Gene died unexpectedly December 20, 2011. Though he lived most of his life in Spokane, he was born in Sedan , Kansas September 23, 1927, to John D and Mamie M. (Mills) Baker. He attended Sedan High School, playing a variety of sports. Gene left school a year early when he joined the Navy during World War II. His service took him to Illinois , Rhode Island (where he completed his Sea Bee training), California (where he completed explosive ordnance disposal training), Idaho and Washington . While he was stationed at Farragut (ID) Naval Training Station, Gene met Helene Thormahlen of Fairfield, Washington during a chance encounter at Pattison's Roller Rink in Spokane. They were married December 15, 1945 and were together until Helene died June 10, 2010.
Gene completed his Navy tour in 1946, finished high school in 1947 in his home town, then moved back to Spokane with his family. He worked as a welder at Phillips Refinery, as a gas fitter for Industrial Burner Sales, and as a fire fighter for the City of Spokane until he retired with the rank of Lieutenant in 1983.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents, brothers-in-law Donald Houser, Harvey Clausen, and Rudy Thormahlen. He is survived by his daughter Karen J. Baker and her partner Laura L. Engle of Spokane, WA; granddaughter Nancy Merrick (John) and great-grandsons Jared and Ian Merrick of Ewa Beach, Hawaii; sisters Lena Houser of Commerce, Georgia and Linda Coykendall (Jon) of Kingman, Kansas; brothers Gary Baker (Mary Helen) of Harper, Kansas and Tommy Baker (Kathleen) of Snyder, Texas; sisters-in-law Anne Clausen of Fairfield, Washington and Eleanor Thormahlen of Spokane, Washington and many nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his second wife, Irene Hilde and her family. Gene was a sweet man who never met a stranger. He was "Mr. Fix It" to all who needed and benefited from his many skills, and a wonderful help-mate to Helene through her various physical challenges and battles with cancer.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 910 W 5th, Suite 256, Spokane WA 99204 or to the American Heart Association, 140 S Arthur, Suite 610, Spokane WA 99202 or to a charity of your choice.
Respectfully, Karen J. Baker, Laura L. Engle, Nancy K. Merrick