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Bob Baker, motor vehicle dealership proprietor, philanthropist, dies at 89

Although his father was a employed car wholesaler and at the very least two of his uncles were automotive salesmen, Bob Baker experienced no intention of acquiring into the car small business.

A devout Catholic who attended spiritual educational institutions as a child, Baker required to be a priest.

For the record:

8:15 a.m. Sept. 8, 2021This tale corrects the spelling of Bob Baker’s mother’s name to Dory. Also, Baker owner 25 car dealerships during his job.

Rather, potentially by way of a mix of destiny and will need, he would find achievements in possessing far more than 25 car dealerships through the region in the course of a job that spanned 60 yrs. He also would anguish around a lethal crash involving a single of his motor vehicles that killed a family and led to a all over the world recall.

Baker, 89, died at his Rancho Santa Fe dwelling on Sunday. His son, Chris, the youngest of 5 Baker small children, stated the result in was a combination of dementia, lymphoma and renal failure.

“Bob was not difficult,” explained his close friend and previous business lover Dave Ezratty, who now life in Idaho. “He taught you the simple matters: ‘Watch the pennies and nickels and that will get you the dollars.’ Bob didn’t hand out anything at all he gave men and women opportunity. If they listened to him, they would be successful. He wanted most people to thrive, even his rivals.”

Baker was born on Oct. 1, 1931, at Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles, the oldest of 4 kids of Halem and Dory (Peterson) Baker. He grew up in Los Angeles all through the Despair and as an 8-12 months-previous, would buy publications for 8 cents and then provide them for a dime to enable assistance the family. He afterwards took on a newspaper route.

When he was 10, Baker’s mom and dad divorced and he invested the relaxation of his childhood in foster properties, boarding houses and on the streets, Chris Baker claimed.

Chris Baker stated that when his father “learned that sons from divorced families weren’t authorized to enter the priesthood,” Baker enlisted in the U.S. Military in 1951 to combat in the Korean War. He was 19. Two several years afterwards, he attained the entrance strains.

“He fought in the battle for Outpost Harry, a strategic position on a very small hilltop on the direct route to the South Korean capital of Seoul,” Chris Baker stated. “The embattled troops were being advised to ‘hold at all expenditures.’”

Baker afterwards created a 2010 documentary, “Hold at All Expenditures: The Tale of the Battle of Outpost Harry,” to commemorate people included in the struggle. In 2016, Baker donated $250,000 for a 30-foot-tall bell tower at Miramar National Cemetery in memory of his Korean War comrades.

Baker participated in far more than two dozen “harrowing night time patrols,” Chris Baker reported, and the moment volunteered “to go on a mission from which he was told he would not return.”

Monsignor Dan Dillabough from the University of San Diego realized Baker for 25 years. Dillabough explained that Baker explained to him that as he organized for that mission, he prayed and built a pact that if he survived, he would return to California, marry his wartime pen pal, Sherrill King, elevate a family, turn into successful and provide God.

But in advance of Baker was able to total that mission, Chinese troopers attacked two several hours earlier than expected.

“He experienced to retreat by way of the minefields, foremost two squads safely back again to the key bunker at Outpost Harry,” Chris Baker recalled. “He was on the front traces right up until a truce was declared and his Army company finished in December 1953.”

Baker was awarded two Bronze Star medals, amongst others, for his steps in overcome.

Invoice Barber, who said he satisfied Baker at the Burbank airport when they had been equally heading for their Military depth in Korea, mentioned it was challenging for him to chat about the decline of his friend of just about 70 several years. He reminisced about fishing trips, and attending Rams, Chargers and Padres online games with each other.

“We experienced so a lot of great instances alongside one another,” Barber said. “I must have acquired 50 vehicles from him about 60 years. We’ve been buddies for good. He was the best close friend a human being could question for. He lived a comprehensive daily life.”

When he returned from the war to California, he married King and enrolled in company classes at Woodbury Faculty in Burbank. When his wife became expecting with their to start with little one, Michael, in 1954, Baker commenced providing autos at a friend’s Ford dealership.

“(My dad) was a natural salesman with a quick and glowing smile, and he turned an immediate achievement,” Chris Baker claimed. “From product sales he was promoted into profits management and at some point tasked with functioning automobile dealerships.”

In 1965, Baker had an possibility to invest in his very own dealership in Indiana. He established and grew Bob Baker Chevrolet in Indianapolis into a success. His eldest son, Mike, started doing the job for his dad as a 15-year-aged.

Baker ultimately marketed that dealership and moved to San Diego, obtaining what was then University Ford. He steadily expanded and designed up the Bob Baker Auto Group of dealerships with brands these as Chevy, Toyota, Lexus, Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Ford, Acura, Cadillac, Nissan and Subaru. And he was guiding the catchy promoting jingle, “The Bob Baker Automobile Group, where it is so great to be pleasant.”

His money good results permitted him the capability to stay out his true passion of serving God by encouraging the local community and all those in need to have, Chris Baker said.

Baker earmarked millions of dollars in excess of the yrs to guide Catholic churches and schools, packages for armed forces veterans and underwriting for Options for Change, a nonprofit that allows get North County homeless households off the streets

Chris Megison, who heads Alternatives for Change, claimed he related with Baker on a range of levels. Megison is a previous Maritime whose father also served in Korea. The two adult males also shared an abiding faith in God.

“What seriously struck me with Bob was he so thought that his function on Earth, for the reason that of what he survived in Korea, was portion of his pact with God,” Megison reported. “And so he was carrying that pact out and making an influence on people that had been homeless. All of our discussions were being all over humanity and the very good in individuals.”

Baker was devastated when a family of 4 was killed although driving in a loaner automobile from his Lexus dealership in El Cajon in 2009. The fatalities happened when the car’s accelerator pedal grew to become stuck and the auto raced out of control.

The case been given all over the world notice in excess of unintended acceleration complications in Toyota and Lexus automobiles.

Family users of the victims — CHP Officer Mark Saylor, his spouse, daughter and brother-in-legislation — sued Baker and Toyota for wrongful demise. Nearby and federal investigations found that improperly installed floor mats in the Lexus model could trigger the gas pedal to stick.

Considering the fact that then, Toyota has recalled 10 million automobiles for repairs and has paid out far more than $1 billion in fines and lawsuits. Baker paid out an undisclosed sum to relatives of the Saylors.

“He was devastated from the incident, it was pretty agonizing for him to know what transpired to the Saylor family,” Chris Baker mentioned. “We consider the greatest lead to was defects in the manufacturing of the motor vehicle that caused unintended acceleration. The total matter made a rift in the connection amongst my father and Toyota. I assume any finger pointing to my father’s dealership was ultimately vindicated by the actuality that Toyota recalled tens of millions of vehicles for unintended acceleration.”

The previous dealership Bob Baker owned was Bob Baker Toyota. He marketed that dealership and thoroughly retired in April 2016. He had earlier bought the stability of his remaining dealership ownerships to his son, Chris, in 2014. Chris Baker acquired and expanded his Carlsbad areas and is continuing the Bob Baker Automobile Team legacy. Chris Baker’s son, Cobi, 27, is also planning to go on in the relatives automobile company.

Baker was preceded in dying by his spouse, Sherrill his brothers, Dick and Ron Baker and his sister, Peggy Stewart. He is survived by his children and their family members Mike, Bridget and Austin Baker Elizabeth (Baker) and Robert Treloar Theresa (Baker), Sean and Eric Hertel Mary (Baker) and Mike Ross and Chris, Maria, Bryan, Cobi and Emily Baker. He is also survived by numerous half siblings.

Expert services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Sept. 18 at St. Therese of Carmel Catholic Church in Carmel Valley. Baker’s ashes will be break up, to be interned beside his wife’s stays at the Church of the Nativity in Rancho Santa Fe, and at the Miramar cemetery.

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