Betty Baker was born in Culpepper, Virginia, where her father was a small manufacturer and her mother a school teacher. She was raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Dickson, Tennessee, where she graduated from high school. Baker attended the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) from 1939 to 1944 and majored in English. During that time she also worked for one year at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Factory in Baltimore, Maryland.
Baker enlisted in the WAC in the spring of 1944. She completed basic training at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia and then became the base historian at the Miami Army Air Field in Florida. In early 1945 Baker was sent to Karachi, India (now Pakistan), where she served as a troop information and education specialist. She remained in Karachi until early 1946 and was discharged from Love Field in Dallas, Texas, on 16 January 1946.
Baker held various positions after leaving the service, including literary agent assistant; sport camp assistant manager; radio news director; and newspaper editor and owner. She then spent twenty-eight years as director of the Community Action Agency for Wilkes, Ashe, and Allegheny counties in North Carolina. She also volunteered at the Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.