JOHN T. BAKER MUNSTER, IN June 30, 1918-Aug. 5, 2014
John Thomas Baker, known his whole life as "Jack," was born in his family home at 28 Doty St., Hammond, Ind., on June 30, 1918. He was the second of four children born to Tony and Isabel Baker. As a lad, Jack demonstrated the uncanny ability to disassemble and rebuild all kinds of mechanisms, including the Christmas presents given to him by his bemused family. He attended St. Joseph Grade School in Hammond. Ever the canny businessman, he raised his own chickens as a boy and sold eggs during the Depression. He graduated from Hammond High School in 1936. Jack served in the South Pacific on the island of Saipan during World War II. He was proud of his service to his country. After the war, he got a job in the Chemistry Department at American Maize, the one and only company for which he worked. From the late 1960s on, Jack was responsible for designing and programming the computer systems that ran Amaizo. He retired as treasurer of the company. He was a member of Amaizo's Golf and Bowling Leagues and a founder of its retiree newsletter, which he edited and published for more than 20 years. Jack discovered stamps and coins at age 6 and was an avid collector of both his entire life. For many years, he owned his own business, Stamps, Coins N Stuff, in Crown Point. He got many young stamp collectors started with their first stamps and albums. He was a beloved, longtime member of the Calumet Stamp Club, as well as the American Numismatic Association and the American Philatelic Society. Jack also was a member of the Serra Club and Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as a longtime member and treasurer of the Catholic Order of Foresters. He was a champion golfer, and an avid traveler. Jack was fortunate enough to have not one, but two great loves in his life. The first was Marjorie (Baxter) Baker, to whom he was married for 32 years. He and Marge adopted two children, Randy and Ellen. After Marge's death, he met the second love of his life, Irene (Schmal Sterbenc) Baker, to whom he was wed for 38 years. Jack loved a bargain, and his second marriage included the free bonus of 11 stepchildren. Jack died on Tuesday, August 5, 2014, while under the care of Hospice. Jack will be most fondly remembered and dearly missed for his goodness and kindness. He nurtured his own children, his stepchildren, and countless nieces and nephews and never turned away anyone in need of help. In his later years, he would frequently hand one of his children $50 and say, "Go buy food for the St. Joseph Soup Kitchen or St. Vincent de Paul." He was a man of integrity and a man of his word. Jack was a teacher - not too patient, sometimes - who always wanted kids to learn to do things right. One lesson we remember: "Always do the right thing. It doesn't matter if it is difficult. It doesn't matter if it is not popular. It doesn't matter if no one knows you did it. Your responsibility is to do what is right. That is what is expected of you." Jack's Faith was of utmost importance to him. Never one to criticize, he always held himself to high standards of behavior and encouraged others to do likewise. In the last several years, his health prevented him from going to Church, which he sincerely regretted. He did enjoy watching the Mass on television and actively participated by reciting the responses. He anticipated with great joy the reception of Holy Communion, brought to him by the Eucharistic Ministers. He prayed his rosary several times per day, and kept one under his pillow so that he could pray it if he happened to wake up during the night. Jack was a member of St. Thomas More Church, Munster. He leaves behind his beautiful wife, Irene; children: Randall John Baker, Muskegon, Mich.; Ellen Baker Longawa, Munster; Mary Bernadette, Auburndale, Fla., Ed Sterbenc (Cathy Fitzgerald), Palo Alto, Calif., Patricia (Terry) Mangan, Oklahoma City; Rene Sterbenc (Karen Matthews), Calumet City, Ill.; Louis (Kristina) Sterbenc, Pipersville, Pa.; Nancy Sivak, Dyer, Ind.; Janet (Mark) Radziejeski, Topeka, Kan.; Anthony Sterbenc, Barrington, Ill.; Joseph (Sara) Sterbenc, Homewood, Ill.; and Kathryn Sterbenc (Matthew Kowalski), Oakland, Calif.; grandchildren, Jennifer (Nyle) McCollum, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Brooke (Nathan) Leeball, Muskegon; David Longawa (Cindy Pistone), Berkeley, Calif.; Robert (Jennifer) Hayes, Lake Alfred, Fla.; Jeffrey Sterbenc (Nicole Neff), Skokie, Ill.; Christopher (Phaedra) Sterbenc, Scotts Valley, Calif.; John and Michael Sterbenc, Palo Alto; Brian (Jamie) Mangan, Cumming, Ga.; Luke Mangan, Monterey, Calif.; Wesley Fultz, Hammond; Debbie (Bill) Lewter, Hammond; Monica (Matthew) Laird, Franklin, Tenn.; Melinda Sterbenc, Lansing, Ill.; Ian Sivak, Carmel, Ind.; Johanna (Jacob) Kilar, Bloomington, Ind.; Rebecca Radziejeski, Topeka; Matthew Sterbenc, Barrington; and Maxwell, Samuel and Thomas J. Sterbenc, Homewood; great-grandchildren, Forrest, Hunter and Jade McCollum, Scottsdale; Julian Leeball, Muskegon; Hayden and Trevor Hayes, Lake Alfred; William, Henry and Katherine Sterbenc, Skokie; Lauren and Alexander Sterbenc, Scotts Valley; Grace and Olivia Mangan, Cumming; Hayden and Megan Lewter, Hammond; Cayden and Kaylee Speerbrecker, Lansing; and Jackson Kilar, Bloomington; sister-in-law Ann Baker, Pensacola, Fla.; and many nephews, nieces and cousins. And Ginger the dog. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Marge; stepson Thomas E. Sterbenc; grandsons: David Mangan and Joseph B. Sterbenc; brother Bob Baker, and sisters: Isabel "Sis" Jackson and Betty Miklusak, brothers-in law and sisters-in-law. Visitation will take place from 4-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 at Burns-Kish Funeral Home, 8415 Calumet Ave., Munster and an half hour before Mass at the Church. The funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 at St. Thomas More Church, 8501 Calumet Ave., Munster. Interment will be at St. John St. Joseph Cemetery Hammond, IN. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the
, including the Share Foundation; the St. Joseph Soup Kitchen of Hammond; Hospice of the Calumet Area and the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Thomas More Church, Munster. When you do the right thing today, remember Jack. www.burnskish.com
Burns-Kish Funeral Home and Cremation Services
8415 Calumet Ave.
Munster, IN 46321
Published in The Times on Aug. 7, 2014