Obituary for Richard Baker – (1934-2021) – Tucson, AZ

BAKER, Richard W. “Dick”

The 87-year-old passed away peacefully in the early hours of the morning on Monday, February 15, 2021 at Peppi’s House – TMC Hospice.

Dick was born in Buffalo, NY, on February 12, 1934, to Edward W. and Marion Francis Baker. The family moved to Tucson, Arizona during Dick’s high school years. He graduated from Tucson Senior High School in 1951 and attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he was a member of the Delta Sigma Phi Brotherhood and where he met his lifelong best friend, Bob Spackeen. After college, he moved to California where he began his long career in retail at the Bullock Department Store in Los Angeles. It was in the famous flagship Bullock’s Wilshire that he met a UCLA student – soon to be his bride – named Lillian Palmer, who was working in the store over the Christmas break. Soon after their meeting, Dick was drafted into the US Army and joined the 5th Infantry of Company “K” in Fort Ord, California. After basic training, Dick was deployed in an installation of the US Army in Nuremberg, where Dick became a proud member of the 85th Infantry of Company “F”. The young couple decided to get married before Dick left for Germany, and shortly after arriving in Nuremberg, Lillian joined him after a harrowing trip across the Atlantic in the United States. During her lengthy time in Germany, Lillian found that she was expecting something and gave birth to her eldest son, Jeff, at the base hospital.

After his ministry finished, Dick and Lillian returned to California and settled in Pasadena, CA, where he and Lillian had two other children, Jon and Eric. Dick continued his career at Bullock and earned the coveted ten year old pin for his service. In 1967 the family moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, where Dick began a long career with the Babbitt Brothers Trading Company. It was during these years that Dick and Lillian raised their three cubs surrounded by the beauty of the pine forests of the San Francisco Peaks and Ponderosa. The whole family were avid skiers, and the three boys all achieved the rank of Eagle Scout – the highest achievement that could be achieved in the Boy Scouts of American program. After many years at Babbitt, Dick opened his own business in downtown Flagstaff, Baker’s Books and Gifts, which supported the family for over a decade. Dick retired as Vice President Retailing for the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel. Dick was particularly proud of helping rebuild the Heritage Railroad, which carries passengers between Williams, Arizona and the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park after many years of inactivity.

Dick died of his wife, Lillian, a longtime educator at Flagstaff Unified School District, and grandson Jordan Daniel Baker. He is survived by his sons Jeff (Betsy), Jon (Lisa) and Eric (Bill) and grandchildren Eric (Kayla), Ethan (Annie) and Katelyn (Cassidy). In lieu of flowers, a donation in support of the Lillian Jane Baker Teacher Education Scholarship at Northern Arizona University might be considered. A safe online gift can be sent to: (this link will take you directly to the Lillian Jane Baker Scholarship). Or a check can be mailed direct to the NAU Foundation at Box 4094, NAU, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011-4094. Note Fund No. 1463 Lillian Jane Baker in the note line. Arrangements by ADAIR FUNERAL HOME, Dodge Chapel.

Published by Arizona Daily Star on February 24, 2021.

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