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Hollis MacLure BAKER

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BAKER, Hollis MacLure

An extraordinary man, Hollis MacLure Baker died peacefully at home on April 19, 2014. He was 97. Hollis MacLure Baker was born April 27, 1916. He was the son of Hollis Siebe and Ruth MacLure Baker. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, attended Central High School and the University of Virginia. During World War II, he served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy and was in Japan shortly after Hiroshima. After the war, he joined his father, Hollis S. Baker, founder of Baker Furniture of Grand Rapids. He introduced the highly successful English reproduction line, Woburn Abbey. Under his guidance and imagination, sales were expanded. In 1947, he married Betsy Brown and they enjoyed 51 wonderful years together. They had two daughters, Tomelyn and Susan. In 2004 he married Elsie Leigh of Palm Beach and lived happily with her until his death. He learned to sail at 7, was an avid racer and 20 year participant in the Chicago-Mackinac sailboat race. Among the 15 boats he owned throughout his life, he designed the HMS Dolphin, a small scale, three masted, square rigged, barkentine which he could single handedly sail. Remarkably, he was also able to transfer a childhood love of building model trains into the creation and development of Boyne City Railroad, a small passenger train he lovingly restored. The seven mile journey was powered by an English steam engine he found in London. He and his family spent winter weekends skiing in Boyne Mountain in northern Michigan, then creatively building a tiny ski chalet and giving his daughters a lifelong love of the sport. In midlife, he became an enthusiastic researcher, historian, collector and renovator of medieval castles in England, France and Italy. His attention to detail and sense of humor was evident in his book, "Five Castles are Enough," after which he bought two more! He was an active member in many clubs throughout the US and Europe: the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, Kent Country Club, the Little Harbor Club, the New York Yacht Club, the Brook Club, the River Club, the Talbot Country Club, the Chesapeake Yacht Bay Club, the Bucks Club, the Royal Thames Yacht Club, the Chevaliers du Tastevin, and his very favorite group, the Sandpipers. Mr. Baker is survived by his two daughters, Tomi Rawls of Tampa, Florida and Susy Flach of Mt. Dora, Florida; his grandchildren, Teal Howard, Ashley Danzi and Anderson Flach. He is also survived by his lovely wife, Elsie Baker and his four stepchildren; Amanda Borghese, Pidgie Chapman, Prudy Blair and Winthrop Lewis. Hollis Baker's life was almost magical at times. Those who knew him, for a few hours or many years, came away in wonderment about the scope of his interests and his grasp of information. Full of energy, he was a lover of history and detail and a man of extreme creativity and imagination. He spent his life turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Above all, he was very loved. A celebration of a life well lived was held at the Royal Poinciana Chapel in Palm Beach, Florida.

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Published in The Palm Beach Post from Apr. 27 to Apr. 28, 2014
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