The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

The Times 

Thomas C. Baker

April 17, 1930 - November 14, 2016


Times File Photo

Thomas C. Baker

April 17, 1930 - November 14, 2016

Thomas Carlton Baker, 86, of Waitsburg, died November 14, 2016, at Booker Rest Home in Dayton.

He was born April 17, 1930, in Fort Morgan, Colo., to Loyal C. and Amalia Greenwald Baker. He attended Baker Elementary School, accompanied to school by his faithful dog Tippy, who quietly curled up beneath his desk each day. (When Tom was promoted from sixth grade, the principal presented Tippy with a diploma.)

As a youngster, he was given piano lessons, and enjoyed playing all of his life. He was a Boy Scout and active in church, music and social events in Fort Morgan.

He graduated from Fort Morgan High School in 1948 where he was active in student government, editor of the student newspaper "The Megaphone," annual staff, drama and music.

He attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Penn. Terribly homesick during that school year, he returned to Colorado, attending the University of Colorado at Boulder for two years. There he met Mary Anita Bridwell, his future wife.

The couple was married December 23, 1951, in Denver. He then returned to Pittsburgh, to resume studies at Carnegie Tech while she finished the year at Boulder after which they reunited in Pittsburgh.

Baker graduated in 1953 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Printing Management. On the return journey to Colorado, he interviewed at several companies, eventually landing a job with Bradford-Robinson Printing Co. in Denver.

Son Charles was born in April, 1953, in Pittsburgh, daughter Margaret Jean was born in Denver in 1955, and son Loyal was born in 1958, in Denver.

In 1955, he pursued his dream of working in newspapers, accepting a job at the Grand Junction Sentinel. Although he enjoyed the position, the job didn't work out and Bradford-Robinson re-offered him a job, and he accepted.

Baker and a co-worker would talk about buying a country newspaper, visiting towns in eastern Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho. Eventually the friend withdrew from the "partnership," and a newspaper broker mentioned a Washington state paper with an expired listing. He flew to Washington, landing at Pendleton, Ore., during the Columbus Day Storm of 1962.

Waitsburg fit perfectly--Tom's and Anita's requirements of having a newspaper and a Presbyterian Church, and the family moved from Denver in June, 1963. He worked with The Times publisher Carl Dilts for one year before officially becoming editor and publisher.

Baker published The Times for the next 27 years, employing his dry wit and unique style while chronicling the life and times of the people of Waitsburg. In the mid-1980s, he dubbed his weekly editorial "TOMfoolery," which he wrote and continued writing after selling the business in 1991, continuing the weekly labor of love until 2009.

In addition to reporting on the community's activities and operating a thriving print shop, he was active in Waitsburg Commercial Club (president, 1965), Waitsburg Lions Club (president, 1972), Masonic Lodge No. 16, F.&A.M., the Order of Eastern Star No. 9, Waitsburg Historical Society, Waitsburg Presbyterian Church choir and Board of Elders, Moderator of Central Washington Presbytery, Walla Walla Community College Board of Trustees (1971-77), Walla Walla Community College Foundation board, Blue Mountain Community Foundation (board member and president), Inquiry Club, Health Foundation Board in Dayton, Walla Walla County Board of Equalization (2003-2015), Walla Walla Union-Bulletin/Seattle Times Community Advisory Board (1998-2003), Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (Board of Directors, Secretary, Treasurer, President 1985-86), Waitsburg Boy Scout Executive Board, Waitsburg City Council and mayor (1983-86, 1993-97) for many years, and others.

Honors received include Waitsburg FFA Honorary Chapter Farmer (1960s), Waitsburg Commercial Club Community Service Award 1976, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association President 1985-86, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association John L. Fournier Community Service Award 1987, Waitsburg High School Alumni Association Award of Merit 1992 and Honorary Member, Waitsburg Booster Club Booster of the Year 2005-06, Days of Real Sport Parade Marshal 2006, Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce Award of Merit 2007, Lions Club Melvin Jones Fellow 2012-13 and other honors.

Baker retired in 1991 after selling The Times, continuing with his public service and during that time, he and Anita enjoyed traveling and attending family activities. He made his Walk with Christ in 2007.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Anita, at home; son Charles (Patty) of Quilcene, Wash.; daughter Peggy (Randy) Mudd of Pasco; son Loyal (Charlotte) of Dayton; grandchildren Tom (Nikki) Baker of Moscow, Id., Dan Baker of Moscow, Id., Amalia "Molly" Bakerof Sequim, Wash., Emilie (Jake Scott) Bakerof Port Townsend, Wash., Anthony (Dannielle) Henry of Richland, Wash., Whitney Baker of Spokane, Wash., Matthew (Corinne) Baker of Loveland, Colo., Morgan Baker of Cheney, Wash.; great-grandchildren Everlee Baker, Keira Baker, Leia Baker Hendrickson, River Baker Hendrickson, Valerie Baker Scott, Carter Henry, Sophie Henry, and Drayson Baker.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Services will begin with Eastern Star and Masonic ritualistic ceremonies and inurnment at the Waitsburg City Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, November 23, 2016, followed by a Memorial Service at the Waitsburg Presbyterian Church at 11 a.m. A Memorial Reception Luncheon will follow at the Waitsburg Town Hall, 121 Main Street.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Baker/Mudd WWCC Nursing Scholarship through the Blue Mountain Community Foundation, 22 E. Poplar St., Walla Walla, WA 99362, or the Waitsburg Historical Society, P.O. Box 341, Waitsburg, WA 99361, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Arrangements are under the care of Hubbard-Rogg Funeral Home, 111 S. 2nd, Dayton, Wash.


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