Though his father was a used automotive wholesaler and at the very least two of his uncles had been automotive salesmen, Bob Baker had no intention of stepping into the automotive enterprise.

A religious Catholic who attended spiritual faculties as a baby, Baker needed to be a priest.

For the report:

8:15 a.m. Sept. 8, 2021This story corrects the spelling of Bob Baker’s mom’s title to Dory. Additionally, Baker proprietor 25 automotive dealerships throughout his profession.

As a substitute, maybe by means of a mixture of destiny and wish, he would discover success in proudly owning greater than 25 automotive dealerships all through the nation throughout a profession that spanned 60 years. He additionally would anguish over a deadly crash involving considered one of his automobiles that killed a household and led to a worldwide recall.

Baker, 89, died at his Rancho Santa Fe dwelling on Sunday. His son, Chris, the youngest of 5 Baker youngsters, mentioned the trigger was a combination of dementia, lymphoma and renal failure.

“Bob was not difficult,” mentioned his pal and former enterprise accomplice Dave Ezratty, who now lives in Idaho. “He taught you the straightforward issues: ‘Watch the pennies and nickels and that can get you the {dollars}.’ Bob didn’t hand out something; he gave folks alternative. In the event that they listened to him, they might achieve success. He needed everyone to succeed, even his opponents.”

Baker was born on Oct. 1, 1931, at Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles, the oldest of 4 youngsters of Halem and Dory (Peterson) Baker. He grew up in Los Angeles in the course of the Despair and as an 8-year-old, would buy magazines for 8 cents after which promote them for a dime to assist assist the household. He later took on a newspaper route.

When he was 10, Baker’s mother and father divorced and he spent the remainder of his childhood in foster houses, boarding homes and on the streets, Chris Baker mentioned.

Chris Baker mentioned that when his father “discovered that sons from divorced households weren’t allowed to enter the priesthood,” Baker enlisted within the U.S. Military in 1951 to battle within the Korean Conflict. He was 19. Two years later, he reached the entrance traces.

“He fought within the battle for Outpost Harry, a strategic place on a tiny hilltop on the direct path to the South Korean capital of Seoul,” Chris Baker mentioned. “The embattled troops had been instructed to ‘maintain in any respect prices.’”

Baker later produced a 2010 documentary, “Maintain at All Prices: The Story of the Battle of Outpost Harry,” to commemorate these concerned within the battle. In 2016, Baker donated $250,000 for a 30-foot-tall bell tower at Miramar Nationwide Cemetery in reminiscence of his Korean Conflict comrades.

Baker participated in additional than two dozen “harrowing evening patrols,” Chris Baker mentioned, and as soon as volunteered “to go on a mission from which he was instructed he wouldn’t return.”

Monsignor Dan Dillabough from the College of San Diego knew Baker for 25 years. Dillabough mentioned that Baker instructed him that as he ready for that mission, he prayed and made a pact that if he survived, he would return to California, marry his wartime pen pal, Sherrill King, increase a household, turn into profitable and serve God.

However earlier than Baker was in a position to full that mission, Chinese language troopers attacked two hours sooner than anticipated.

“He needed to retreat by means of the minefields, main two squads safely again to the primary bunker at Outpost Harry,” Chris Baker recalled. “He was on the entrance traces till a truce was declared and his Military service resulted in December 1953.”

Baker was awarded two Bronze Star medals, amongst others, for his actions in fight.

Invoice Barber, who mentioned he met Baker on the Burbank airport once they had been each heading for his or her Military element in Korea, mentioned it was laborious for him to speak in regards to the lack of his pal of practically 70 years. He reminisced about fishing journeys, and attending Rams, Chargers and Padres video games collectively.

“We had so many fantastic occasions collectively,” Barber mentioned. “I will need to have purchased 50 vehicles from him over 60 years. We’ve been pals perpetually. He was the most effective pal an individual may ask for. He lived a full life.”

When he returned from the warfare to California, he married King and enrolled in enterprise lessons at Woodbury Faculty in Burbank. When his spouse turned pregnant with their first little one, Michael, in 1954, Baker started promoting vehicles at a pal’s Ford dealership.

“(My dad) was a pure salesman with a fast and glowing smile, and he turned an instantaneous success,” Chris Baker mentioned. “From gross sales he was promoted into gross sales administration and finally tasked with working auto dealerships.”

In 1965, Baker had a chance to purchase his personal dealership in Indiana. He established and grew Bob Baker Chevrolet in Indianapolis into successful. His eldest son, Mike, began working for his dad as a 15-year-old.

Baker finally offered that dealership and moved to San Diego, buying what was then College Ford. He steadily expanded and constructed up the Bob Baker Auto Group of dealerships with manufacturers akin to Chevy, Toyota, Lexus, Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Ford, Acura, Cadillac, Nissan and Subaru. And he was behind the catchy promoting jingle, “The Bob Baker Auto Group, the place it’s so good to be good.”

His monetary success allowed him the flexibility to reside out his true ardour of serving God by serving to the neighborhood and people in want, Chris Baker mentioned.

Baker earmarked thousands and thousands of {dollars} through the years to help Catholic church buildings and faculties, packages for army veterans and underwriting for Options for Change, a nonprofit that helps get North County homeless households off the streets

Chris Megison, who heads Options for Change, mentioned he related with Baker on quite a few ranges. Megison is a former Marine whose father additionally served in Korea. The 2 males additionally shared an abiding religion in God.

“What actually struck me with Bob was he so believed that his function on Earth, due to what he survived in Korea, was a part of his pact with God,” Megison mentioned. “And so he was carrying that pact out and making an affect on households that had been homeless. All of our conversations had been round humanity and the nice in folks.”

Baker was devastated when a household of 4 was killed whereas using in a loaner automotive from his Lexus dealership in El Cajon in 2009. The deaths occurred when the automotive’s accelerator pedal turned caught and the automotive raced uncontrolled.

The case obtained worldwide consideration over unintended acceleration issues in Toyota and Lexus automobiles.

Members of the family of the victims — CHP Officer Mark Saylor, his spouse, daughter and brother-in-law — sued Baker and Toyota for wrongful demise. Native and federal investigations discovered that improperly put in flooring mats within the Lexus mannequin may trigger the gasoline pedal to stay.

Since then, Toyota has recalled 10 million vehicles for repairs and has paid greater than $1 billion in fines and lawsuits. Baker paid an undisclosed sum to relations of the Saylors.

“He was devastated from the incident, it was very painful for him to know what occurred to the Saylor household,” Chris Baker mentioned. “We consider the last word trigger was defects within the manufacturing of the car that prompted unintended acceleration. The entire thing created a rift within the relationship between my father and Toyota. I feel any finger pointing to my father’s dealership was finally vindicated by the truth that Toyota recalled thousands and thousands of automobiles for unintended acceleration.”

The final dealership Bob Baker owned was Bob Baker Toyota. He offered that dealership and totally retired in April 2016. He had beforehand offered the stability of his remaining dealership ownerships to his son, Chris, in 2014. Chris Baker bought and expanded his Carlsbad places and is constant the Bob Baker Auto Group legacy. Chris Baker’s son, Cobi, 27, can also be planning to proceed within the household auto enterprise.

Baker was preceded in demise by his spouse, Sherrill; his brothers, Dick and Ron Baker and his sister, Peggy Stewart. He’s survived by his youngsters and their households; Mike, Bridget and Austin Baker; Elizabeth (Baker) and Robert Treloar; Theresa (Baker), Sean and Eric Hertel; Mary (Baker) and Mike Ross; and Chris, Maria, Bryan, Cobi and Emily Baker. He’s additionally survived by many half siblings.

Providers will likely be held at 10:30 a.m., Sept. 18 at St. Therese of Carmel Catholic Church in Carmel Valley. Baker’s ashes will likely be break up, to be interned beside his spouse’s stays on the Church of the Nativity in Rancho Santa Fe, and on the Miramar cemetery.