WATERTOWN, NY — Kenneth F. Baker, 94, of Schley Drive, Watertown, passed away at his home on August 25, 2020, under the care of his family and Hospice of Jefferson County.
Born May 13, 1926, in Chaumont, a son of Roy and Elsie (Heath) Baker, he attended Watertown High School.
He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1944. He was honorably discharged in 1946, and returned home to earn his high school degree from Immaculate Heart Academy. He later went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Empire State College.
On June 14, 1947, he married Wilma J. Gregory at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church with Rev. Benoit Dostie officiating. They were married for 65 years. Mrs. Baker died on July 27, 2012.
As a young adult, Mr. Baker delivered groceries for the A&P Grocery Store. He began his long career with the Jefferson County Probation Department in 1954. After serving as a Probation Officer for eight years, he was appointed to Director of the Department in 1962. He served as Director for twenty-nine years. He retired in 1991 after serving a total of thirty-seven years with the Department. In June, 2017 the Department paid tribute to Mr. Baker for his many years of service while commemorating their 106th anniversary.
Mr. Baker also served on the Board of Directors for Credo, the Watertown Golf Club, and the Children’s Home of Jefferson County. In 2015 he was one of the recipients of the Children’s Home Committed Community Partners Award. His service to the Children’s Home totaled four decades. He was also active in the Republican Party, a life member of the American Legion Post 61, and a life member of the Northside Improvement League.
Mr. Baker was a communicant at St. Patrick’s Church in Watertown and rarely missed his duty as an usher at the four o’clock mass on Saturdays!
Ken was very active in local youth sports. He coached and umpired for local baseball teams. He and John Marra assisted in building the Rand Little League Field and received the first Allie Coppola Award for being a dedicated sports volunteer. He refereed high school basketball for twenty-five years earning a gold whistle for his many years of service. He also volunteered as an IHC golf coach.
Ken was an avid sports fan and loved his New York Yankees, New England Patriots and Syracuse Orange. Locally, he enjoyed watching the South Jefferson Boys’ Basketball team which is coached by his Grandson, Kyle.
Ken’s first priority was his family. He was affectionately known as “Pazzie” to his grandkids/great grandkids. He especially looked forward to family celebrations. He will always be remembered for his signature red sweater at Christmas!
Surviving are a daughter, Claudia (Roger) Draper; a son Shawn, (JoAnn) Baker, all of Watertown; five grandchildren, Kenneth Draper, Toby and Jennifer Draper, Katey and Ben Secor, Kelly and Dan Daugherty, and Kyle and Santina Baker; 10 great-grandchildren, Jillian, Andrew, Brian, Claire, Ellie, Caitlin, Brendan, Alessandra, Siena, Kennedy; and several close nieces and nephews.
A brother, Francis Baker, died before him. His lifelong friend, Tom Dulmage, also passed away earlier this year.
The funeral Mass will be said 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, at Holy Family Church. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic seating will be limited and masks are required. Arrangements are with D.L. Calarco Funeral Home, Inc.
Contributions in Mr. Baker’s memory may be made to the Children’s Home of Jefferson County, 1704 State Street, Watertown, NY 13601, St. Patrick’s Church, 123 South Massey Street, Watertown, NY 13601, Sisters of the Precious Blood, 400 Pratt Street, Watertown, NY 13601 or Hospice of Jefferson County, 1398 Gotham Street Road, Watertown, NY 13601.
Online condolences may be made to www.dlcalarco.com