Donald Eugene Baker, loving husband, brother and father, pharmacist, WWII Army Veteran, United States Public Health Service Captain, OSU fan and inveterate jokester, died on Sunday, June 8, 2014 at home after a long illness.
Don Baker had a many-storied life, beginning with his birth in Columbus Ohio. After graduating from West High School and Army Specialist Training, he enlisted in the Army in 1944. As a PFC Squad Leader at Camp Van Dorn in Mississippi, he sustained injuries during training. While recovering, he continued his military duty at Fort Jackson, SC working with German POWs while his 63rd Infantry Division, “Blood and Fire” 255th Regiment left to fight the Battle of the Bulge. Less than half of his division survived. Don was attracted to the pharmacy profession from the time he was a boy, delivering prescriptions on his bike. After his military service, he graduated from OSU with a degree in Pharmacy. Not content just to be a “pill pusher”, his profession saw him working around the country, from a leper colony in Carville, LA, to heading up a temporary relief pharmacy after the devastating Wilkes-Barre flood of 1972, receiving the prestigious Pfizer Award for his efforts. He met and married Ruth Louise Bull in 1952 in Marion, OH. They had two children, Brad and Amy, and Don operated his own drugstore in Galion, OH, before joining the U.S. Public Health Service in 1959. Frequent transfers kept the family on the move: to New Orleans, Seattle, Savannah, Perry Point, MD and Charlottesville, VA before finally settling in Marietta, GA. During this time, Don helped improve pharmacy conditions in nursing homes across the country, received numerous national awards as a consultant pharmacist and retired after 29 years from the U.S.P.H.S. with the rank of Captain. Post-retirement, Don married Patricia Swain, a watercolor artist, and began the next chapter of his life story, this one filled with new family and friends they met through travels to arts festivals, community theater, and Cherry Log Christian Church. The raucous holiday get togethers at their home in Blue Ridge were always memorable. They loved traveling in their RV and one of their last trips together was to Don’s 50th H.S. Reunion, where he won an award for having the most hair!
Don Baker was preceded in death by his parents, James and Bess Baker, brothers James, Art and Ed Baker, sisters Mildred Senn and Eula Kurlander as well as his wife and “Best Beloved”, Patricia Swain Baker, his step-son, Anthony Swain, and granddaughter Alex Matsatsos. He is survived by his son, James Bradley Baker of Cashiers, NC, daughter, Amy Baker Linton of Atlanta, his former wife Ruth Baker of Marietta, step-daughters Wendy Cox of Mineral Bluff, GA and Tina Maslankowski of McCaysville, GA, grandchildren Sophia Swain, Sarah Cox, Zachary Cox, Bobby Whitley, Adia Maslankowski and great-grandson Cade Newton as well as countless friends and compassionate caregivers. Don was a true animal lover and over the years gave a home to a number of stray cats and dogs.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Goathouse Refuge Animal Sanctuary: .
Akins Funeral Home of Blue Ridge, GA is in charge of the arrangements. A celebration of Don Baker's life will be held at Cherry Log Christian Church later this summer with interment at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Georgia.