December 1, 1936 – April 4, 2019
It is with great sadness we announce that James Donald Baker passed away in his sleep at home in Hope, BC on April 4, 2019.
Jim will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Until his last days, he lived his life with gusto and passion. He was a Viking to the end.
He is survived by his wife Eran, children Mary (Paul Dumouchel), Wendy (Kelly Russ), and Paul (Megan Alford), and Eran’s daughter Arwen Fitzpatrick (Jeremy Ohlback), who have two children each, respectively, Etienne, Mathieu, Peter, Sarah, Charlotte, Julianne, Rex and Beatrix.
Born in Vancouver, B.C. on December 1, 1936 to Marguerite Hope and Harry Raymond Peterson, Jim was raised mainly by his mother and his uncle Don Hope after his father’s death in 1939. His mother married Ernest Baker when Jim was in his teens. He was adopted by his step-father and, at the age of 16, Jimmy Peterson became Jim Baker.
Jim attended Gladstone High on Vancouver’s east side, and then went on to UBC. Prior to graduating, he met and married his first wife, Sherry. Together they had three children, who were raised mostly in Chilliwack. In 1991 Jim married Eran and they remained happily married until his death. Jim and Eran split their time between their homes in Hope and on Hornby Island, where they enjoyed each other’s company and the love of their cat.
Professionally, Jim was known as an exceptional lawyer and as the “Baker” in Baker Newby. After graduating with a LL.B. from UBC in 1962, Jim articled with Lawrence and Shaw (now McMillan LLP), moved briefly to Robertson, Liddle and Shrum (now McCarthy Tetrault LLP), before being recruited to the City Prosecutor’s office where he began honing his storied litigation chops. He was recruited by Wilson, Hinds & Davies in Chilliwack in 1965, where he soon became a partner. In 1983, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel and remained Chilliwack’s only QC for many years. Jim was an exceptional litigator, and took great pleasure in being in a courtroom. He was a lawyer in the finest tradition, following the words of Shakespeare, to “strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends”. Jim continued practicing with Baker Newby in Chilliwack until he retired at the age of 80 in 2016. On his retirement, Jim’s office was retired also and it has been converted into a lounge for after-work drinks, with his court robes and vest presiding over all from a frame on the wall.
Although Jim often gave the impression that his main hobby was reading spy novels in a horizontal position (multitasking in later years by also providing a platform for a napping cat), he had many other interests: wine, good food and nice cars of course, but also golfing, football, fishing, travelling, and cooking, which he enhanced with hours of YouTube research and instruction. Most of all, he enjoyed chatting and joking with his many friends and family.
His sharp mind, sense of humour and warm heart will be sorely missed.
A memorial service will be held at 1 pm on April 27, 2019 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, 9201 Corbould St, Chilliwack, BC.