Register-Guard publisher and philanthropist Ted Baker dies at 97
Edwin “Ted” Baker – World War II veteran, philanthropist, publisher of The Register-Guard and son of the newspaper’s founder – died Friday morning at the age of 97.
He was one of many members of the Baker family who long played a leadership role with The Register-Guard, founded in 1930 after his father, Alton Baker Sr., bought and merged the existing newspapers of Eugene. He was managing director of The Register-Guard between 1961 and 1982, then editor of the newspaper between 1982 and 1987.
Baker served as chairman of the board of Guard Publishing Co., the former parent organization of The Register-Guard, after his stint as editor of the newspaper.
He served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, where he was wounded in a Japanese attack for which he was later awarded the Purple Heart. He returned to Eugene in the fall of 1944.
“The biggest key to understanding him is his experience of war,” said his daughter, Bridget Baker Kincaid. “He was wounded, near death and behind enemy lines for three days. He vowed to God that if God took him out, he would dedicate his life to serving and caring for others. me, that’s what he does. “
Ted Baker was a prolific fundraiser for institutions such as United Way, the Eugene Public Library, the University of Oregon, and the Hult Center for the Performing Arts.
“At Centraide, he led all kinds of fundraising campaigns to make our community a much better and stronger community, and he did so with grace, with humility, and was always there with a quick smile and an attitude. Support. He would never give up, ”said Gerry Gaydos, a longtime friend and fundraising partner. “People knew if Ted was on a project he would be successful. He wouldn’t let anyone down, and he never did.”
The Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce in 1982 named Baker Eugene First Citizen, a designation awarded by the chamber each year to individuals who have made “outstanding contributions to the community through business and community service.”
Baker was born on December 20, 1923 in Cleveland for Alton and Mildred Baker. He had four siblings: Alton F. “Bunky” Baker Jr. (who was editor of The Register-Guard from 1961 to 1982), Louise Baker Little, Dr Herbert Baker and Richard A. Baker.
Ted Baker was an Eagle Scout and remained involved with the Boy Scouts throughout his life. Baker received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, given to Eagle Scouts who have distinguished themselves in their fields and communities 25 years after achieving this rank.
Ted Baker’s first wife, Patricia Baker, died of cancer in 1983. Marie Baker, his second wife and another partner in his local philanthropic endeavors, died at the age of 93 in May.
“They were just tireless,” said Jan Aho, who became executive director of the Pearl Buck Center while the Bakers ran a fundraising campaign for the nonprofit. “When Marie had her stroke, I went to the hospital and visited them. What struck me was the team they were making. He was such a caring, kind and generous husband. Married.”
Ted and Patricia Baker had three children together: Bridget, Amanda and Jonathan. Marie Baker’s children became her stepchildren when they got married.
His last surviving brother, the now retired Dr Herbert Baker, was at Ted Baker’s bedside before his death.
“He had a great life. He went through hell in the war, but he got away with it,” said Herbert Baker. “He was a true leader in this community, and I’m sure he will be sorely missed.”
Ted Baker, in 1943, was a 20-year-old University of Oregon student when he enrolled in the US Army Enlisted Reserve Corps, the precursor to the US Army Reserves. He was entrenched for three days on Bougainville Island in the South Pacific in March 1944 before the Japanese attacked. Three soldiers by his side died in the ensuing combat.
“So now these three guys are dead. And they squirted gasoline in it, then threw a scorching grenade. But I wasn’t going to stand there and burn to death,” Ted Baker told The Register. . -Keep in 2017 on his role in the battle. “I had multiple burns, second and third degree burns, but I was outside (the canoe). While I was there, a Japanese (soldier) started to approach, and I think he pointed his gun at me and I think he shot, but he missed. He didn’t hit me. And then someone shot him.
Baker was injured and alone for three days before other Americans rescued him. He would spend months in several hospitals before finally returning to Eugene.
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Baker would receive the Bronze Star for his service in this battle.
“He was a war hero,” said his nephew, Mark Baker, the former Register-Guard reporter who helped put together the veterans’ stories in 2017. “I always found him to be a one. amazing person, knowing he had been through this and had nightmares for years, and he not only did something with his life, but became a leader of the newspaper. “
Ted Baker’s oath of service as a result of his war experience lasted a lifetime, and his willingness to volunteer his time and energy was not limited to official fundraising efforts.
“He cared so much for the people around him, both in the newspaper and in the community and certainly in the church,” said Rev. Jonathan Morgan of the First Congregational Church of Eugene. “Every time he gave, it was on behalf of the other person. He wasn’t doing it for his own satisfaction. He liked to bring light into someone else’s life.”
A joint memorial service for Ted and Marie Baker is planned for the fall. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Ted Baker can be made to the Boy Scouts of America, the Pearl Buck Center or the United Way.
Contact reporter Adam Duvernay at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @DuvernayOR.