YORK – Frank Baker was a jack-of-all-trades, often fixing broken things or making something that he didn’t want to buy. “He always loved to work with his hands,” said his wife, Maxine Baker.

He made everything from desks to bookshelves, foot stools and toys for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

His oldest daughter, Susan McVety, has a collection of the toys that he made for her children. She has a bus with tiny faces painted on the side, trucks with secret compartments, a bulldozer and small turtles with heads that bob up and down.

Even the children who rode the bus during the 11 years Mr. Baker drove for the York School District remember him for those toys.

“He’d make toys and give them to some of these kids on the bus,” his wife said, something she discovered only when a former student recognized Mr. Baker a few years ago. “(The students) called him Uncle Frank.”

Mr. Baker died Monday. He was 87.

After graduating from South Portland High School, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served as a flight engineer. Before he was honorably discharged as a corporal in 1946, Mr. Baker’s true love for his family became evident.

“He wrote letters every day to his mother when he was in the service,” his daughter said, and the family still has the collection.

When he returned home, Mr. Baker formed Baker and Cook Bakery, which his brother-in-law took over. He then attended Northeast Business School for accounting, which his wife said was a degree he never used.

“He was 29 years old,” she said. “He never went to get an accounting job because he thought he was too old.”

Instead, he worked for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard until his retirement in 1982. Throughout his working years and into retirement, Mr. Baker kept busy as a member of the St. Aspinquid Lodge No. 198 of the Free Masons.

“He loved everything to do with the Masons,” his daughter said, and he enjoyed helping the community.

His wife and children remember him as a morning person.

“He’d tap dance and be ready for breakfast,” his daughter said of the little jig he would do most mornings in the kitchen.

His son Dean Baker remembers the times the family spent at their camp on Watchic Lake in Standish.

“His father had built (it) in 1937,” his wife said, and the family has enjoyed it and the lake ever since.

“He was a daredevil,” Dean Baker said. “He loved to water-ski.”

Mr. Baker water-skied until he was 75. If he wasn’t being tugged behind the boat, he was the one driving, his son said.

“He’d pull all the kids and grandkids on water skis or tubes or knee boards,” he said.

“He was fun,” his daughter said.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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