Longtime Marietta business and civic leader W. Norman Baker, part of longtime Marietta business Baker & Baker Jewelers, died Wednesday at age 89.
Baker was born in Marietta in 1921, and in his early 20s joined his family business, Baker & Baker Jewelers, which dates back to 1866, when his father, Walter A. Baker, and cousin Henry H. Baker purchased a downtown jewelery store. "Norm" Baker eventually took ownership of the business and continued there for more than 50 years, even after transferring ownership to his long-time apprentice.
Over the years, Baker was active in many area business and service groups, including Rotary of Marietta, the Washington County Historical Society, the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce and the Marietta Shrine Club.
Joe Baker, one of Baker's three children, said he will miss his father's personality, sincerity and song. He said his father would sing at any chance.
"The priorities in his life were his family, not just his parents, but his children and grandchildren and especially his wife," Joe Baker said. "He was also dedicated to his business and promoting the community. He really tried to be an active part of the community and he wanted it to prosper and grow."
Baker's wife of nearly 60 years, Gertrude, died in 2004. Shortly after her death, Norm moved to The Pines at Glenwood Retirement Community.
Joe Baker said his father's health had been declining for the past few months.
"Really, this was just complications of old age," he said.
Through his service work, Baker led projects to install historic markers throughout Marietta and Washington County at notable sites. He also championed for a walking trail along East Muskingum Park.
Baker's long-time apprentice, Larry Hall, said he has nothing but fond memories of the man he affectionately referred to as "Mr. B."
"I worked beside him for nearly 23 years, six days a week," said Hall, who started at Baker & Baker in 1973 and purchased the business in 1995. "What I learned and took from Mr. B you could never learn from a textbook or get out of a classroom. His teaching was congenial and his manner was masterful."