Cover photo for Don C. Baker's Obituary
Don C. Baker Profile Photo
1955 Don 2024

Don C. Baker

July 11, 1955 — February 7, 2024


Don Baker passed away at home on Feb. 7, 2024, at age 68. Don was born on July 11, 1955 in Honolulu, Hawaii to Major Donald A. Baker and Mary Ann (Sheets) Baker. He was the youngest of their four sons. Don’s father was a WWII aviator who was stationed in Hawaii after his service in the Korean War. While the family was in Hawaii Don’s parents took him and his three brothers to play on long, empty white beaches that today are packed with high-rise hotels. From Hawaii the Baker family went to Biggs Army Airfield at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, for two years, and then was sent overseas to Ankara, Turkey, for four years (1958-1962), where Don and his brothers were surrounded by classical Greek and Roman ruins that they frequently explored. On their way home from Turkey the Baker family toured the countries of Europe before boarding a ship for their return to America. The family was next stationed at the Army’s aviation school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where their father instructed pilots who would go on to fly in the Vietnam War, and where Don and his brothers became accustomed to noisy formations of airplanes and helicopters passing overhead day and night. Don played Little League baseball and football at Ft. Rucker, and his family later lived in Burkburnett, Texas, where he also played Little League baseball, before moving to Albuquerque where Don’s parents retired and in 1969 bought a house, their first (and only) permanent home, where they lived the rest of their lives. From that home Don finished high school and then attended the University of New Mexico. While taking a golf class he met and fell in love with his future wife, JoBeth, and they later had a son, Donnie. The family would enjoy many great times playing tennis, swimming, basketball, juggling, and skating, and Don proved to be a natural at all of these activities. Don graduated from UNM in 1978 with a Bachelor of University Studies degree, focusing on media and photography. For the rest of his life, Don was devoted to photography, building his own darkroom in which he developed film and printed hundreds of photographs, many of which appeared in books, magazine articles, and his own books. He shot aerial photographs from his brother Tom’s Piper Cub and from an open-cockpit Pietenpol Aircamper, in whose construction he assisted and extensively documented with his photographs. In recent years Don often walked the downtown streets of Albuquerque with his camera, recording various aspects of outdoor city life, and he used many of these photographs to produce a documentary video that he entitled The Roundabout. No matter where he was, Don was seldom without a camera. His other main passion was sports, and in addition to his interest in national basketball and football teams he avidly followed the minor-league professional basketball teams that were based in Albuquerque, such as the Thunderbirds, the Slivers, and the Slam, often going behind the scenes into locker rooms and offices to interview and photograph players and coaches. He became friends with many well-known basketball players and radio sportscasters, and he documented their activities in a book he titled Renegade Fan, which he also illustrated with his photographs. For a time he assisted Bob Smith of Albuquerque’s KOB radio (the famous “Sports Smith)” in broadcasting UNM Lobo games, sometimes taking the microphone himself to interview players. Don also had an interest in classic American and foreign movies, and he liked old automobiles, especially Saabs; he owned several models of these cars over the years. Don worked at different times for the Borden and Sysco companies in Albuquerque. Don’s many friends will remember his great generosity and willingness to pitch in whenever any sort of help was needed by family or friends. Whether he was helping to build a garage, digging ditches for waterpipes, pouring concrete slabs, painting a house, pushing or towing old cars around, or any other task, he approached it (and took pictures of it) with an energy and sense of humor that always made him fun to be around. Don will be sorely missed by the many people who knew and loved him. He was preceded in death by his parents, Donald A. and Mary Ann Baker, and his brother Bob. He is survived by his wife JoBeth Baker and son Donnie Baker of Albuquerque, his brother Tom Baker and Tom’s wife Elise, also of Albuquerque, his brother John Baker of Salt Lake City, Utah, his sister-in-law Deborah Andrus and nephew Justin Andrus of Albuquerque, his nieces Mary Wright of Norman, Oklahoma, Ivy Anne Mueller of Rio Rancho, and Heather Griffiths of London, England.

There will be a brief graveside ceremony at Calvary Catholic cemetery at 10 AM on Wed. the 13th of March, where his ashes will be interred beside the graves of his parents, followed by a memorial gathering of friends and relatives at a date to be announced later.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Don C. Baker, please visit our flower store.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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