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Dr. Arthur Gerard Baker

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Dr. Arthur Gerard
Dr. Arthur Gerard Baker, of Dallas, PA, formerly of New Hartford, NY, passed away on Monday, November 25, 2013. He was 94. Dr. Baker was born in 1919 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was a public health officer and public policy pioneer. He was graduated from Calvin College and received his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1943. His practice of medicine began at the university hospital during WWII. He continued in Clay and Jackson Counties, KY as a medical missionary in wartime Appalachia where he was a coroner, public health officer and the only doctor for two counties. He traveled by Model A Ford and horse to coal miners, moonshiners, and mountain peoples cabins to deliver babies by lantern light, the charge being $15 per delivery. Post-war, he returned to Michigan where he continued his public health studies, commuting cross-state by train to U of M while practicing public health in western Michigan. Afterward he moved to East Lansing where he worked in the health department of the state of Michigan until 1954. He then moved to Pennsylvania working first as deputy director of the Pittsburgh Department of Health and subsequently organized the Allegheny County Health Department, serving a population of 1.6 million people. The family moved to Illinois in 1958, where Dr. Baker founded the Lake County Health Department. He encouraged construction of new water and sewage treatment plants to remedy the growing problem of pollution of Lake Michigan, receiving the Crumbine Award for excellence in environmental health in 1963. In 1966, he moved to Albany, NY to become Associate Commissioner of Health, responsible for Community Health Services with offices in Albany and New York City and, later, became Medical Epidemiologist for the state. He worked on migrant labor issues with Senator Robert Kennedy and dealt with the cleanup of the noxious Love Canal, near Buffalo, NY. He testified as an expert witness before the US Supreme Court, the Warren Court, on behalf of NY States higher-than-national standards for nursing homes. He then assumed the position of Health Commissioner for Oneida County for 5 years, beginning in 1979. The last seven years of his career he worked in a Womens Alzheimers Unit in the Utica Psychiatric Hospital in Utica, NY. Dr. Baker saw service to the populace, rather than to the single individual, as his purpose. He was a life-long pacifist. His hero was Abraham Lincoln. He was an avid gardener, arborist, traveler and railroad enthusiast. He will be sorely missed. His wife of 65 years, Theresa, and daughter, Ellen, an attorney in upstate New York, predeceased him. He is survived by five children, Tannette, Kingston, PA; Margaret and her spouse, Robert Lewis, Huntsville; Paul and his spouse, Catherine Rigsby, Durham, North Carolina; Stephen and his spouse, Eileen Keller, Olympia, Washington; and Florence and her spouse, Michael Lee, Spruce Head, Maine; and seven grandchildren. A Celebration of Life service, officiated by Rev. Judy Walker and Rev. Earl Roberts, will be held at 1:00 PM, Tuesday, December 3rd, at Shavertown United Methodist Church, 163 N. Pioneer Avenue, Shavertown, PA. Visiting hours begin at Noon at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Friends Service Committee or a . Arrangements are by Harold C. Snowdon Funeral Home, Inc., 140 N. Main Street, Shavertown,PA.
Published in The Observer-Dispatch on Dec. 1, 2013
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