Colonel Ward J. Baker, U.S. Air Force (Retired) of Media PA., passed away on November 16, 2023.
Ward was born on January 21, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois. His parents were Dr. William A. and Shirley S. Baker. After graduation from high school, he attended Drake University on a football scholarship and later graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. On August 1, 1955, he received his pilot wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force at Williams AFB, Arizona. During his twenty-eight year Air Force career, he served twice in Germany, the Philippines, and a number of bases within the United States. While in the Philippines, he participated in air operations in Vietnam and Laos from 1968 through 1971. Among his numerous decorations were the Legion of Merit, The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Air Medal with eleven oak leaf clusters.
In 1982, following a tour of duty in the Directorate of Air Force Operations in the Pentagon, he retired from active duty, and assumed the position of Senior Staff Engineer in the Engineering and Air Safety Department of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) in Washington, D.C. where he became well known in both the civil and military aviation communities. Following a fifteen-year career with ALPA, he again retired and relocated to Goodyear, Arizona, where he continued to act as a consultant to ALPA and also the Operations Safety Department of America West Airlines. Ward and Lydia later moved to Pennsylvania living first in Garnet Valley and then in Media.
Ward is predeceased by his wife of 64 years, the former Lydia Paradis, of Old Town, Maine; his sister Barbara Matheny of Huntington Beach, CA; and brother Bradley Baker of Hollywood, CA. He is survived by his son Ward M. Baker (Robyn) of Somerset, KY; his daughter Lori Bruce (Edward) of Wilmington, DE; sister Camille Slattery of Overland Park, KA; his grandchildren Rebecca Levens (Eric), Edward Bruce, Robert Baker, Jason Bruce; and great-granddaughter Emma Grace Levens.
Col. Ward Baker will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on a date to be announced. The Baker family requests that expressions of sympathy take the form of contributions to the USO in Col. Baker's honor in support of our service members and their families. To do so, please visit uso.org/honor (Select "Make this in honor of", and input Colonel Ward Baker, United States Air Force) or checks can be made payable to "USO" and sent to USO, Department WS, PO Box 96860, Washington, DC 20090-6860. Additionally, the family encourages everyone to take a moment to send a holiday message of appreciation and support to our Nation's service members and their families through the USO Campaign to Connect (USO.org/messages). Online condolences may be made by visiting www.paganofuneralhome.com.