Not bad for 100
- Lisa K. Anderson
- Sandy Post - News
Centenarian from Boring celebrates with family spanning five generations
Before his birthday party Saturday, Roy Baker looked in the mirror and said, 'Not bad for 104.'
Baker was joking. He became a centenarian June 7, but he meant 100 years and four days.
Spanning five generations, Baker's family gathered with friends in the backyard of his great-grandson's house for the party.
Perched in the sun wearing his Navy cap and blue windbreaker, Baker was the man of the hour in Boring on Saturday.
Though Baker never had children of his own, he helped raise his wife's granddaughter, JoAnne Edmonds. Baker is affectionately known by JoAnne and the following three generations of grandchildren as 'Grampy.'
Baker was born June 7, 1911, in Morris, Okla., to William Franklin Baker and Nora Sophia Thompson.
He was 3 when World War I began, 18 during the 1929 stock market crash and 21 during the prohibition of alcohol.
One of 10 children, Baker moved to the Eugene area as a young teenager and attended school through eighth grade.
As a carpenter and logger in Veneta and Eugene, Baker began his life work of building homes. He met Josephine Georgia Buoy logging and married her in Grants Pass on Aug. 22, 1937. Homes at that time cost an average of $4,100, and a gallon of gas was 10 cents.
The couple lived throughout Oregon before moving to the Gresham area in 1950.
Between 1942 and 1945, Baker served in the 54th Construction Batallion of the Navy, spending time in the Philippines and North Africa.
Baker said he's 'most grateful for Jesus Christ' in his life and 'most proud of everybody in his family.'
Rob Edmonds, Baker's great-grandson and the family historian, remembered fondly the time Baker helped him with his high school FFA project of raising pigs.
'He's really the only grandfather I've know,' Edmonds said.
In 2003, Edmonds sat with Baker and recorded family stories on tape recorder, which is now transcribed as a family document.
'Time really passes by,' Baker told Edmonds on the recording. 'The older you get the faster it goes.'
After Josephine died and he remarried, Baker lived in Selah, Wash.
In 2003, after his second wife died, his family brought him back to JoAnne's home in Boring, which is across the street from her son Rob's home. He has stayed there since 2003 with assistance from two caregivers and family.
'He makes me laugh,' said Chelsea Belcher, one of the caregivers. 'He is constantly worried about others.'
Baker is known in his family and among his community members for the bird houses he has created, his worship leading in the church, his love of rocks, and his gardening. During difficult economic times, Baker's friends remember how generous he was in sharing produce.
His grandchildren remember Baker carrying Double Mint gum, which he has always split in half, offering one piece to the grandchild and one piece to himself.
Ted McGillis, a friend who has known Baker for more than 50 years through the Church of God, called Baker 'an excellent Christian man.'
As he prepared to leave the party Saturday, McGillis kneeled over Baker's wheelchair and offered a hug, thanking Baker for being a wonderful friend through the years.