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

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RANCHO SANTA FE —  Although his father was a utilised vehicle wholesaler and at the very least two of his uncles have been automotive salesmen, Bob Baker experienced no intention of getting into the auto enterprise. A devout Catholic who attended spiritual faculties as a youngster, Baker preferred to be a […]

Although his father was a utilised vehicle wholesaler and at the very least two of his uncles have been automotive salesmen, Bob Baker experienced no intention of getting into the auto enterprise.

A devout Catholic who attended spiritual faculties as a youngster, Baker preferred to be a priest.

For the document:

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

Instead, potentially by means of a mix of fate and need, he would uncover accomplishment in owning a lot more than 25 automobile dealerships all through the state through a career that spanned 60 years. He also would anguish in excess of a deadly crash involving just one of his vehicles that killed a loved ones and led to a throughout the world remember.

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

“Bob was not intricate,” said his close friend and former small business husband or wife Dave Ezratty, who now life in Idaho. “He taught you the uncomplicated things: ‘Watch the pennies and nickels and that will get you the bucks.’ Bob didn’t hand out everything he gave folks possibility. If they listened to him, they would be profitable. He preferred most people to triumph, even his opponents.”

Baker was born on Oct. 1, 1931, at Queen of Angels Healthcare facility in Los Angeles, the oldest of 4 young children of Halem and Dory (Peterson) Baker. He grew up in Los Angeles all through the Melancholy and as an 8-calendar year-aged, would acquire publications for 8 cents and then offer them for a dime to help help the family members. He later took on a newspaper route.

When he was 10, Baker’s dad and mom divorced and he expended the relaxation of his childhood in foster households, boarding residences and on the streets, Chris Baker reported.

Chris Baker reported that when his father “learned that sons from divorced families weren’t authorized to enter the priesthood,” Baker enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951 to battle in the Korean War. He was 19. Two a long time later on, he attained the front lines.

“He fought in the fight for Outpost Harry, a strategic place on a very small hilltop on the direct route to the South Korean capital of Seoul,” Chris Baker claimed. “The embattled troops were being instructed to ‘hold at all expenses.’”

Baker later on made a 2010 documentary, “Hold at All Expenses: The Story of the Fight of Outpost Harry,” to commemorate individuals concerned in the battle. 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 extra than two dozen “harrowing evening patrols,” Chris Baker stated, and when volunteered “to go on a mission from which he was instructed he would not return.”

Monsignor Dan Dillabough from the University of San Diego knew Baker for 25 yrs. Dillabough mentioned that Baker informed him that as he prepared for that mission, he prayed and created a pact that if he survived, he would return to California, marry his wartime pen pal, Sherrill King, raise a family, develop into thriving and serve God.

But in advance of Baker was capable to finish that mission, Chinese troopers attacked two hrs earlier than envisioned.

“He had to retreat by the minefields, major two squads safely and securely again to the most important bunker at Outpost Harry,” Chris Baker recalled. “He was on the front lines until eventually a truce was declared and his Military company finished in December 1953.”

Baker was awarded two Bronze Star medals, amid some others, for his steps in fight.

Bill Barber, who stated he satisfied Baker at the Burbank airport when they ended up each heading for their Army detail in Korea, reported it was hard for him to speak about the reduction of his close friend of virtually 70 decades. He reminisced about fishing trips, and attending Rams, Chargers and Padres games together.

“We had so numerous superb instances together,” Barber said. “I ought to have bought 50 automobiles from him about 60 a long time. We’ve been buddies permanently. He was the ideal close friend a human being could check with for. He lived a whole life.”

When he returned from the war to California, he married King and enrolled in organization courses at Woodbury Faculty in Burbank. When his spouse turned pregnant with their initially boy or girl, Michael, in 1954, Baker began offering cars at a friend’s Ford dealership.

“(My dad) was a natural salesman with a quick and glowing smile, and he turned an prompt results,” Chris Baker reported. “From sales he was promoted into income management and at some point tasked with jogging vehicle dealerships.”

In 1965, Baker experienced an chance to obtain his possess dealership in Indiana. He proven and grew Bob Baker Chevrolet in Indianapolis into a accomplishment. His eldest son, Mike, started working for his father as a 15-12 months-outdated.

Baker ultimately bought that dealership and moved to San Diego, getting what was then University Ford. He steadily expanded and crafted up the Bob Baker Car Team of dealerships with models these 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 Auto Group, where it is so wonderful to be pleasant.”

His monetary good results allowed him the ability to are living out his genuine passion of serving God by supporting the group and individuals in want, Chris Baker claimed.

Baker earmarked hundreds of thousands of pounds in excess of the many years to help Catholic church buildings and educational facilities, courses for armed forces veterans and underwriting for Answers for Modify, a nonprofit that assists get North County homeless people off the streets

Chris Megison, who heads Options for Improve, said he related with Baker on a quantity of degrees. Megison is a former Maritime whose father also served in Korea. The two guys also shared an abiding faith in God.

“What actually struck me with Bob was he so thought that his objective on Earth, since of what he survived in Korea, was component of his pact with God,” Megison stated. “And so he was carrying that pact out and earning an influence on family members that had been homeless. All of our conversations have been all-around humanity and the superior in individuals.”

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

The scenario gained throughout the world attention in excess of unintended acceleration difficulties in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Spouse and children customers of the victims — CHP Officer Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law — sued Baker and Toyota for wrongful loss of life. Nearby and federal investigations uncovered that improperly put in ground mats in the Lexus design could trigger the fuel pedal to adhere.

Considering the fact that then, Toyota has recalled 10 million cars and trucks for repairs and has paid out extra than $1 billion in fines and lawsuits. Baker compensated an undisclosed sum to kinfolk of the Saylors.

“He was devastated from the incident, it was really distressing for him to know what transpired to the Saylor spouse and children,” Chris Baker explained. “We consider the top induce was flaws in the producing of the auto that triggered unintended acceleration. The total matter established a rift in the relationship involving my father and Toyota. I consider any finger pointing to my father’s dealership was ultimately vindicated by the reality that Toyota recalled hundreds of thousands of vehicles for unintended acceleration.”

The previous dealership Bob Baker owned was Bob Baker Toyota. He bought that dealership and absolutely retired in April 2016. He experienced beforehand sold the balance of his remaining dealership ownerships to his son, Chris, in 2014. Chris Baker ordered and expanded his Carlsbad spots and is continuing the Bob Baker Auto Group legacy. Chris Baker’s son, Cobi, 27, is also arranging to carry on in the family members automobile small business.

Baker was preceded in loss of life by his spouse, Sherrill his brothers, Dick and Ron Baker and his sister, Peggy Stewart. He is survived by his young children and their people 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 numerous 50 % siblings.

Products and services 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 stays at the Church of the Nativity in Rancho Santa Fe, and at the Miramar cemetery.

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