BOSTON (AP) – Marja Bakker, an organizer of the Boston Marathon and the only female president of the Boston Athletic Association Running Club, has died. She was 59.

Bakker died of cancer Saturday at her home in Medford, said Jack Fleming, a spokesman for the BAA.

She joined the Boston Athletic Association Running Club in 1978 and became its president in 1982. She was the first and only female president of the running club in the organization’s 119-year history, Fleming said.

In 1984, she was elected to the BAA Board of Governors, the first female to serve. In 1987, she became staff administrator of the Boston Marathon, a position she held until recently.

“Marja Bakker always gave the gift of making everything and everyone around her a little better than they thought they could be,” BAA president Thomas Grilk said.

Bakker also served on the board of governors for USA Track & Field-New England, the regional governing body for the sport of road running and track and field.

She was named a member of the executive committee of women’s long distance running of USA Track & Field, the national organization, and she was part of the national organization’s championship site selection subcommittee.

Bakker was born in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands, on April 20, 1947, and was a Dutch citizen. The Boston Marathon has been held on the same day as her birthday 16 times, according to the BAA. She was born the day after the 1947 Boston Marathon, a race marked by the Boston Marathon’s first world record.

Earlier this year, the BAA made a successful bid, largely facilitated by Bakker, to host the women’s marathon U.S. Olympic team trials on April 20, 2008 – again Bakker’s birthday, and one day before that year’s Boston Marathon.

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