Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.
Dr. O. Lee Baker, 90, formerly of Pittsburg, KS., died February 23, 2019 in Kansas City, MO of old age. Lee was born Oct. 29, 1928 to Chauncey Wilbur and Martha (Southard) Baker, and grew up on modest family farms in Missouri and Kansas. He developed a lifelong love of hunting and fishing, which put deer, elk, buffalo and many species of fresh and salt water fish on the family table.
Lee’s dream of playing professional baseball was cut short by polio, which affected his throwing arm. Instead, education became the cornerstone of his life. Lee was the first person in his immediate family to earn a college degree.
While attending Warner Pacific College in Portland, OR., he met Belledene Kole. They married in August 1949 and together raised three children. A fourth child, Steven, died shortly after birth. The family lived in Montana, Idaho and Washington, moving every few years for Lee’s work as a pastor and teacher. Eventually, he earned his Doctorate in Education from the University of Idaho/ Moscow, and taught for 25 years at Pittsburg (KS) State University.
Lee and Belledene divorced in 1976. He married Linda Sue Maynard in 1987 and they moved to Colorado Springs, CO after Lee retired. They divorced in 2007. In retirement, Lee enjoyed yard sales, traveling, playing poker and cribbage. One of Lee’s proudest accomplishments was becoming a private pilot. In his plane, call letters “Cherokee 5-8-3-3 Whiskey,” he flew to the horse races in Nebraska, football games at Kansas University, and even on a cross country trip to New Orleans.
In February 2018, escalating health issues prompted Lee to move closer to family in Kansas. He lived in the Kansas City area at the time of his death.
Lee is survived by his children Douglas (Cindy) Baker, Lawrence, KS; James Baker, Petersburg, AK; Linda (Tom) Freepons, Prosser, WA; grandchildren Danielle, Laura, Rebecca, Doug Jr., Kristi, Jamie, Hannah Joy, Andy and Mary Grace; and 8 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, 7 siblings and a grandson, Benjamin Baker. At Lee’s request, there will be no services.