Lawrence Lee Baker, 50, for 2 decades dedicated life to helping young people

November 12, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

When local youths rang the doorbell of Lawrence Lee Baker's Woodlawn home, chances are they weren't looking for one of his five sons. "Mr. Bake" would always come out and play.

Mr. Baker, 50, who died Saturday at Northwest Hospital Center in Randallstown of a heart attack, was a friend and colleague to area teen-agers for nearly two decades, offering friendship and sports activities as an option to idleness.

Mr. Baker made himself available to youths not only because he loved children, but because he had a lot of youngster in him.

"He was just a big kid himself," said his wife, the former Mary Staton, whom he married in 1969. "He'd be out there playing and teasing with all of the rest of the boys."

Mr. Baker often would load youths into his car and take them to ball fields or recreation centers, where he would play basketball and football with them. He also would invite youths into his house to watch televised sports.

Mr. Baker often would shoot the breeze with the teens, joking and horseplaying on their level. And at 6 feet 7, he probably was the biggest kid.

"He just wanted to see kids grow strong and be proud of themselves," said Kevin Armstrong, a nephew whom Mr. Baker coached and counseled. "He was always so concerned about all of the kids in the neighborhood."

Raised in Cherry Hill, Mr. Baker graduated from Douglass High School in 1964 and attended Catonsville Community College and the former Baltimore Junior College. He graduated from RETS Electronics Schools in the 1960s.

He worked at Hutzler's department store downtown after high school, and from 1966 to 1975 worked for a credit card company. From 1975 to 1981, he was a circulation manager at The Sun and held a similar position from 1981 to 1985 at the News American.

He worked in juvenile services for the state from 1985 until 1991, while holding a part-time security job at Koons Ford in Woodlawn. He was employed at the car dealership at his death.

Mr. Baker was a member of Prince Hall Masons. He had an extensive collection of jazz records and was a boxing fan. He had predicted correctly that Evander Holyfield would beat Mike Tyson on Saturday.

"But he died that morning and never saw it," his wife said. "He knew what he was talking about in boxing. He told all of the kids that he [Holyfield] was going to win. He was a Peter Pan. He was forever young."

Services will be at noon Thursday at Union Baptist Church, 1912 Druid Hill Ave.

Other survivors include five sons, Walter Alexander Baker of Baltimore, Lawrence Baker Jr., Jesse J. Baker, Jeffrey D. Baker and Jason R. Baker, all of Woodlawn; a brother, Donald Alexander Baker of Baltimore; three sisters, Ruth St. Thomas, Evelyn Wallace and Blanche Baker, all of Baltimore; and a granddaughter, Kayla Baker of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 11/12/96

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