May 25, 1927 - July 18, 2019
Major General Floyd Wilmer Baker, M.D., died on July 18, 2019at the age of 92. He was a physician who retired from the Army Medical Corps in 1986 after 41 years of military service, which included 34 years of active duty during three wartime periods ‒ WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
The early days of Baker's boyhood were spent on a farm in Colorado, which gave him a chance to learn that hard work was not to be feared but that it was rewarding. He learned from his parents and the farm experience the value of orderliness and an appreciation for both people and animals.
He loved math and sciences and received awards in those fields while a student in the Leavenworth, Kansas, public school system. In junior high school he became state champion in math and in general science. Upon graduation from high school he was awarded the Bausch & Lomb Science Award.
He graduated from Leavenworth Senior High School in 1944 on his 17th birthday, just before D-Day in Europe. He elected to go to college at the University of Kansas rather than join the military as many of his older classmates were doing; however, in March 1945 he enlisted in the Navy (as he always said, "To stay out of the Army"). He was in boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Station when the atomic bombs were dropped and war ended in the Pacific.
After he was released from active duty with the Navy he returned to college and later made the most important decision of his life ‒ to ask Darlene (Dolly) Fulk to be his bride. They were married in 1949 just prior to his entering medical school. During their 70 years of marriage, he revered her as a supporter, a helper, the person who raised his children, a lover, a friend, and a companion.
Upon graduation from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1953 he planned to serve a one-year internship in the Army and then enter general practice in a small Kansas town; however, he fell in love with surgery and elected to take surgical training in the Army first.
His second year of surgical residency at Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Denver, Colorado, coincided with the pioneer days of open-heart surgery. He was the operator of the artificial heart lung machine for the first cases done in the Army using such equipment. For that contribution he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, which meant more to him than any of the many other awards he received, including the Distinguished Service Medal.
By the time he was eligible to leave active duty he had found that he really enjoyed what he was doing and that the Army was a good place to practice high quality medicine without having to charge the patient. If he were to stay in the Army, he felt he should experience what soldiers do; hence, he spent two years as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division in the positions of Division Surgeon and Commander of the 326th Medical Battalion. He served a total of 16 years in command positions, including those of hospitals in Wuerzburg, Germany, and Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Brooke and Letterman Army Medical Centers; Seventh Medical Command in Germany; and the U.S. Army Health Services Command.
He was certified by the American Board of Surgery and proved that he was an excellent surgeon during the years he practiced clinical surgery; however, he eventually felt that his talents were best used in concentrating on the provision of medical care to the total Army community, rather than to individual patients, and spent the last half of his career in executive medicine positions. He was honored in the civilian community in 1982 by being selected as a charter Fellow of the American College of Physician Executives.
The positions he held placed considerable power within his control; however, he did not feel compelled to have or to wield power and was exceedingly careful to not misuse it. He was acutely aware of the awesome responsibility he held in the potential to influence the lives of others, either directly or indirectly, through his actions and example. Subordinates praised him for his demonstration of integrity in the performance of his duties.
Baker's overriding concerns were treating everyone with dignity, class, and respect; providing high quality patient care; and encouraging and stimulating the individuals of his command to recognize their unlimited potential and to be innovative and strive for excellence in their work. He preferred to have a subordinate receive credit rather than to have it himself.
He enjoyed the outdoors and physical challenges, which led him to the tops of many mountains, into the wilderness areas of the west and Alaska, and to the running of two dozen marathons after he reached the age of 52. His most memorable and enjoyable marathons were the first (where he and his wife, Dolly, also running her first, ran with him) and the last, which was from Manitou Springs to the top of Pikes Peak and back.
He is survived by his wife, Darlene (Dolly), by three daughters ‒ Linda Baker; Diane van Hoff and her husband, Jon; Barbara Easter and her husband, Dr. J. Hamilton Easter, II; eight grandchildren ‒ Jennifer, Andrew, Jamie, Annamarie, Steven, Jeffrey, Christina, and Katie; four great-grandchildren ‒ Dane, Jude, Hope, and Henry; a sister, Lucile Hudson; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. at the Main Post Chapel, Fort Sam Houston with interment to follow at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers he requested that contributions be made to either the Army Medical Department Museum Foundation, Inc., or the Northeast Senior Assistance (San Antonio).
You are invited to sign the guestbook at www.porterloring.com
Arrangements are with Porter Loring Mortuaries, 1101 McCullough, San Antonio, Texas Phone: 210-227-8221