Michael (Mike) Ray Baker, 73, of Clear Lake died peacefully at the Mayo Clinic after a brief battle with leukemia. In accordance with Mike’s wishes, he was cremated.
A Celebration of Life service will be held on Tuesday, Feb 7th, at 11:00AM at Trinity Lutheran Church, 213 North Pennsylvania Ave., Mason City, with Rev. Dan Gerrietts officiating.
A memorial visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday, February 6, 2023, at Ward Van Slyke Colonial Chapel, 310 1st Ave. North, Clear Lake. The family kindly requests attendees to wear a mask to help family and friends that are immunocompromised.
Mike was born Feb 19th, 1949, in Mason City, to Franklin Ray and Ruth Elaine (Jensen) Baker. After attending the Country Schoolhouse at Baker’s Corner through 3rd grade, he transferred to the Clear Lake public school system in town. He graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1967, and attended Luther College, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting in 1971. He met his future wife, Mary Gleason at Luther, and they were married on Dec 16th, 1972, in Clear Lake.
After college, Mike worked for an accounting firm in Minneapolis for three years, before returning to Clear Lake to farm with his father Frank. Mike and Mary became the fourth generation to operate their family farm, which had been established in 1886 by Benjamin Franklin Baker. Mike worked for several accounting firms in Mason City during his career, with over 32 years at Williams and Associates. Along with his accounting and farming careers, he served on the board of the Farmer’s Co-op Elevator for several years. Following in his father’s footsteps, he served three terms on the Clear Lake School Board, from 1994 to 2003. He continued to serve on other committees across the community, including the Clear Lake Arts Council, numerous committees at Zion Lutheran Church in Clear Lake and at Trinity Lutheran Church in Mason City.
An avid conversationalist, Mike made new friends in every aspect of his life, spreading good humor and generosity to all. For 37 years, Mike spent his August days meeting and sharing stories while selling sweet corn from the back of the pickup truck in the driveway. Leading up to and during retirement, he enjoyed all sorts of travel, from impromptu day trips with friends & family, date nights with Mary in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theater, to international adventures in Denmark, Italy, Israel, and beyond.
His passion for food grew from his penchant for hospitality, and Mike was known to relish both making and sharing a multitude of desserts. His spirit of generosity shone through in every interaction, including the staff at the Arts Center, Apple Valley Assisted Living, Hy-Vee, Fareway, Clear Lake Bank and Trust, or wherever his daily errands took him. Old and new friends often found themselves chatting with Mike over a new recipe.
Retirement brought with it time to practice his hospitality skills, as he helped his wife Mary operate a bed and breakfast at the family farm on Baker’s Corner. He found immense joy in meeting each and every guest that stayed, and often found an opportunity to share stories and a laugh around the fire pit.
He is survived by his mother, Ruth Elaine Baker of Clear Lake; his wife Mary Baker of Clear Lake; sons Jeff (Amanda) Baker of Lisbon, IA, David (Jamie Puglin) Baker of Cary, NC, Mark (Shelby Newport) Baker of Flint, MI; grandson Axel Ray Baker-Newport; his niece, Heather (John) Eidt of Detroit, MI; sister-in-law Connie Espel, of Princeton, IL; nephew Robert Espel of Princeton, IL, and Brian Espel of Chicago, IL; and many others. He was preceded in death by his father, Frank; and brother Jon.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to Trinity Lutheran Church in Mason City, the Clear Lake Public Library, and donations to your local blood bank.