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Walter R. Baker

Walter R. Baker

Walter R. Baker, Jr., age 89, of Morris formerly of Park Rapids, Minn., passed away Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 in Morris.

Walter was born June 5, 1924, in Willmar, Minn. He was the second of seven children for Walter Sr. and Grace (Larson) Baker of Kerkhoven.

He graduated eighth grade from District 15S Country School in rural Kerkhoven in June 1938. After that, he worked as a farm hand and trucker for his family and neighbors.

Walter was drafted into the U.S. Army in March of 1945. He trained at Camp Robinson, Little Rock, Ark. and was stationed in the Philippines for the duration of WW II. When Walter was drafted, his father sold out on the farm.

Upon his discharge, Walter returned to Kerkhoven, where he found work driving grain and livestock trucks and later became a grain buyer for the Farmers Elevator.

On May 17, 1951, Walter married Ronata Burk of DeGraff and to this union five children were born: Tony, Alyn, Tim, Rhonda and Sue. The couple made their first home in Ortonville. Walter was employed as a grain buyer for Hanson Elevator and later became service manager and salesman for Lohman Chevrolet.

The family moved to Willmar, and Walter sold trucks for Nelson International. The family then moved near Hancock when Walter worked for Esser Motors in Morris.

In 1969, Walter accepted a job with the Minnesota Department of Transportation as a Safety Inspector and the family moved to Park Rapids. Walter worked in the 14 northwestern counties of Minnesota and knew almost every trucker in his territory by his first name and his rig. He retired from the DOT in 1989. He moved to Morris in 2011.

Throughout his life, Walter enjoyed gardening, fishing, the Minnesota Twins and a good game of cards.

Funeral services for Walter Baker will be held on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 11 a.m. at St. Peters Catholic Church in Park Rapids with Father Thomas Freidl officiating. Burial will be in the church cemetery. Military honors will be provided by the Otto Hendrickson American Legion.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Jones-Pearson Funeral Home of Park Rapids and for one hour prior to services at the church on Thursday.

Walter is survived by his children: Alyn (Patti) of Northfield, Minn.; Tim (Denise) of Rosemount, Minn.; Rhonda (Kendon) Lange of Morris and Sue (Jim) Dieter of Morris; a daughter-in-law, Karen Baker of Debs; eight grandchildren; four sisters: Florence Nelson of Littleton, Colo; Dorothy Brown of Ortonville, Minn.; Mary (Don) Richardson of Minneapolis; and Ione Johnson of Bloomington, Minn., and a brother, James (Sandi) Baker of Eden Prairie.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Joyce Schutt of DeGraff in 1987; his wife, Ronata in 1997 and his son, Tony in 2012.