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Gerald Fay Baker Jr.

1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Gerald Fay Baker Jr. Obituary
Naples, Florida
Detroit and Troy Michigan

1931 - 2017

Passed March 2, 2017, Aged 85. Beloved husband of Shirley G (Galpin) currently of Naples Florida and formerly of Des Moines Iowa and the late Ilene Dorothy (Richmond) Baker (married February 10, 1951 until her passing). Born June 19, 1931 to Gerald F and Mildred H (Putnam) Baker of Flint, Michigan, Jerry was a 1949 graduate of Detroit Thomas M Cooley HS after attending University of Detroit Jesuit HS circa 1945-47. Jerry served in the US Air Force during the Korean War and as a member of the Detroit Police force. Following service to his country and community, Jerry held several positions with SS Kresge Co and Kmart Corp.

Known as America's Master Gardener(R), Jerry gained notoriety with the publication of his first book, runaway bestseller, Plants Are Like People and a record album by the same name in 1972. Over the years, Jerry wrote or inspired more than 100 books on gardening, household hints, and health.

His 50 year career in gardening included, in the 1970s, frequent appearances on TV shows like Dinah's Place, The Mike Douglas Show, The Merv Griffin Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He hosted his own TV show, Plants Are Like People, and appeared weekly as a gardening expert on TV morning shows like Kennedy and Company in Chicago and on the ABC affiliates' morning shows in New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles. In the 1980s and 90s Jerry was spokesperson for Kmart Garden Centers and hosted On the Garden Line radio show, syndicated on hundreds of stations across the country every Saturday morning. Later in his broadcasting career, Jerry was featured in popular programming on PBS and was a regular on QVC. Today, Jerry Baker's wit, wisdom, know how and "grow-how" continues through a business and website by the same name.

Survived by his and Ilene's beloved children, grandchildren and great grandchild: Their daughters Suzanne I Koleszar of Walled Lake Michigan, Diane K Gasior (Kim A) of Brighton Michigan, Patricia A Strait (Harold H) Rochester Hills Michigan, Kathryn A Stubleski (Andrew M) of Ellicott City Maryland, their son Jeffrey S Baker (Lorie A Ryan) of Birmingham Michigan, their grandchildren Mathew J Koleszar , Patrick H Strait, Emily A Strait, Katelyn P Strait, Zachary A Gasior, Kelsey I Gasior, , Gerald F Baker III, John R R Baker, William A Stubleski, and Elizabeth K Stubleski and great grandson Conor P Strait. Also survived by his beloved brother-in-law and sisters-in-law Donald E and Mary Ellen Richmond of Redford Michigan and Nancy A Richmond (Paul D) of Clinton Township Michigan, loving nieces and nephews, Shirley's dear sons John Fitzsimmons of Naples Florida and David Fitzsimmons of Des Moines Iowa and many cherished friends.

Preceded in death by beloved wife of 43 years Ilene Dorothy (Richmond) Baker of Troy and Detroit Michigan on August 11, 1994, Parents Gerald F and Mildred H Baker, Ilene's parents Donald W and Edna D (Pringle) Richmond of Detroit Michigan, brother-in-law Paul D Richmond, brother Ronald J Baker of Alden Michigan and sister and brother-in-law Richard C and Beverly A Spaulding of Elkhart Indiana.

The immediate family plans a private remembrance. Jerry will be laid to rest at Rising Sun Cemetery in Pleasant Hill, Polk County, Iowa.
Published in Detroit Free Press on Mar. 5, 2017
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