ASTORIA - Former Ocean Park resident Kenneth W. Baker, age 92, died Dec. 9, 2003, in Astoria. He was born in Winfield, Kan., on Feb. 13, 1911, the son of George and Grace (Grove) Baker.
The family moved from Kansas to Yakima when he was 8 or 10 years old and soon after settled in Tacoma, where his father was employed as a house painter. Mr. Baker attended the local schools in Tacoma and graduated from high school.
After high school he began working for Federal Bakery of Tacoma. He enjoyed learning this trade and mastered the tricks of handling dough to become an excellent baker, an accomplishment he was very proud of. For many years he continued to make all the rolls, pies and other baked goods for his family's holiday dinners. During his years at the bakery, Mr. Baker also began his career in music. He began by playing banjo and guitar, later he also played drums. For many years he had his own dance band in Tacoma and was a life member of the Musicians Union.
He met musician Elsa Reitz when both were playing in a dance band. The couple married Feb. 16, 1935, in Tacoma and made their home in Puyallup. They raised their children and made music a part of all of their lives. A very out-going couple they acquired an extended family. Sunday dinners at their home were always well attended and they never knew who or how many to expect.
Mr. Baker retired as a shop keeper for Northern Pacific Railroad and in 1976 the couple moved to the beach where they made Ocean Park their retirement home. They were active members of Ocean Park Methodist Church, where he was as a bell ringer and usher and Mrs. Baker played the piano and organ. The couple also volunteered their time and musical talent at local nursing homes playing music for the residents. Mrs. Baker preceded her husband in death in 1995.
In addition to music and baking, his interests extended to gardening, hunting and fishing. He was an avid sports fisherman and had fished every river and lake he ever heard of in the Northwest. Many of these fishing trips became family outings which his children enjoyed. He possessed a great sense of humor and will be remembered by his family and friends as someone who celebrated life everyday.
The last member of his original family, Mr. Baker is survived by his daughter Arlene Mackey of Astoria; sons Bruce Baker of Corte Madera, Calif., and Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., of New York City, N.Y.; two grandchildren; two great grandchildren; several nieces and nephews and an extended family in the Northwest.
A memorial service was held on Dec. 15, at Ocean Park Methodist Church, with Pastor Samantha Weir officiating. Private cremation has been held. The family suggests that those wishing to make memorial donations submit them to Research for Parkinson's Disease, c/o Penttila's Chapel by The Sea, PO Box 417, Long Beach, WA 98631.