December 27, 2010
TRAVERSE CITY — Calvin James Baker, 85, of Traverse City, passed away unexpectedly Monday, Dec. 27, 2010, at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. Calvin James was born on June 15, 1925, to the late Harold and Marjorie (Flynn) Baker in Vicksburg. As a young boy C.J. and his family left their native Indiana roots and moved to Michigan, Missouri and Florida to follow the expansion of the Rural Electric Association's efforts to bring electricity to the farmers of America. Later in life he would follow in the family trade and also become a lineman along with two of his three brothers. His family settled in Three Rivers, where C. J. attended high school and graduated from Three Rivers High School as a member of the class of 1943.His country was embroiled in the bitter war raging in Europe and Asia. Because of a heart murmur, he was unable to join the military and so served his country as a Merchant Seaman. C. J. shipped out of both East and West Coast ports during the war. Several times he traversed the Atlantic from New York to England through heavily occupied enemy waters, and later in the war found his ship on the Murmansk run taking him deep into Russia. On occasions his convoy would come under attack and ships were lost. The casualty rate of merchant sailors was among the highest of those serving our country, and C.J. was proud of his efforts during the war and those of the men in the Merchant Navy. In 1988, Merchant Sailors who served during World War II were recognized by the United Stated Government as veterans of that war.On June 9, 1951, C.J. entered into marriage with the former Gail M. Williams in Three Rivers. Gail and C.J. started a family, and C.J. made his living scaling poles and working on the lines for Clifton Engineering. He and the family moved to Niles in 1956. For many years to follow, he worked for the City of Niles in the Light and Power Department. As a member of the I.B.E.W. he served as local President. He also was active in the City's Civil Defense. His yellow CD helmet and the government issued Geiger-counter were great attractions to his young children. Moving to Traverse City in 1973, C.J. went to work for Davis Electric as Superintendent of the line crews and fulfilled a lifelong dream to live in Northern Michigan. C.J. and Gail moved to a home on West Bay and together enjoyed the beauty of the area every day. He was a devoted ambassador of the Grand Traverse area and would talk of it's virtues for hours to anyone who would listen. Over the last 16 years Gail and C.J. would spend their winters in Gulf Shores, Ala.C. J. had a passion for the water and enjoyed boating. He also enjoyed working with wood and making old things new. These interests blended nicely when he discovered his love for antique wood Chris Craft boats. For many years he would find old derelicts and turn them back into the works of beauty they once were. His favorite was a 1941 Chris Craft barrel-backed runabout christened "Digger". He shared this interest with a group of local boaters and restorers and was one of the charter members of the Water Wonderland Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society.In earlier years C.J. could often be found hunting and fishing with many friends and family. Spending time with his father, C.J. was able to cover area fishing and hunting in the western Upper Peninsula. C.J. had fond memories and a great love for the pets he was able to care for over the years, including Dolly, Sally, Figaro and Polly.Calvin is survived by his wife of over 59 years, Gail Baker; his sons, Jeffrey (Deborah) Baker, of Goshen, Ind., and Bradley (Kathleen) Baker, of Dowagiac; his daughter, Cynthia (Daniel) Kenny, of Niles; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; three brothers, Frederick (Laura) Baker, Harold Baker and Robert (Wiletta) Baker; and many other loving family members and friends.Calvin was preceded in death by his parents and stepparents. Visitation and viewing for friends and family will be held from noon until 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home in Traverse City. Graveside funeral services will take place in the spring. Please share thought's with the family at C.J.'s online guestbook at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com. The family is being served by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home.
TRAVERSE CITY — Calvin James Baker, 85, of Traverse City, passed away unexpectedly Monday, Dec. 27, 2010, at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. Calvin James was born on June 15, 1925, to the late Harold and Marjorie (Flynn) Baker in Vicksburg.... View Obituary & Service Information
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