Spooner Health
Spooner Health

In Memory of Larry L. Baker

December 24, 1950 - January 28, 2023

Larry Lee Baker, age 72, of Hayward, passed away Saturday, January 28, 2023, at CentraCare-St. Cloud Hospital.

Larry was born on Christmas Eve, 1950, in Hillsdale, Michigan to Alonzo and Grace Baker.

Grace was Siberian Yupik from St. Lawrence Island between Russia and Alaska. She gave Larry his Yupik name. He proudly identified as an Alaskan Native and incorporated those cultural values in everything he did. Larry grew up in Jonesville, Michigan, and spent much of his youth developing his strong work ethic bailing hay and working with horses on local farms and learning carpentry skills.

He graduated from high school in 1969 and enlisted in the United States Air Force. Larry was in the military from 1969-1973 during the Vietnam War. Although Larry was not drafted, he felt it was his duty to serve his county as a tribute to his father, Alonzo, who had also served.

Following his time in the Air Force, Larry became a Spartan at Michigan State University where he graduated with a degree in Forestry. He then completed an accelerated track, Master’s Level degree in Forestry. He was a quick learner and intense studier of all topics.

Larry’s forestry career led him to many locations throughout the Midwest. Eventually he moved to Glidden, WI, as an Assistant District Ranger. In this role, Larry led and coordinated countless projects. He was a vital part of the team that re-introduced elk to Northern Wisconsin. With the elk project, Larry acted as liaison between the LCO Tribe and the US Forest Service. This alliance was critical for the success of the project. If you have seen an elk locally, Larry helped to make that happen.

In the mid-80’s, Larry fell head over heels for Deborah Baker. They were married in 1987. Everyone who knew Deb and Larry could attest to the strength of their relationship. They were truly a match for each other, using humor and teamwork for 35 amazing years.

After 25 years of federal service, Larry retired from the US Forest Service. He moved to the LCO/Hayward area and accepted a position as instructor at the LCO College where he taught Natural Resources classes for 18 years. Larry was a gifted teacher. Whether he was chaperoning a trip to Pipestone, MN, teaching how to protect, harvest and process wild rice, or gathering sap and boiling to syrup, Larry loved watching his students achieve. He was endlessly devoted to fostering the most well-rounded learning environment possible.

Although he reached the age of retirement and no longer had formal students, Larry never stopped learning and teaching. He was a regular volunteer at his grandchildren’s school, Northern Waters Environmental School. He was always ready to offer suggestions and support for anyone trying to repair or build anything. If there was a particular task that challenged him, he would watch YouTube videos for guidance.

He especially loved the people at the Hayward Rod and Gun Club archery crew, the Monday Flea Market, the Hayward Senior Center and the Rendezvous’ he attended in the area. He refurbished traditional bows, participated in black powder and muzzleloading gun events and aced the hatchet throw during his adventures. He was especially proud to have Robin Hooded an arrow.

Larry had a special relationship with his grandchildren. He undertook his role as “Pop” very seriously and spent much time encouraging his grandchildren to always be curious about the world, to treat everything on Earth with respect and to be a force for good. His pride was on display regularly. If you asked him how many grandkids he had, he would respond, “Not enough”. His grandchildren will deeply miss him. They will continue to carry forward the values he lived.

Larry was the rare person who focused almost singularly on the well-being of others. He had the qualities we all desire to possess and maintain. He was selfless, humble, compassionate, kind, and patient. He always thought about how he could make situations better for others. If you needed something, Larry was there. If you didn’t know you needed something, Larry was there. He never sought payment and declined recognition. He was a role model for us all. His passing is a great loss for our family, his friends and our community. He will be remembered.

Larry is survived by his wife Deborah; sister Millie (Howard); children Kimberly Baker, Steph (Tamilyn) Arntsen, Kris Arntsen, Kevin (Stacy) Arntsen, Steve Arntsen; grandchildren, Parker, Brady, Emma, Ben, Weston, Camden, Kaitlyn, and Jessica; and numerous We’ah, nieces and nephews, cousins, important friends, John Jones and Jerry Smith and his faithful dog and TV watching companion Hobbes. He is also survived by his many friends throughout the country and world.

Larry was proceeded in death by his parents, his son, Ryan and grandson, Justin.

A Community Service and Celebration of Larry’s life will be held at LCO Ojibwe University in the Pipe Mustache Auditorium, Friday, February 3rd from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Please join his family and friends for a meal and to share memories. Burial will be held at a later date in Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner, WI.

Last Update: Jan 31, 2023 2:49 pm CST

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