September 26, 2023

Bob Baker, vehicle dealership operator, philanthropist, dies at 89

Whilst his father was a utilized car or truck wholesaler and at least two of his uncles have been automotive salesmen, Bob Baker experienced no intention of finding into the car business.

A devout Catholic who attended religious educational institutions as a baby, Baker desired to be a priest.

For the history:

8:15 a.m. Sept. 8, 2021This story corrects the spelling of Bob Baker’s mother’s identify to Dory. Also, Baker operator 25 vehicle dealerships in the course of his occupation.

Rather, perhaps by way of a mix of fate and have to have, he would obtain achievements in proudly owning extra than 25 car dealerships all over the region in the course of a occupation that spanned 60 many years. He also would anguish over a deadly crash involving one of his motor vehicles that killed a relatives and led to a around the globe remember.

Baker, 89, died at his Rancho Santa Fe property on Sunday. His son, Chris, the youngest of 5 Baker youngsters, mentioned the induce was a mixture of dementia, lymphoma and renal failure.

“Bob was not complicated,” reported his pal and former small business lover Dave Ezratty, who now lives in Idaho. “He taught you the very simple things: ‘Watch the pennies and nickels and that will get you the pounds.’ Bob did not hand out everything he gave people chance. If they listened to him, they would be thriving. He wanted everybody to be successful, even his rivals.”

Baker was born on Oct. 1, 1931, at Queen of Angels Medical center in Los Angeles, the oldest of four small children of Halem and Dory (Peterson) Baker. He grew up in Los Angeles in the course of the Depression and as an 8-calendar year-old, would obtain publications for 8 cents and then market them for a dime to assist assist the loved ones. He later on took on a newspaper route.

When he was 10, Baker’s parents divorced and he invested the relaxation of his childhood in foster residences, boarding residences and on the streets, Chris Baker reported.

Chris Baker reported that when his father “learned that sons from divorced family members weren’t authorized to enter the priesthood,” Baker enlisted in the U.S. Military in 1951 to combat in the Korean War. He was 19. Two a long time afterwards, he achieved the front lines.

“He fought in the struggle for Outpost Harry, a strategic posture on a very small hilltop on the direct route to the South Korean capital of Seoul,” Chris Baker said. “The embattled troops have been instructed to ‘hold at all fees.’”

Baker later on produced a 2010 documentary, “Hold at All Fees: The Tale of the Fight of Outpost Harry,” to commemorate individuals concerned in the battle. In 2016, Baker donated $250,000 for a 30-foot-tall bell tower at Miramar Countrywide Cemetery in memory of his Korean War comrades.

Baker participated in extra than two dozen “harrowing evening patrols,” Chris Baker mentioned, and once volunteered “to go on a mission from which he was told he would not return.”

Monsignor Dan Dillabough from the College of San Diego realized Baker for 25 many years. Dillabough reported that Baker explained to him that as he well prepared for that mission, he prayed and designed a pact that if he survived, he would return to California, marry his wartime pen pal, Sherrill King, increase a relatives, turn out to be productive and provide God.

But right before Baker was equipped to total that mission, Chinese soldiers attacked two hours before than envisioned.

“He had to retreat through the minefields, top two squads securely back to the main bunker at Outpost Harry,” Chris Baker recalled. “He was on the entrance lines until finally a truce was declared and his Military assistance finished in December 1953.”

Baker was awarded two Bronze Star medals, among the many others, for his steps in beat.

Bill Barber, who claimed he satisfied Baker at the Burbank airport when they ended up the two heading for their Army detail in Korea, explained it was difficult for him to speak about the decline of his buddy of approximately 70 a long time. He reminisced about fishing journeys, and attending Rams, Chargers and Padres online games with each other.

“We experienced so numerous wonderful situations jointly,” Barber mentioned. “I ought to have acquired 50 autos from him more than 60 many years. We have been friends forever. He was the ideal friend a particular person could request for. He lived a full existence.”

When he returned from the war to California, he married King and enrolled in company classes at Woodbury College or university in Burbank. When his wife became expecting with their very first baby, Michael, in 1954, Baker started advertising automobiles at a friend’s Ford dealership.

“(My dad) was a all-natural salesman with a speedy and glowing smile, and he became an prompt good results,” Chris Baker claimed. “From income he was promoted into profits administration and sooner or later tasked with managing vehicle dealerships.”

In 1965, Baker experienced an chance to buy his own dealership in Indiana. He set up and grew Bob Baker Chevrolet in Indianapolis into a accomplishment. His eldest son, Mike, started out doing work for his dad as a 15-calendar year-outdated.

Baker eventually sold that dealership and moved to San Diego, paying for what was then College Ford. He steadily expanded and developed up the Bob Baker Auto Team of dealerships with models these kinds of as Chevy, Toyota, Lexus, Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Ford, Acura, Cadillac, Nissan and Subaru. And he was driving the catchy marketing jingle, “The Bob Baker Auto Group, exactly where it is so good to be pleasant.”

His economic accomplishment authorized him the capability to dwell out his genuine passion of serving God by supporting the community and all those in want, Chris Baker stated.

Baker earmarked tens of millions of bucks above the several years to assist Catholic churches and colleges, applications for military services veterans and underwriting for Alternatives for Improve, a nonprofit that helps get North County homeless households off the streets

Chris Megison, who heads Methods for Alter, reported he related with Baker on a selection of stages. Megison is a previous Maritime whose father also served in Korea. The two gentlemen also shared an abiding religion in God.

“What definitely struck me with Bob was he so believed that his reason on Earth, mainly because of what he survived in Korea, was portion of his pact with God,” Megison explained. “And so he was carrying that pact out and generating an impact on households that were homeless. All of our discussions have been close to humanity and the very good in people today.”

Baker was devastated when a family of four was killed though driving in a loaner car from his Lexus dealership in El Cajon in 2009. The deaths happened when the car’s accelerator pedal grew to become trapped and the car or truck raced out of management.

The scenario acquired throughout the world notice more than unintended acceleration problems in Toyota and Lexus automobiles.

Relatives users of the victims — CHP Officer Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-regulation — sued Baker and Toyota for wrongful loss of life. Nearby and federal investigations discovered that improperly set up flooring mats in the Lexus model could trigger the fuel pedal to adhere.

Due to the fact then, Toyota has recalled 10 million automobiles for repairs and has paid additional than $1 billion in fines and lawsuits. Baker paid out an undisclosed sum to kinfolk of the Saylors.

“He was devastated from the incident, it was incredibly unpleasant for him to know what took place to the Saylor household,” Chris Baker explained. “We believe the greatest cause was defects in the production of the car or truck that prompted unintended acceleration. The complete detail produced a rift in the marriage concerning my father and Toyota. I imagine any finger pointing to my father’s dealership was ultimately vindicated by the fact that Toyota recalled tens of millions of cars for unintended acceleration.”

The past dealership Bob Baker owned was Bob Baker Toyota. He offered that dealership and entirely retired in April 2016. He experienced earlier bought the stability of his remaining dealership ownerships to his son, Chris, in 2014. Chris Baker ordered and expanded his Carlsbad spots and is continuing the Bob Baker Car Team legacy. Chris Baker’s son, Cobi, 27, is also scheduling to carry on in the household auto small business.

Baker was preceded in loss of life by his spouse, Sherrill his brothers, Dick and Ron Baker and his sister, Peggy Stewart. He is survived by his kids and their family members Mike, Bridget and Austin Baker Elizabeth (Baker) and Robert Treloar Theresa (Baker), Sean and Eric Hertel Mary (Baker) and Mike Ross and Chris, Maria, Bryan, Cobi and Emily Baker. He is also survived by many fifty percent siblings.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Sept. 18 at St. Therese of Carmel Catholic Church in Carmel Valley. Baker’s ashes will be split, to be interned beside his wife’s stays at the Church of the Nativity in Rancho Santa Fe, and at the Miramar cemetery.

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