Robert W. Baker, 82, pilot, executive

March 28, 2006

Robert W. Baker, a decorated World War II bomber pilot and retired Baltimore dairy executive, died of respiratory failure Thursday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Lutherville resident was 82.

Mr. Baker was born in Baltimore and raised in Forest Park.

After graduating from Forest Park High School in 1942, he began his college studies at Western Maryland College.

In 1943, he left to enlist in the Army Air Forces. He was trained as a pilot on B-17 Flying Fortress bombers and was sent to England, where he joined the 8th Air Force.

From June 1944 to January 1945, Mr. Baker flew 35 missions, including dangerous raids on Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig, Germany.

On one mission, his plane was hit by German anti-aircraft fire and forced to land in Belgium.

"They landed in friendly territory and after hitch-hiking on convoys, he and his crew were able to get to the English Channel and returned to England by boat," said a son, Robert W. Baker Jr. of Park City, Utah.

On another occasion, Mr. Baker and his B-17 were saved from disaster when American fighters shot down three attacking German fighters.

Mr. Baker, who attained the rank of lieutenant, was awarded the Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, for "courage, coolness and skill" during combat.

After returning to Baltimore, he joined the Maryland National Guard and served as a flight instructor with its 104th Fighter Squadron.

He earned a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1948 and then went to work for Royal Dunloggin Dairy in Baltimore, where he rose to executive vice president. After the business was taken over by Cloverland Dairy, he remained in his post until retiring in 1994.

Mr. Baker enjoyed hunting ducks and geese on the Eastern Shore, as well as fishing and sailing out of Annapolis. He also liked dancing and listening to jazz. He was a member of the Baltimore Country Club, where he liked to golf.

Mr. Baker was a member of Second Presbyterian Church.

Services were Saturday.

Also surviving are two other sons, Steven C. Baker of Towson and William W. Baker of Ruxton, and four grandchildren. His wife of 29 years, the former Georgeann Harris, died in 2002. An earlier marriage to the former Jeanne Patton ended in divorce.

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