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Published: Monday, 9/23/2013

DR. DONALD BAKER, 1943-2013

Football star became a teacher, coach, then orthopedic surgeon

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Dr. Donald Baker, an orthopedic surgeon who had been a football star at Scott High School and the University of Toledo and then coached at both schools and at Macomber High School, died Friday at his Springfield Township home.

He was 70. His cause of death was not known, his son, David Baker said.

Dr. Baker played offense and defense from 1962 to 1964 for the Rockets. On offense, he played as a fullback and guard. While on defense, Dr. Baker played middle guard, linebacker, and cornerback.

“First and foremost, my father was a competitor. He loved to compete,” his son David said.

“I know that one of the quotes he used to tell me is, ‘It’s not a sin to get knocked down, but it is a sin to lay there.’ I think that was kind of indicative of the way he approached everything, including football.”

Dr. Baker opened a practice with Dr. George Rakolta on Jefferson Avenue in 1981. Specializing in orthopedic surgery, Dr. Baker used his skills as a team doctor for Scott and Macomber high schools and the Toledo Storm hockey team throughout the years.

He told The Blade in 1976 that he had thought about becoming a doctor for some time, saying “medical school was something I had in the back of my mind for a long time, and suddenly I began giving it more thought. I decided that if I didn’t act on it, I would be 45 years old some day wishing I had tried it.”

He had been a teacher at Scott and Macomber before enrolling at the former Medical College of Ohio.

Dr. Baker, along with his siblings, was a patron of the Baker Scholarship Fund.

He was an asset to the community from the moment he walked onto the University of Toledo campus until his death, said former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who served as a backfield coach while Dr. Baker was on the Rockets.

“He was a gentleman who, no matter what assignment he received, he always did the job asked of him to the best of his ability,” Mr. Finkbeiner said. “He never asked for any accolades or pats on the back. He just did the job asked of him to the best of his ability. He was a pleasure to be the coach of.”

Frank Lauterbur, head coach of the Rockets from 1963 to 1970, also had high praise: “Don Baker was not just a football player when he was at the University of Toledo — he was an excellent scholar and a very involved and caring student.”

Dr. Baker was defined by a love of people and a need to help those around him, his son David said.

Dr. Baker rarely — if ever — missed one of David’s high school football games.

“My senior year we made it to the playoffs and I recall he was very excited about that,” his son said.

Surviving are his wife, Carolyn, whom he married in 1965; brothers, Al, Frank, and Raymond; sisters, Barbara Baker and Kathryn Palmer; sons Aaron, Donald, Jr., and David, and four grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.



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