Baker, Charles William “Bill”
January 3, 2021, age 94
OAKLEY—We lost our beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather and uncle, Charles William “Bill” Baker, on Sunday, January 3, 2021.
Bill was born on August 8, 1926, in Oakley, Idaho, to Maude Elison Baker and Olin Leo Baker, joining his older sister, Bonnie (Voyce) and brother, Robert “Bob.” The family settled in Burley, Idaho, where Bill was a popular all-around student joining the baseball and basketball teams as well as being part of the school paper and some of the theatrical productions. Once Bill graduated and turned 18, he, like so many of his generation, joined the war effort by enlisting in the United States Navy. His tour of duty included landing in Japan as the war was ending, serving as a signalman on his ship. Bill was proud to be a World War II veteran.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Bill settled in Southern California and went to work for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. That would prove to be a lasting relationship as Bill stayed at Lockheed for 35-plus years retiring in 1987. Among Bill’s best memories of his time at Lockheed were working on Lockheed’s L1011 commercial jet and joining the Skunkworks during his last years at Lockheed. Bill was proud to be part of some of the innovative Skunkworks projects.
While at Lockheed, Bill met a delivery clerk, Ann Nickolich, and fell in love. Bill and Ann were married in September 1952 in Los Angeles, California. They soon settled in Reseda, buying a home on the street where a few of Bill’s high school friends later settled as well. Bill and Ann were soon joined by their first daughter, Carol, followed by a second daughter, Debra “Debbie” (Mike) Vance. During their early years of marriage, Ann worked a swing-shift job leaving Bill the duties of getting his two daughters fed, bathed and put to bed. This time spent with their dad is amongst some of Carol and Debbie’s fondest memories of their dad and their childhood. Bill was widely liked by the neighbor kids as he could often be found playing a game of baseball in the early evening. Carol and Debbie consider themselves very lucky to have grown up with a dad who was never too tired to spend time with them and encouraged them to pursue their dreams. Sadly, in 1973, Ann passed away from cancer and Bill was left widowed.
After retirement, Bill spent time with his aging parents back in Burley, Idaho, and saw them through their final illnesses. On one of these trips, some of his local friends conspired to get him back together with a lady he once dated in high school, Bonnie Fisher (nee Ross). It worked, as Bill and Bonnie began seeing one another again with Bill often traveling to Bullhead City, Ariz., to spend time with Bonnie. In February 1990, they eloped to Las Vegas and started their second chapter in life. Bill moved to Bullhead City to be with Bonnie as she finished her teaching career.
Bonnie brought four daughters, Debra (Steve) Haire, Ann (Gregg) Cuoio, Teresa (Deno) Dudenake, and Holly; and one son, Paul (Breanna) to the marriage. Bonnie’s children welcomed him into the family and their children came to look on Bill as another grandfather. When Bonnie retired, they moved to Star Valley, Wyo., where Bill had built a house prior to the marriage. In Wyoming, Bill was able to enjoy a few of his favorite hobbies, golfing and fishing; activities he enjoyed with his own father. They spent many happy years there often traveling south in their RV during the winter months. Those travels took them all over the United States visiting family and friends, which eventually led to Bill having visited all 50 states. Eventually they bought a second home in Casa Grande, Ariz., where they ultimately moved full time. Bill was widowed a second time when Bonnie passed away in April 2017.
Bill was one-of-a-kind and the most special father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He had a great sense of humor and a gift for striking up a conversation with just about anyone. His family misses him terribly but takes solace in the many good memories they have of Bill. He was lucky in his last few days to have been with his daughter, Debbie, and son-in-law, Mike, who took great care of him over the last many years. Bill leaves 16 grandchildren; 32 great-grandchildren; and nine nieces and nephews.
A viewing for family and friends will be held from 9:30 until 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 19, at Rasmussen-Wilson Funeral Home, 1350 E. 16th St., in Burley. A graveside service will follow at 11 a.m. at Gem Memorial Gardens, 2435 Overland Ave., in Burley. Military rites will be provided by the Mini-Cassia Veterans Group.
To help mitigate COVID-19, the wearing of face masks will be observed and social distancing practiced at the viewing and service.