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Joseph Michael Baum


1925 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Joseph Michael Baum Obituary
Joseph Michael Baum

Phoenix - Joseph Michael Baum passed away on April 8, 2019. He was 94 years old. Joe was born in Philadelphia, PA on March 2, 1925 to Morris and Frieda Baum.

His family moved to Brooklyn, NY when he was a young child. He attended Boys High School in Brooklyn.

After graduation, he joined the Navy. As part of an amphibious force, he was assigned to a Tank Landing Ship. He participated in two invasions of Japanese-held islands. He was present at the West Loch Disaster, an incident where a Tank Landing Ship exploded. The explosion caused other nearby vessels to catch on fire. Joe was onshore at the time of the explosion, but went out in a small craft and rescued sailors out of the water.

After the Navy, he went to school to become an auto mechanic; but he didn't enjoy the work as much as he thought he would. He later studied TV and Radio Broadcasting at NYU. He began working as a disc jockey at WWYO in Pineville, West Virginia.

He married the love of his life, Ruth Fisher, in 1958. Their first child, Glenn, was born in 1959 in Pineville, West Virginia. Soon they moved to Arizona and bought their first home in Phoenix in 1961.

Joe again worked as a disc jockey in the Phoenix market at KMEO. The pay wasn't great and the opportunities lacking, so he found better employment with the United States Postal Service. Joe worked as a letter carrier for most of his time at the Postal Service. He had a great rapport with his patrons. They would show their appreciation with home-baked cookies, boxes of chocolates, bottles of liquor, and other gifts around the holidays.

In 1964, their second child, Larry, was born.

Joe enjoyed spending summers at the family cabin in northern Arizona where the weather was much cooler. He enjoyed planting trees and bushes and tending to them. He liked to walk around the yard and talk about the different trees and their characteristics. When a relative would pass away, he would often plant a tree in their honor.

Joe was quite the conversationalist and loved telling jokes. And, oh boy, he had some good ones. He also had some corny ones. As an example: "There was this small country by the name of Gitchi-Gitchi. The rebels there overthrew the government. The next day the newspaper headline announced: Gitchi-Gitchi Coup!"

Joe enjoyed his extended family on both his and Ruth's sides and would always brag about his nieces and nephews and their children.

After retiring from the Postal Service, Joe took his love for broadcasting and put it to good use by recording for the blind. He recorded the newspaper for the blind for 20 years. He also sang in a group that would put on shows at senior centers and geriatric care facilities. He also enjoyed taking parts in plays, especially musicals.

In 1997, his beloved wife Ruth passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Joe truly believed that Ruth was the only one for him, and he never re-married.

Joe was very philanthropic and gave generously to many different charitable organizations. His mailbox was always full of letters from the charities.

He had an affinity for dogs and owned quite a few during his lifetime. He spared no expense when his companion Junior became ill, and he really grieved after he passed.

Late in life Joe began to slowly lose his vision. The doctors told him he had glaucoma and macular degeneration. It was very sad to see him lose his sight, because he had always been such an independent person.

One day Joe was listening to the news and heard a story about a doctor performing stem cell surgeries in Florida that could potentially restore vision. Joe travelled to Florida, and he had the surgery performed on both eyes. Sadly the operation did not help his vision. Unfortunately he never came to terms with the blindness.

Joe's son Glenn lived with him for many years after he became less and less able to live independently. Glenn's help allowed Joe to remain in his home rather than move to an assisted living facility. Joe spent his last years in his home, in the company of his son Glenn and his dogs, exactly where he wanted to be.

I know Joe would like to give thanks to Candice, Tomi, Genevee, Liz, Shelly, and Scotti for providing wonderful caregiving and companionship in his last years.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Apr. 14, 2019
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