Daniel 'Dr. Dan' Baker, pharmacist

May 08, 1994|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Sun Staff Writer

Richard Baker realized the love and trust that residents

around Monument and Gay streets had for his pharmacist father when he saw a man walk into the store one day with a knife in his head.

"The world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital was right up the street, but this guy came to my dad, yelling: 'Dr. Dan, Dr. Dan -- I've been stabbed!' " Mr. Baker recalled. "My father pulled the knife out, bandaged him up, and sent him on his way with no police report and no charge.

"The people in that neighborhood loved my father. He was their friend, their counselor and their confidant."

"Dr. Dan" was Daniel S. Baker, a longtime druggist at Friedman's Pharmacy, which burned during Baltimore riots in 1968.

Mr. Baker, who was 77, died of cancer Friday at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The son of an immigrant Jewish shoemaker from Russia, Dan Baker grew up on Franklin Street downtown. As a youngster, he loved baseball and especially boxing and found a way to see bouts at the 5th Regiment Armory free by carrying in equipment bags for such fighters as Sylvan Bass.

He graduated from City College in 1934, then worked his way through the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, earning his tuition any way he could. He graduated in 1939.

His career was interrupted by World War II. He volunteered for the Army in 1941 and became a staff sergeant in Europe. He won a Bronze Star for his service during the liberation of France.

After his discharge in 1945, he began his association with Friedman's, where he put in long hours.

"It was more sadness than anger when the store burned," said Richard Baker, a social worker who attributes his vocation to years of watching his father help people. "My father's two biggest frustrations were that he never became a doctor and that the man who owned Friedman's never left the store to him like he promised he would."

In 1951, he married Ethel Lillien, an interior designer. The couple lived for many years on Shelleydale Road in Mount Washington. Mrs. Baker died in 1990.

After the war, Mr. Baker dated a woman named Sally Litvin. When Sally Litvin Bormel, his old sweetheart, heard that Mr. Baker had lost his wife, she called him to say that she had been widowed. They resumed dating after 40 years, going to symphony concerts, taking trips and having dinner.

After Friedman's closed, Mr. Baker went to work at various Drug Fair stores around town. He retired in 1989 at age 72.

"I don't think there's anyone in this world who is his enemy," his son said.

Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Sol Levinson & Brothers funeral home, 6010 Reisterstown Road.

In addition to his son, Mr. Baker is survived by a sister, Trudy Holober of Delray Beach, Fla.; and two grandchildren.

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