June 17, 1930 - November 11, 2020

 

 

Services are pending for Robert "Bob" C. Baker, age 90 of St. Cloud who died November 11, 2020.

Robert “Bob” C. Baker is remembered as an educator and dedicated faculty member at Bemidji State University, where he spent two-thirds of his adult life. He also was a community leader, the force behind Baker’s Bandstand jazz radio program and top- licensed ham radio operator who found friends worldwide via the airwaves. He was known for his story, storytelling, sense of humor and penchant for lifelong learning.

Bob was born on June 17, 1930, to Ernest and Victoria Baker, in Blackduck, Minnesota. He was raised there, graduating in 1948 with letters in drama, journalism, band, choir, basketball, football and declamation. He brought his trumpet to the first summer band camp held at what then was Bemidji State Teachers College.

After Bob spent four years as a student at Bemidji State, his Navy unit was activated and he became a hospital man at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, VA, working in orthopedics and the operating room from 1951 to September 1953. There he met Navy nurse Ruth M. Wiles, whom he married in the fall of 1954.

Bob graduated from Bemidji State in spring 1954 with a major in chemistry and minors in biology and education. In 1955, he earned his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Dakota. Later, he received advanced training at the University of Iowa and Oregon State University under National Science Foundation grants and received a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Biology.

After teaching science and math for one year in Thief River Falls, Bob was recruited to the Bemidji State Junior High Lab School, where he was science and math supervisor and acting principal. He continued working at Bemidji State in its teacher prep program and as founding director of the Cooperative Continuing faculty in the biology department from 1969 to 1991 and retired as Professor Emeritus of Biology.

Bob was known for his commitment to Bemidji State, joining other long-time employees in efforts to make it a success. He spent 10 years on the Bemidji State faculty senate and Interfaculty Organization Board of Directors, as well as the association’s Meet and Confer Team. He was president of the Bemidji State Alumni Association.

Bob was a BSU hockey announcer and director of the regional science fair. He chaired advisory groups for KAWE and KBSB, the Bemidji State radio station that for 20 years aired his Baker’s Bandstand Jazz Program and 13 years on MN Public Radio.

Bob was the first chairman of the Beltrami County Planning Commission and the first chairman of the county’s Outdoor Recreation Resources Commission. He was the first chairman of the Regional Environmental Education Council, a role that brought recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency. He served on several statewide panels dealing with development and environmental education and was president of Bemidji State Park Long Range Planning Committee.

Bob was vice chairman of the Bemidji Planning Commission, a member of the city’s waterfront development committee, a member of two public schools’ committees, and president and four-year board member of the Bemidji chamber of Commerce. He served in a number of other civic and community leadership roles. Bob was an elder in the Presbyterian Church and chaired the organ restoration committee at First Presbyterian Church in St. Cloud, where he also served as liturgist and workshop committee member.

Bob and Ruth moved to St. Cloud in 1992, and he launched his ham radio hobby at about that time. He earned the Amateur Extra Ham Radio license and was selected for the A-1 Operator Club. In their retirement years, Bob and Ruth spent winters in Mesa, Arizona.

Survivors include his children, Therese (Michael) Allen of Portland, ME, John of Champlain, Kathleen (Pat) Devine of Waconia, Elizabeth (Laura Johnson) Baker of Brooklyn Park, Susan (William) Hurlbut of Tallahassee, FL, and Linda Baker of Eagan; grandchildren, Samatha Allen, Rachel Allen, Dan (Jess) Devine, Natalie Devine, Dominic (Gloria) Devine, and Victoria Hurlbut; greatgrandchildren, Zoe Allen, Macalester Devine, Leeland Devine, Nicky Devine, Orion Devine and Nathan Devine.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Ruth in 2014; son, Thomas W. Baker and parents.