William “Bill” Baker passed away Aug. 26, 2016, in Eugene, Ore., after suffering from severe head trauma created by a fall Aug. 23 in Florence, Ore. He was born May 29, 1942, in Oregon City to Henry and Helen Baker, joining five brothers and a sister from Helen’s first (deceased) husband.
Bill was raised on a dairy farm in Oregon City until his father accepted employment driving a mail truck from The Dalles to Bend. In 1959, the family moved to The Dalles, where Bill attended and graduated from The Dalles High School in 1960. He then enrolled in the Northwest School of Broadcasting located in Portland and joined the National Guard Army Reserve. He was 18 years old when he graduated from the school of broadcasting and took his first job in radio at KPOD in Crescent City, Calif. He was the youngest licensed broadcaster at the time in the state.
In 1962, Bill moved to radio station KLOO in Corvallis. In late 1963, he was hired by radio station KRAF in Reedsport, where he met Linda Knowles, his future bride, through a local radio station contest.
They were married for 52 years, beginning on Aug. 29, 1964, in the backyard of Linda’s parents. They lived in a small apartment in Gardiner, Ore., until November of 1964, when Bill was hired to become operations manager and general manager for KIHR radio in Hood River. It was a position he would hold for 24 years, relinquishing it when he opted out in favor of a career change. They would end up living in Hood River for the next 35 years. In June of 1965, Bill and Linda had their first son, Randy; Tony would follow in June of 1967 and in June of 1969 Paul would complete the Baker family.
Bill learned early to evaluate and take charge of situations — in other words, to exercise leadership — and to rely on himself for personal advancement. And so he did, becoming a diplomat, a salesman and a leader. When Bill arrived in Hood River, he immediately became a community supporter. Bill served wherever he saw a need, and no activity was less important than another. He sat on and / or chaired the following: Little League and Babe Ruth baseball, Jaycees, Hood River Swim Team (“15 minutes ‘til warm-up”), Hood River Chamber of Commerce (he helped organize the first Harvest Festival in Hood River), Hood River Visitors Council, 12 years on the Hood River County School Board, 12 years on the Port of Hood River Commission, Oregon Tourism Alliance, Mt. Hood Economic Alliance, City of Hood River Urban Renewal Agency, and director and public relations chairman for the Oregon Alliance of Senior and Health Services. Bill received many recognitions for his accomplishments, including Member of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce, the Service to Education Award from the Oregon Education Association, Distinguished Service Award from the Jaycees, and Special Service Award from the Hood River County Fair Board.
In 1989, Bill’s desire for a career change led him to the position of the first administrator of Down Manor Retirement facility in Hood River, once again thriving as a leader. In 1999, he moved to Westmoreland Union Manor in Portland to accept the administrator position, and he would hold this position until retirement in 2006.
Bill and Linda spent the next two years traveling the Oregon coast in their motorhome. In 2009, they landed at Woahink Lake RV Resort in Florence, Ore., where he met owners Ken and Katie Greger. It didn’t take long for Bill to become the unofficial mayor and host of the park. He would spend the last seven years of his life enjoying the company of everyone he met at the park.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Helen Baker. He is survived by Linda (wife), son Randy and his wife Tracy, son, Tony and his partner Darweshi and son, Paul, his step-grandson Anthony Hylton and wife Kristina, and great granddaughter Kasia Hylton.
A celebration of life will be held Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. at the Hood River Elks Ballroom.