Peter "Pete" Watson Baker of Wailuku, Hawaii, died peacefully on October 3, 2013 after a brief illness, at Maui Memorial Medical Center. He was surrounded by many dear and loving friends.
Pete was born on December 7, 1943 in Columbus, Ohio. Moving soon after and raised in Westfield, New York, Pete developed a love for family, deeply nurtured by his parents Mary and William, and grandparents Alice (VanValkenberg) and Charles Watson, as well as great appreciation for community, animals, the outdoors and beautiful places. His high school years were spent in Paw Paw, Michigan, when his father was transferred for employment with the Welch Grape Juice plant in Lawton. Pete served as President of his senior class. Upon Bill's promotion to Welch's corporate office, the family returned to Westfield in 1964. Many of Pete's Paw Paw friendships endured until his passing.
Pete graduated from the Evanston College of Education, in Evanston, Illinois. He attained numerous honors there, including appointment to Outstanding Young Men of America 1967. After graduation, Pete entered the Peace Corps and served in Liberia, Africa, for two years. He enlisted in the Army in 1969, and was honorably discharged in 1971. Pete then began his teaching career for the Hawaii Department of Education and dedicated his life to the children of Hawaii, first at Makaha Elementary School on Oahu, and then at Maui's upcountry Makawao Elementary School in 1986 where he remained as a Third Grade Teacher and Reading Specialist until his retirement.
Pete was predeceased by his mother Mary Elizabeth Watson Baker, in 1988, and father William Arnold Baker, in 1992. He is survived by his daughter, Leisa Ferguson-Baker of Kalama, Washington; a brother, Christopher Allen (Barbara) Baker of Weedsport, New York; a sister, Sara Low (Donald) Michalak of Fredonia, New York; a niece, Alice Virginia Orona of Phoenix, Arizona; and a nephew Benjamin Baker Michalak of Rochester, New York. Cousins also surviuve.
A celebration of Pete's life will be held at the residence of John and Mary Costales, Pete's island family, on Tavares Bay, Maui; and in Westfield, New York, at a date and place to be announced.