Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tribute to a Great Man






Today we laid to rest my grandfather, Ronald Baker, by spreading his ashes, some rose petals, a little wine and some vodka in the beautiful (and freezing) waters of Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe.  Granddad was a great man whom we all loved dearly.  He has always been one of my heroes because of his self-determination and the many things he accomplished in his many adventures in life.  He was born in England in 1929 and grew up near London during the Second World War.  Afterwards, he joined the Royal Navy and served for two years before leaving the service, marrying my grandmother (who died 6 years ago) and becoming a self-taught mechanical engineer.  In the mid-50’s he moved his young family to the United States and took a job with professor Donald Glaser at the University of Michigan.  They would go on to win the Nobel Prize in physics for one of their projects (known as a Bubble Chamber) and move to the University of California at Berkeley where they would do a lot of work in medical technology, including making significant contributions to the project to map the human genome.  Granddad loved people and especially loved when our family and closest friends gathered together from the four corners of this continent and from across the ocean.  Those gatherings were never dull, and this reunion has certainly been a worthy celebration of his life and the impact he had on all of us.  Today as we watched the rose petals floating across the almost perfectly still water of the bay we toasted to his memory and enduring influence on us all.  I always loved his stories and his British wit.  I have always treasured him as a man who, even as he worked in one of the most competitive academic environments in the world, was always more interested in talking to his family and friends than taking part in any heady academic discussion.  Even as he reached his eighties he was still a party animal.  He was incredibly practical and wise and someone we all looked up to.  We will all miss him tremendously.
Granddad, we love you, we miss you, we will never forget you or the many things you have taught us.  May you rest in peace.






6 comments:

  1. Alex, this is beautiful. I teared up reading it. I love you and I know that Granddad was (and is) so proud of you and the man you've become. Thank you for this wonderful tribute to my very favorite man I've ever known.
    love,
    em

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  2. Thanks, Em. Love you too and glad we were all able to be together last week. I think that is exactly what Granddad would have wanted.

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  3. Susie PuterbaughJune 3, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    Alex,
    I can hardly type through the tears. What a beautiful tribute to Dad/Grandad. The time we all spent together this past 2 weeks is truly something he would have loved. I know he was very proud of you. Thank you for telling his story so well. It comforts me to know we will never forget him and the lessons he taught us.

    love,
    Sue xxxx

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  4. Thanks, Aunt Sue! So good to see you guys last week.

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  5. Beautifully said. Thank You for posting this. It was great to have everyone together to honor a great man! He loved you dearly and was very proud of all you have accomplished!
    Love you Mom

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