Ross Baker, 88, a lifetime resident of Peabody, Kan., died Jan. 28, 2014, at Newton Medical Center.
Born July 28, 1925, in Newton, he was the third son of Paul and Vivien Baker of Peabody. Ross was raised in Peabody and graduated from Peabody High School in 1943.
He attended the University of Kansas for one semester before he was drafted into the Army during World War II. He was stationed at Fort Walters, Texas, and then shipped to Great Britain in preparation for the allied invasion of Europe. He served as a combat infantryman in France, Belgium, and Germany and was a 19-year-old veteran of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.
After the war, Ross returned to KU and studied business administration. He joined Delta Tau Delta fraternity, a legacy he shared with his father and two sons, which he valued for his entire life.
Ross returned to Peabody and joined his father in the family’s Peabody Hardware and Lumber Company. He married Rosalee Baskins of Peabody on Oct. 14, 1951, at the Peabody United Methodist Church. They built a home in Peabody and later acquired the Prescott house on Sycamore Street, where they raised their three children and lived more than 30 years.
In 1964, Ross returned to KU to finish his degree in business administration. In the early 1970s, he and his father sold their hardware business. He then became the administrator of Peabody Memorial Nursing Home, where he looked after the care of many of Peabody’s elder citizens until his retirement in the early 1980s.
Ross was very active in the Peabody community throughout his life. He served as city councilman and was a volunteer firefighter. He was a member of Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce, the Peabody and Marion County Historical Societies, American Legion, and Golf Club.
He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church where he served on the church board and was a long time Sunday school teacher. His baritone voice was always a beautiful note in the church choir. He was later a member of the Methodist Church.
He was a gracious host and enjoyed playing bridge and social activities with his family and his many friends. He loved collecting antiques, was a creative gardener, an excellent amateur chef, and was an avid KU sports fan. He enjoyed watching sporting events of all kinds. His engaging sense of humor made him a good companion and fun to be with. He cared about everyone he met and treated everyone he knew like an old friend.
Ross was very close to his entire family. He had extraordinary knowledge of his family history and the history of Peabody. He shared this knowledge in a very personal way. He maintained close lifelong relationships with his Potter and Heath cousins. He loved and was proud of his family. Ross was truly a special gentleman and we have lost a treasured friend.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Rosalee; parents, Paul and Vivien Baker; sister, Carol Foote; and brothers, Heath, Hoyt and Paul Jr. He is survived by three children; sons, Steve Baker and wife, Karen, and Scott Baker and wife, Katherine, all of Houston; and daughter, Ann Robinson and husband, Scott, of Wichita.
He is also survived by seven grandchildren, Sarah Hebert and husband, Carl, of Wichita; Adam Robinson of Washington, D.C.; Katie Thurman and husband, Tyler, of Los Angeles; Hanna Baker of San Francisco; Erin McKay and husband, Nate, of San Antonio; Colin Baker of Austin, Texas, and Lindsey Baker, of Austin; and two great-grandchildren, Grace and Ethan Hebert of Wichita.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, at the Methodist Church in Peabody. Interment will take place at Prairie Lawn Cemetery in Peabody.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Peabody Historical Society, 1556 59th St., Peabody, KS 66866, and the Peabody Community Foundation, c/o Peabody State Bank, 210 N. Walnut, Peabody, KS 66866.