)  Florida chapter, a non-profit 501(c)(3) association, dedicated to advancing the educational objectives of their alma mater.   Founded in 1777, Rusea’s High has produced many of Jamaica’s top leaders in numerous walks of life and disciplines in its 240 years existence.

She is predeceased by her husband, Anthony Baker; and her parents, Eric George and Myrtle Spence Rigg; her sister, Ouida (Wendy); and her brother, Edmund (Billy).   She is survived by her daughters, Andrean and Racquel (Dian), granddaughters Chelsea and Taylor, sisters Joan Tavares, Gean Atherton, Colleen Dacosta, Sharon Vickers, brothers Dennis, Trevor, Carl, Michael, Collin, and other relatives and friends.

The funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, January 27, 2024, at Genesis Christian Church, 1490 Banks Road, Margate, Florida. Pastor Dr. Owen Facey will officiate. The family will receive friends on Friday, January 26, 2024, at 4961 NW 18th Street, Lauderhill, FL. The family also expresses gratitude for the excellent care provided by Vitas Hospice. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to the Partners for Youth Foundation, Florida, will be gratefully received at www.partnersforyouthfoundation.org.