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Daniel Wirt Baker

1919 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Daniel Wirt Baker
July 1, 1919 - June 21, 2018
Resident of Lafayette
Daniel Wirt Baker, 98, passed away on June 21, 2018, after a short, hard fought battle against sarcoma cancer. He was born on July 1, 1919 in San Francisco, the son of Roe and Mary Baker, the third of four sons known as the "Baker Boys." He graduated from Polytechnic High and went on to City College of San Francisco and University of Nevada, where he played football, before graduating from University of California, Berkeley. He enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and completed his pre-flight training at St. Mary's College in Moraga and primary flight training in Livermore, eventually becoming a flight instructor in Opa-Locka, Florida training newly commissioned pilots to fly fighter planes and dive-bombers. In June 1944 he was assigned to the USS Intrepid and the Air Group 18 "Sunday Punchers" as a dive bomber which provided air support to invasion forces in the Philippines, Taipei and Okinawa. The Intrepid was a launch pad for the Battle of Leyte Gulf, arguably the largest battle in naval history, where his group was instrumental in sinking the second largest Japanese battleship, the Musashi, and where he scored a direct hit on the battleship Nagato. Dan also lost two planes into the sea and survived Kamikaze hits to the Intrepid on two occasions, the last one taking the lives of sixty nine crew members and pilots. In all, he was awarded the Navy Cross, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and five Air Medals. Upon leaving the Navy, he attended University of California Hastings College of Law and graduated in the class of 1949. While attending Hastings, Dan met his wife, Arlene, on a blind date, and they were married three months later. His love for her never diminished, describing her as "beauty itself" and "charming inside and out". They moved to Lafayette in 1952, where they had two children, Sara Kimberly (Kim) and Daniel Weston, and shared a wonderful life together for 65 years until Arlene's passing in 2012. In 1950 he formed and was a senior partner of Handler, Baker, Greene & Taylor that merged with Hanson, Bridgett of San Francisco in 1986. An accomplished lawyer, he specialized and was recognized as a national expert on intrastate and interstate transportation practices by motor carriers. He drafted legislation and testified before federal and state legislative committees, published numerous articles in trade and professional periodicals, lectured before trade organizations, seminars and university groups and published numerous authoritative studies of regulation of motor carriers in all 50 states. Dan was awarded many distinguished honors throughout his career including Lifetime Achievement, Distinguished Service and other awards from international lawyers associations. Once "retired" from Hanson Bridgett, he continued in his own private practice up until his death. This included teaching himself how to use the computer for the first time at the age of 83 and completed all his legal work and billing on his own. Dan and Arlene loved to travel, commencing every year the first week of February to the Hotel Del Coronado and then to Mexico. They traveled every year to an international lawyer's convention held throughout the U.S. and Canada and enjoyed traveling to Europe and Hawaii. Dan's favorite things in life were his family, especially his grandchildren (he never missed a game), entertaining and being with his devoted circle of longtime friends, his garden –and his spectacular rose garden, golf, which he played until recently, and he was a voracious reader. An ardent animal lover, he was extremely devoted to the German Shepherds and cats he had throughout the years. Dan also took great pride in being the oldest member of the Lafayette Rotary and was an active participant to the end. He is preceded in death by his three brothers, Roe, George and John. He leaves behind his daughter Kim (Gary Ireton), son Dan (Laurie) and three grandchildren, Brooks, Trent and Kendall and nephews and nieces and close companion, Thelma (Tillie) Schiller. A heartfelt "Thank You" to special friends and neighbors, Linda and Ted Kurihara.
Donations may be made in Dan's name to www.aspca.org, www.lafayettecommunityfoundation.org or to the Navy's www.safeharborfoundation.org.

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Published in East Bay Times from Sept. 8 to Sept. 9, 2018
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