Shoreline, WA - Ralph Edward Baker "Papa," 88, passed away Thursday, July 22, 2021 surrounded by his loving family.
Born in Joliet, Illinois June 8, 1933 to Delane (Kelly) and Marcel Baker. Relocated to Seattle, WA in 1938 following an invitation from his grandmother, Anna Baker.
In 1951 Ralph enlisted in the US Navy where he was stationed in San Diego, earned his GED, and trained as a Medical Corpsman.
In 1955 he worked as a salesman at the Seattle International Trade Fair where he also met the love of his life, Zenaida. Then, in 1957 he joined his father at The Baker Company and started his career as a travelling salesman. "Ralph was born to sell."
In 1958 he married his wife, Zenaida Brillantes, they made their first home in Edmonds, WA, then later in Richmond Beach of Shoreline where they raised their four children.
In 1967 he purchased The Bench Shop in the University District and then in 1968 opened The Bench Leathers. His business provided many leather goods, highlighting the designer boots brand, Frye; and later was the very first store in the Northwest to bring on the popular shoe brand, Vans.
In the summer of 1978 Ralph had an amazing opportunity to run The Rivers Inlet Resort in British Columbia, a place known for its magnificent scenery and exceptional salmon fishing. Years later, he enjoyed sharing the stories of his incredible experience with his family, and even had the opportunity during their boating excursions to share the beauty and wonderful memories he had from that summer.
In 1985 Ralph chose a new career path joining his younger brother Terry Baker at Arctic Alaska Fisheries as a seafood salesman. Ralph had a strong presence with his boisterous voice, and contagious laughter that carried throughout the office. He was loved by his colleagues, they were his friends. And after his retirement in 1996, he continued these life-long friendships.
Ralph took great pleasure in boating, traveling, golfing, fishing, cooking and baking. He was a member of the International Lions Club, and the Edmonds Yacht Club. He had an incredible sense of humor, and loved to socialize. Ralph was devoted to his family and his friends, he took great pride in his children, and was an incredible "papa" to his grandchildren.
Ralph was an avid traveler and visited many parts of the world. He had a passion for photography, and through his lens, it was obvious that he never took the beauty that surrounded him for granted. Ralph and Zenaida's travels were almost always followed by a family gathering, a time to share his photos and picture slides. He was quite the storyteller, with his booming voice and laughter, and his famous expression, "man oh man!" he never left a detail out. And when he shared these experiences, it was as if we were reliving those trips with him.
Ralph also loved sharing his cooking and baking. He was always experimenting with new recipes, which everyone always enjoyed! And, without a doubt, Ralph's joy for cooking has been passed down to all of his children.
Ralph was a true family man. He shared his passion for boating with his wife and children, they spent several weeks over many summers boating, fishing and exploring the waterways of the beautiful Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. Not only did he teach his family the ropes (literally), "captain" Ralph passed on a love for boating that is so deep, it runs in his family's blood to this day.
Ralph "Papa" is survived by his wife of 63 years, Zenaida (Brillantes) Baker; his children, John E. Baker, Kelly Baker-Yalowicki and her husband Al, Joe Baker and his wife Lisa, James Baker and his wife Evelyn; his grandchildren, Mackenzie, Keanna (and her husband Nicolus), Taylor, Sydney, Keaton, Michael, Natalia, Joshua and Corey; his brothers Dan and Dick Baker; many nieces, nephews; and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents Delane (Kelly) and Marcel Baker, brother Terry Baker, and sister Donna (Baker) Stedman.
Ralph was peacefully laid to rest at the honorable veterans memorial at Tahoma National Cemetery.
The family wishes to send a special thank you to the staff at All About Seniors Adult Family Home in Richmond Beach for their care and compassion.
A private memorial service will be held for family and close friends at 6pm on Friday, October 22, 2021