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Donald Gardner BAKER


1923 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Donald Gardner BAKER Obituary
July 20, 1923 ~ March 10, 2014 Beloved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and friend. Passed away peacefully on March 10th, 2014. Preceded in death by loving wife Jacqueline M. with whom he shared 55 wonderful years of marriage, mother Florence K., father William E., brother-in-law Jacques Mouzel and nephew Jean Thierry Mouzel. Survived by son William G. (Mary) and beloved grandson James G., all of St. Paul. Also survived by beloved cousins Frances O'Sullivan (Michael) and Carol Papirnik of Buchanan, Michigan; sister-in-law Janine Mouzel and niece Pascale De Sparre (Eric), great nieces and nephew, and great-nephew, all of Paris, France. Outwardly a man of steely reserve, he treasured his family and friends. An only child of an only child, later in life he greatly appreciated and enjoyed being part of a larger extended family through the marriage of his son. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, with the exception of his military service, Donald spent his entire life in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul. He graduated from Murray High School class of 1941. Upon America's entry into the Second World War, he joined the Army Air Corps, beginning his education as a climatologist . He attended the University of Chicago and trained at several Army Air Corps bases including Rapid City SD, before being deployed to the European theater. He was stationed near Wantage, England during the war as a meteorologist, providing weather information to the Air Corps pilots and crews who flew missions over occupied Europe. Upon the liberation of France in 1944, he was stationed at Orly Airfield in Paris. A dashing Lieutenant, he met a lovely young French woman named Jacqueline Mouzel. Their romance flourished and they became engaged in 1945. Their plans were interrupted by the Korean conflict when he was re-called for service by the newly established U.S. Air Force and he served in Korea from 1951-1952, where he received the Bronze Star for Merit. After his discharge, he was finally allowed to complete his romance with Jacqueline, and they were married in Paris at the Chapel of the Hotel des Invalides on Valentines Day 1953. The happy couple returned to St. Paul, where Donald continued his education. Upon achieving his doctorate in Climatology and Soil Science in 1958, Donald began his long career as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota. He established the Climatological Observatory just north of the campus, and built it with help from his students in 1960. This Observatory has recorded subsoil temperatures for over 50 years, and has provided an unprecedented database for climate change research. Donald was a Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also honored with a Governer's Award of Recognition (Governor Rudy Perpich) in 1984 for his assessment of wind energy potential in the state of Minnesota, and he received a National Weather Service career award in 1986 for his contributions to agricultural meteorology. After his retirement as a professor, Donald was a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota for contributions to teaching and research. Donald was a man of many interests including photography, railroading, archaeology, the stock market, and mentoring students. Donald spent his summers as a boy visiting his grandparents in Wellman, Iowa. From those times he gained a love of the people, natural beauty and productivity of the farm fields of Iowa that lasted his entire life. Always a true gentleman and outwardly a man of steely reserve, Donald treasured his family and friends. An only child of an only child, later in life he greatly enjoyed being part of a larger extended family through the marriage of his son. The family would like to thank the staff and management of the St. Anthony Park Home for their kind and loving care. Memorials preferred to the University of Minnesota Baker Scholarship Fundor to St. Anthony Park Methodist Church. Burial at a later date near Wellman, Iowa. Visitiation to be held 3-6 p.m. Sunday March 16, O'Halloran & Murphy Funeral Home. Services to be held on Monday March 17 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Anthony Park United Methodist Church, Como and Hillside Avenues in St. Paul.
Published in Pioneer Press from Mar. 14 to Mar. 16, 2014
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