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Bob Baker, automobile dealership owner, philanthropist, dies at 89

Despite the fact that his father was a utilised auto wholesaler and at the very least two of his uncles had been automotive salesmen, Bob Baker had no intention of having into the car or truck enterprise.

A devout Catholic who attended religious universities as a child, Baker required to be a priest.

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8:15 a.m. Sept. 8, 2021This story corrects the spelling of Bob Baker’s mother’s identify to Dory. Also, Baker owner 25 auto dealerships all through his profession.

As an alternative, maybe through a combination of fate and need, he would come across results in possessing extra than 25 car or truck dealerships all over the nation for the duration of a profession that spanned 60 several years. He also would anguish over a lethal crash involving a person of his motor vehicles that killed a family members and led to a globally remember.

Baker, 89, died at his Rancho Santa Fe household on Sunday. His son, Chris, the youngest of 5 Baker youngsters, stated the trigger was a mixture of dementia, lymphoma and renal failure.

“Bob was not complicated,” mentioned his close friend and previous business enterprise companion Dave Ezratty, who now life in Idaho. “He taught you the basic points: ‘Watch the pennies and nickels and that will get you the bucks.’ Bob did not hand out anything he gave men and women possibility. If they listened to him, they would be successful. He desired everybody to triumph, even his competition.”

Baker was born on Oct. 1, 1931, at Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles, the oldest of four youngsters of Halem and Dory (Peterson) Baker. He grew up in Los Angeles throughout the Melancholy and as an 8-calendar year-outdated, would acquire journals for 8 cents and then market them for a dime to assist assistance the household. He later on took on a newspaper route.

When he was 10, Baker’s mothers and fathers divorced and he spent the relaxation of his childhood in foster properties, boarding homes and on the streets, Chris Baker explained.

Chris Baker explained that when his father “learned that sons from divorced families weren’t permitted to enter the priesthood,” Baker enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951 to combat in the Korean War. He was 19. Two several years later on, he attained the entrance traces.

“He fought in the struggle for Outpost Harry, a strategic position on a tiny hilltop on the direct route to the South Korean cash of Seoul,” Chris Baker stated. “The embattled troops were instructed to ‘hold at all charges.’”

Baker later made a 2010 documentary, “Hold at All Fees: The Story of the Struggle of Outpost Harry,” to commemorate people concerned in the fight. In 2016, Baker donated $250,000 for a 30-foot-tall bell tower at Miramar Nationwide Cemetery in memory of his Korean War comrades.

Baker participated in much more than two dozen “harrowing night time patrols,” Chris Baker said, and when volunteered “to go on a mission from which he was informed he would not return.”

Monsignor Dan Dillabough from the University of San Diego understood Baker for 25 years. Dillabough said that Baker instructed him that as he prepared for that mission, he prayed and produced a pact that if he survived, he would return to California, marry his wartime pen pal, Sherrill King, increase a loved ones, develop into prosperous and serve God.

But just before Baker was equipped to entire that mission, Chinese soldiers attacked two hrs before than anticipated.

“He experienced to retreat by means of the minefields, leading two squads securely back to the main bunker at Outpost Harry,” Chris Baker recalled. “He was on the front traces till a truce was declared and his Army provider finished in December 1953.”

Baker was awarded two Bronze Star medals, between many others, for his actions in overcome.

Bill Barber, who stated he achieved Baker at the Burbank airport when they had been both of those heading for their Army detail in Korea, reported it was hard for him to talk about the reduction of his buddy of almost 70 several years. He reminisced about fishing trips, and attending Rams, Chargers and Padres games jointly.

“We had so lots of amazing times jointly,” Barber reported. “I will have to have acquired 50 cars and trucks from him around 60 decades. We’ve been mates eternally. He was the very best close friend a individual could talk to for. He lived a complete life.”

When he returned from the war to California, he married King and enrolled in business classes at Woodbury School in Burbank. When his spouse became pregnant with their first kid, Michael, in 1954, Baker began selling autos at a friend’s Ford dealership.

“(My father) was a normal salesman with a quick and glowing smile, and he turned an fast achievement,” Chris Baker said. “From income he was promoted into product sales management and inevitably tasked with operating automobile dealerships.”

In 1965, Baker experienced an option to get his possess dealership in Indiana. He recognized and grew Bob Baker Chevrolet in Indianapolis into a achievements. His eldest son, Mike, started off working for his dad as a 15-year-previous.

Baker finally marketed that dealership and moved to San Diego, getting what was then University Ford. He steadily expanded and built up the Bob Baker Automobile Group of dealerships with brands these kinds of as Chevy, Toyota, Lexus, Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Ford, Acura, Cadillac, Nissan and Subaru. And he was at the rear of the catchy promoting jingle, “The Bob Baker Automobile Group, wherever it is so awesome to be wonderful.”

His economical achievements allowed him the means to are living out his correct enthusiasm of serving God by encouraging the neighborhood and those in require, Chris Baker said.

Baker earmarked millions of bucks above the many years to aid Catholic churches and educational facilities, programs for armed forces veterans and underwriting for Methods for Transform, a nonprofit that assists get North County homeless families off the streets

Chris Megison, who heads Options for Change, explained he connected with Baker on a variety of amounts. Megison is a previous Marine whose father also served in Korea. The two men also shared an abiding religion in God.

“What truly struck me with Bob was he so believed that his goal on Earth, since of what he survived in Korea, was component of his pact with God,” Megison said. “And so he was carrying that pact out and making an effects on family members that ended up homeless. All of our conversations have been about humanity and the fantastic in people today.”

Baker was devastated when a family of 4 was killed when using in a loaner car from his Lexus dealership in El Cajon in 2009. The fatalities occurred when the car’s accelerator pedal grew to become trapped and the car raced out of command.

The situation acquired throughout the world notice about unintended acceleration troubles in Toyota and Lexus cars.

Family customers of the victims — CHP Officer Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-legislation — sued Baker and Toyota for wrongful demise. Regional and federal investigations discovered that improperly mounted flooring mats in the Lexus product could cause the fuel pedal to stick.

Given that then, Toyota has recalled 10 million automobiles for repairs and has compensated a lot more than $1 billion in fines and lawsuits. Baker paid out an undisclosed sum to family members of the Saylors.

“He was devastated from the incident, it was incredibly agonizing for him to know what happened to the Saylor spouse and children,” Chris Baker stated. “We imagine the top lead to was problems in the production of the car that prompted unintended acceleration. The whole matter created a rift in the relationship amongst my father and Toyota. I assume any finger pointing to my father’s dealership was in the end vindicated by the fact that Toyota recalled hundreds of thousands of cars for unintended acceleration.”

The very last dealership Bob Baker owned was Bob Baker Toyota. He marketed that dealership and completely retired in April 2016. He had beforehand offered the harmony of his remaining dealership ownerships to his son, Chris, in 2014. Chris Baker procured and expanded his Carlsbad areas and is continuing the Bob Baker Car Team legacy. Chris Baker’s son, Cobi, 27, is also preparing to go on in the family members vehicle organization.

Baker was preceded in demise by his spouse, Sherrill his brothers, Dick and Ron Baker and his sister, Peggy Stewart. He is survived by his small children and their family members Mike, Bridget and Austin Baker Elizabeth (Baker) and Robert Treloar Theresa (Baker), Sean and Eric Hertel Mary (Baker) and Mike Ross and Chris, Maria, Bryan, Cobi and Emily Baker. He is also survived by several 50 percent siblings.

Solutions will be held at 10:30 a.m., Sept. 18 at St. Therese of Carmel Catholic Church in Carmel Valley. Baker’s ashes will be split, to be interned beside his wife’s continues to be at the Church of the Nativity in Rancho Santa Fe, and at the Miramar cemetery.