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  • Obituary: Gregory Edward Baker

    Historic City News was informed that tomorrow, Tuesday, February 21, the City of St Augustine will fly the American flag at half-mast in honor of former City Commissioner and Mayor Greg Baker.  This is part of the City’s protocol to honor deceased former city commissioners and other notable figures.

    Baker was born in Adel, GA on December 1, 1947, and passed away at the Bailey Family Center for Caring in St Augustine, on February 12, 2023. He was the oldest child of Edward and Ouida Baker. He grew up in the small south Georgia town of Ellenton, where his parents owned a small general store that served the surrounding farm community.

    “The untimely passing of former Mayor Baker is beyond heartbreaking,” current Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline said in a statement published by the City.  “He was a loyal and caring friend and generous with his heart and time as a community leader.  He will be greatly missed by all that were fortunate to have known him.”

    His family vacationed in St Augustine and ended up moving to the City in the summer of 1960.  Greg started 8th grade at Ketterlinus Junior High. The following year he began 9th grade at St Augustine High School. Greg worked in his family’s business throughout high school and junior college. While this limited his pursuit of extracurricular activities, he was nevertheless able to play on the freshman basketball team and was later the sports editor of the Jacket Journal. He always credited his time working in his family’s business with teaching him how to interact with people and with giving him the strong work ethic that propelled him to success in business and community service.

    After graduation from St Augustine High School, Greg attended St Johns River Junior College – either driving or riding the bus to the campus in Palatka each day along a bumpy two-lane road. After obtaining his Associate of Arts degree, he enrolled at Florida State University, where he majored in Risk Management and Insurance and was an active member of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity and the Risk and Insurance Society. He later obtained a Master of Science degree in Insurance Management from Boston University.

    For one year after graduation, he taught 9th-grade math at Ketterlinus Jr High School and in August 1970, he went to work for John Bailey and Pierre Thompson at Thompson Bailey Insurance and Thompson Bailey Realty.  He was always very grateful for the mentorship of John and Pierre, and he became a partner of both companies in 1976. At their direction, he began his life-long passion for community service and professional growth.  Greg served as president of ThompsonBaker Agency from 1980 to 2009.

    Among many services to his community and his profession, he served as Chairman of the Flagler Hospital Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, President of St Augustine and St Johns County Chamber of Commerce, Trustee of the Board of Independent Colleges and Universities of  Florida, Trustee of the Board of Lightner Museum and Member of the Board of the Northeast Florida Regional Council. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club of St Augustine for over 50 years.

    Baker was elected Mayor of St Augustine in December 1992 and he served in that position until December 1995.  He was appointed to continue as commissioner until the end of 1996.  During that time, he was instrumental in breathing new life back into the “Sister City” relationship with the City of Aviles, Spain, which laid dormant for almost 30 years.  Aviles is the birthplace of St Augustine’s founder Pedro Menendez.

    Baker was proud of having an instrumental role in the recovery and restoration of the anchor from the Spanish galleon, “Nuestra Señora de Atocha” at the St Augustine Lighthouse.  Upon completion of the restoration, the City of St Augustine transferred ownership of the anchor to the City of Aviles.

    Baker was also responsible for the development of Pomar Park as a new home for the baseball fields being relocated when the downtown parking garage was built. Baker was known for his “Greater St Augustine” vision which was intended to bring civic, business, and community leaders together, those he considered “old guard” and the “up-and-comers,” to find a way to blend history with modern functionality.

    Some of Greg’s many awards and recognitions include the “Outstanding Young Man of the Year” award by the St Augustine Jaycees, the Jacksonville Business Journal “Innovators in Education” Award, the “River of Excellence” Award from St Johns River State College, the “Mitchell Stallings Award”, the highest award conferred by the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, the “Sam Walton Award for Municipal Leadership”, and the St Johns River State College “Distinguished Alumni” Award. He was a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society at Flagler College and a member of the St Augustine High School Hall of Fame.

    Alongside his considerable professional and civic achievements, Greg was an enormously dedicated son, husband, brother, father, father-in-law, grandfather, and friend. He enjoyed many pursuits, including camping, wilderness canoeing, and riding motorcycles. He was an avid reader across many different areas of interest. He was an outgoing, generous, and genuinely caring person who loved his family and friends very deeply and who was kind to and interested in everyone he met.

    Greg is survived by Lillian Baker, his wife of 54 years, his children Matt Baker (Alyson) and Erin Bratic (Alan), as well as his grandchildren Luke and Elle Baker and Ava, Noah and Brady Bratic and his brothers Scott Baker (Jacque) and Eric Baker (Cara) and his sister Cindy Baker.

    The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday at Anastasia Baptist Church, a visitation will be held the same day from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. prior to the service. A reception will be held in the Atrium at the church following the service. A private burial will be held at Craig Memorial Park.

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