1926 – 2012
“Mr. Yard Birds”
It has been said that Dick Baker was the heart and soul of Yard Birds. He was one of Jones and Gillingham’s first employees and stayed on with the store into the 1980s. Dick knew everyone that worked there and they knew him – “Mr. Yardbirds”. He was one of those rare people who had a kind word for everyone and for whom everyone had nothing but praise. Dick was a tireless and devoted leader who helped make Yard Birds what it was. He truly cared about the people who came there.
Dick and his wife Mary kindly gave us hours and hours of their time, sharing stories for our movie Skinny and Fatty: the Story of Yard Birds. We enjoyed them a lot and if we were ever visiting the area they were first on our list of people to see.
We will always remember and appreciate our time with both of them and know that anyone else lucky enough to have worked with or spent time with the Bakers will miss them dearly.
From a 1976 edition of the Yard Birds employee newsletter “Chirp-n-Chatter”.
EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH RICHARD NORMAN BAKER – was born ninth of ten children on July 29, 1926 to Doretha and John. Dick ‘s father passed away when Dick was very young and then his mother died when he was fourteen years old. But the family of four brothers and six sisters managed to stick together, the younger ones being raised by the older children.
School years were all spent in Omaha, Nebraska. Working at various jobs nights and going to school days, Dick graduated from North High School 1n 1944. Soon after graduation he went into the army . Although World War II was raging, Dick served his two years in the states in field artillery and paratroop training. Discharged in 1946 he came to Washington to visit a sister and stayed, not returning to Nebraska.
In 1947 he applied for work at the newly formed Yard Birds, that had just opened on Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Being the second employee to be hired by the company, he has seen many changes take place, while growing to its present-day status. His first duties, were that of Jack-of-all-trades, doing whate ever needed to be done. Closing this store in 1948 they moved to a new location (now referred to as the Old Yard Birds) in Chehalis.
Meeting his wife, Mary at a dance this same year, they dated for a year and were married on Labor Day in September 1949. For this big event the entire Yard Birds store was closed so all the employees could attend the wedding. They spent one week honeymooning in California and Reno, Nevada before returning to work.
In August 1950 their first son, Gregory was born. Greg has two children- a girl Allison and a boy Chris. He lives 1n Idaho now.
Michael was born two years later in September 1952. Mike is married and lives in Centralia. This same year Dick was promoted to the position of store manager, which he has held for 26 years.
Brenda completed their family in August 1957. She is employed by You Mark-It and lives at home.
A new Yard Birds store was built in 1970 and Dick once again moved with the store to its present location.
Gardening and reading are relaxing past times for Dick. Nostalgia is also his bag. He appreciates old movie stars, bands and singers.
Dick has not done a great deal of traveling, other than to Reno, Nevada and Stockton, California to visit relatives. Although he and Mary did manage a trip to Ugoslovia which he found interesting and enjoyed very much. Hawaii is another place Dick has enjoyed seeing.
This summer the family got together for a family reunion in Stockton, California. All ten children and their families attended, coming from Nebraska, California and Washington for the event.
A very dedicated store manager, Dick has not only seen many changes in the 32 years he has been with Yard Birds, he has acted as arbitrator, helping solve many a problem.