Maxwell F. Baker, 23
STERLING - Maxwell Francis Baker, 23, passed away unexpectedly at home on December 28, 2016. Max was a brilliant young man who was fiercely passionate about his interests in life: his first true love Emma, playing the drums and creating original music, listening to jazz, rock, and blues, shooting pool, following the Red Sox and Patriots, playing fantasy football with his family, and enjoying card games and chess. He was a brilliant writer who deeply enjoyed reading classic literature, and he was also a wild and free joyful dancer. Max was a thoughtful and generous gift-giver and in the week before his death he was excited to distribute delicate Christmas presents to his loved ones. The night he put up his last Christmas tree, he built a fire with wood he had split and he asked Emma to sing traditional carols. Macky (his family nickname) especially wanted to hear Emma sing "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" that special night.
Max leaves behind his parents James L. Baker, M.D., of Holden and Patricia A. (McPartlan) Baker of Sterling; the love of his life, Emma Hargraves of Framingham; his sister Arianne "Cuff" Baker, M.D., and her husband Sergio Arana of Cambridge; his brothers Casey J. Baker of Burke, Virginia, and Daniel P. Baker of Worcester; his stepmother Anne F. Remian of Holden, and his mother's partner Jon Malewski of Sterling. He also leaves his best friend and bandmate Ryan Clarke of Holden, his lifelong friend and mentor Eric M. Meyer, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont; aunts, uncles and cousins. Max also cared tenderly for his cat Aullie who he liked to call Agent Jack Bauer, and he loved to play fetch and tug-of-war with his family dog Gronky.
Max grew up in Sterling and attended Wachusett Regional High School. He graduated from Quinsigamond Community College with an Associate's degree in 2016 and he was especially proud to be elected to the Student Senate. He matriculated at UMass Lowell this year to earn his Bachelor's degree in Biology in preparation for a future career in medicine. At the time of his death he had made a calendar for "My 2017" with his plans to move to college full time where he could live with his other half, Emma, and continue working. Max and Emma planned to spend their lives together and talked about shopping for wedding bands soon.
Max struggled with addiction for several years of his adolescence. Despite his battles he marched forward and sought help and after years of dedication and hard work he was in recovery, sober and happier than ever. He wanted to change the way our society treats addiction because he knew how difficult it was to achieve sobriety and maintain it. During his last year of life, Max was healthy, bright, full of energy and drive, and eager to build his life. However, in the month before he died, he sustained major injuries in a car accident, and after surgery he turned to medications for his continued severe pain and ultimately suffered a drug relapse on the day of his death.
He will be remembered most for his sweet and gentle manner, his impeccable style, his carefully arranged book collection, his musical talent, his boldness, creativity, dedication, intensity of spirit, and his beautiful easy smile. He will be profoundly missed.
Max's services will begin with a wake at MILES FUNERAL HOME, 1158 MAIN STREET, HOLDEN on Thursday, January 5th, from 4 until 7 pm, followed by his funeral at the First Church in Sterling, 6 Meetinghouse Hill Road, Sterling at 11:00 am on Friday and burial at the Hillside Cemetery in Sterling. The family will host a gathering in Max's memory after his interment.
In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be made in Max's memory to the "Maxwell F. Baker Foundation for Addiction Recovery," c/o Santander Bank, 164 Reservoir Street, Holden, Massachusetts 01520.
Published in Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Dec. 31, 2016 to Jan. 3, 2017.