Willard Elliot Baker

January 4, 1924


January 15, 2021

Willard Elliot Baker

January 4, 1924


January 15, 2021

Willard E. Baker, 97, passed away, Friday, January 15, 2021 at Avantara in Billings from a recent fall.
Officially named after his grandfather, he was lovingly named Willard by his parents, Everett and Molly Baker on January 4, 1924 in Billings. Willard has one sister, Virginia Frank of Billings and two sons, Scott (Linda) of Billings and Mark (Debra) of Cheney, Washington. Additionally Willard has four grandchildren Todd (Ann) Baker, Ryan (Rachel) Baker, Travis Baker, and Tanya Baker, and five great-grandchildren Sera, Gabe, Ivy, Raina, and Libby. His parents and his wife Shirley preceded him in death.
Willard attended schools in Billings, graduating from Billings Senior. He went onto college at the University of Montana in Missoula. His education was interrupted by WWII. As a boy Willard was active in the Billings Rotary Boys Band as a baritone player. He was also a member of the Boy Scouts and played catcher on both an American Legion baseball team and on a City League baseball team. While attending Billings Senior, he was active in band, several school clubs, and ran on the track team as a low hurdler.
Willard served in WWII with the 17th Airborne Division as a U.S. Army Master Sargent combat paratrooper. He parachuted over the Rhine River into Germany and remained there until the end of the war. After WWII, Willard returned to Billings in 1946 and went into the family business, Baker Transfer and Storage with his dad and two uncles. He remained there until he retired as Manager / Owner upon the sale of the business in the spring of 1984.
On May 11, 1946, Willard married his high school sweetheart, Shirley M. Hofacker. They were Married for 54 years until Shirley passed away in April, 2003. Throughout their marriage they were avid travelers, taking their travel from coast to coast. They especially enjoyed camping in Yellowstone Park, the Oregon Coast and along Rock Creek at Red Lodge. At Christmas Willard along with Shirley enjoyed dropping by their friends and relatives to deliver plates filled with homemade cookies and candies, always wearing their bright red Christmas socks.
Besides managing Baker Transfer, Willard was active in the Yellowstone Kiwanis Club, PTA, Elks, The Billings Traffic Club, The Billings Chamber of Commerce, Allied Van Lines Board of Directors, Montana Motor Carriers, and the Montana Warehousemen’s Association. He also received the Boy Scout Silver Beaver Award for his contributions as a leader in Boy Scouts that included taking a troop of scouts to the Boy Scout National Jamboree. He remained in shape by running at the YMCA for over 55 years. Additionally Willard was active on several YMCA committees. Recently, Willard was active in the Big Sky Honor Flight to help his fellow WWII Veterans to travel to Washington DC to tour the WWII Veteran’s Memorial.
The Baker family wishes to thank Doctors, Hagen and Christianson for their loving and passionate care. Additionally the Baker family wishes to thank both the staff of West Park Village and Avantara for their thoughtfulness and caring services.
Per Willard’s wishes he has been cremated. It was also his wish and desire to have only a graveside committal with his family and a few friends.
Those wishing to make a donation in Willard’s name could contribute to the Billings Food Bank, Salvation Army, Billings Elks Scholarship Fund, or the charity of their choice.
Dad, granddad, great-granddad, uncle, brother, veteran, scoutmaster, friend, and boss, you will be greatly missed. Dad will you say hello to mom for all of us when you meet up? It is great to know that you and mom are together once again. God Bless You!!

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35 thoughts on “Willard Elliot Baker”

  1. Willard was such a good friend to my mom and dad, Pete and Doris Zagorda. He graduated high school with my mom and worked on many high school reunions with her. He was a great friend to my dad too, especially when they moved into West Park Retirement. Willard was so upbeat and helped his transition to Westpark. He will be remembered fondly

    1. Thank you for your thoughts on dad. He so enjoyed working on and going to his Billings Senior High Reunions. He & mom were Billings Bronc fans all their lives.

  2. What a wonderful, happy guy. I have so many great memories of Willard from Kiwanis, especially the family “fishouts.”

  3. Brent, Willard was a longtime member of Yellowstone Kiwanis. He was active on countless projects, TV Auctions, & committees for several decades including being President of the Club. The highlight of his time with Kiwanis was a trip to the national convention in Cincinnati Ohio. Thank You bringing back to our family, the Kiwanis memories.

  4. Jean and Mick Youngbauer

    Our condolences are with your family,he is in a better place with the angles and clouds,our prayers are with you🙏🙏🙏he was a good dad in the family.

  5. Willard was a great friend that I got to know through my time at Archie Cochrane. He was so easy to talk to and always had a positive attitude. I always felt lifted up after visiting with him.
    His example on how to treat people should be a must for those who interact with the public and just one on one talks. I feel I am a better person for having known him. His memory will always be etched in my memory of him. I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family.
    I am privileged to have graduated with his son Scott fron Billings Senior High. Go Broncs!! His personality and wisdom have been passed onto the family members as I see it played out in Scott and Linda’s life. I count it a blessing to have known Willard. May God bless your family and know that his memories will sustain you through your loss.

    1. Dennis, your kind words and remarks are very comforting. Dad was truly a very outgoing in ddition to always being an up person. He was a FORD person all his life execpt for one Suburan to pull their camp trailer. He too & mom were life long Bronc supporters.

  6. We will miss Willard. He was a truly great man , a great friend. May him and Shirley be happy in Heaven . Willard give Shirley a big hug from us. Our condolences. Bonnie and Len

    1. Willard appreciated your long time friendship. I am sure he and Shirely are planing a trip in the havens. Again thanks—Scott

  7. I am sorry for your loss. Having the pleasure of being with Willard at WPV, making sure he sat the his friends and enjoying life. I also remember him scheduling his 90th birthday early, because he did not think he would hit that milestone. I think about Willard everytime I see Baker transport

    1. Thanks for your thoughts and I am glad you enjoyed your positive times with Willard at West Park over the years. He was always very sociall & out going.

  8. Dear Scott, Mark and Baker Family,
    We were so saddened to learn of Willard’s passing. He was an outstanding customer of ours for a long time and we thoroughly enjoyed his visits to our restaurant. We’ve missed him over the past year, though we understood why he couldn’t visit. We are glad he got to enjoy some Chicken Noodle Soup at home during this time. We are so very grateful for his service to our country and his continued service to our community. We consider ourselves lucky and blessed to have known him. Even if we had never met him, we would have known how great a man he was by the sons he raised. Please accept our deepest condolences for you loss. Your entire family is in our thoughts.

    Mike, Antonia and the Soup and Such Team

    1. Mike, we apprecaite your kind and thoughtful remarks about dad. His family was to, very very proud of his service to our nation and our community. Dad though your chicken noodle soup was second to none and your salad choices were outstanding. Again thank you—Scott

  9. Willard made a huge impact on my family when he was the scoutmaster of Troop 6 at the First Presbyterian back in the 60’s & 70’s. My brothers and I enjoyed many years of his leadership and great scouting memories. Surprised we didn’t burn down Rehberg’s ranch! Those were real barnfires! I always enjoyed seeing him and Shirley in the community for the last few decades. I’m sorry for your loss

    1. Rob I like your uplifting remarks about dad. One of the high lights of his life was being involved in Scouting. Camporees, Jamborees, Winter-Summer Camps were activities he looked forward to. Dad for only being a 2nd Class scout himself never missed seeing his scout move up the ranks and to become positive adults in our community. He and mom enjoyed their time with your parents at various Scout acitivies also. As dad was so often say BE PREPARED. Thank You

  10. Willard was one in a million. I was privileged to get to know him while both working at West Park Village and as a member of the Big Sky Honor Flight Committee. He always had a smile on his face and a story to tell. You family is in our thoughts and prayers. Cory, Krista, Kellan, Leyton and Gannon Moore

    1. Dad was so very pleased that our community found the funds and people such as your Cory to mwke the Big Sky Honor Flight such a success for so many WWII veterans. He loved to tell stories and jokes all the time for young and old. Thank You—Scott

  11. I am so sad for the loss of sweet Willard. As an independent caregiver, I was in and out of WPV regularly. He absolutely made my day every time I saw him. He had the sweetest, most gentle soul. Even in our many, yet brief, encounters, he truly touched my heart and soul. What a precious man! I am so sorry for your loss. I will remember him forever. God bless.

    1. Thank you for your so very warm remarks about our dad. He truly loved meeting with and visiting with everyone. I am glad you too enjoyed your times with our dad. THANK YOU

  12. I am so so sad to hear of Willard’s passing. Thank you so much for letting me know. I will so miss receiving & sending funny cards to each other on every holiday.
    I met Willard while running at the Y many years ago & continued to be coffee buddies after that. We had known each other for a while before we realized Mark & I had graduated together. He was an amazing man. He became friends with anyone he met & I never heard him say a bad word about anyone.
    Please accept my sincerest condolences. I know how greatly he will be missed.

  13. Willard, dad, was an avid runner-walker all his life. As a ememer of the Y for decades he was active on several committees and drives for expansion. After leaving the Y in his 80’s he continue to walk around West Park on his alker daily or in the halls on bad weather days. I am sure he has mapped out a new course up above. Thanks for the memories!!

  14. Nancy and Bill Boyer

    Willard and Shirley Baker were very precious to us. They both attended the Christian Science Church for many years. We would go to lunch together many times and we all chatted happily. They were delightful. I am so sorry we did not see so much of Willard the last several years, but he was very special to us. Scott if there is anything we can do for you and your brother please let us know. We would love to have your phone #. We are in the phone book. Love to your whole Family, Bill and Nancy Boyer

    1. WE–Appreciate your kind remarks. Dad & Mom found great comfort in thieir long term attendance at the Christian Science Church. They always looked forward to lunch with the Boyers over the many years. I to am in the phone book & here is our number 406-259-2346. He remained happy & outgoing until just a couple of weeks before his passing. Thank You—Scott

  15. I’m so sorry for your loss, my prayers, and thoughts go out to the Baker family.
    I often reminisce, about the time I spent at Baker Transfer and what a great boss I had!
    I went to see him when I found out he was in West Park and was surprised by the great outlook he had.
    Scott and Mark, you truly had a great father and mother.

  16. Jerry what kind words you have for dad. Dad never forgot the year you gave up most of your summer/weekends to make multiple road trips for the the Company. He was so appreciative of your efforts in such a positive manner. He was very active at West Park including driving his car until he was a couple months short of being 95. Even at 97 he was alert & telling the West Park staff and people at ST V’s jokes up until just a couple of weeks beofre his passing. Again thank you—Scott

  17. Oh my gosh! This makes me sad but I am so happy to have known him for so long. What a wonderful man. So full of lo love and joy. He was always so active and enthusiastic. He helped my plan a big Veterans Day performance and tour for my school kids 3 years ago. He will be missed by many. Much love to you..

  18. Patti thank you for you remarks. Willard loved working with youth. He went to several schools, elementary-middle & high school to talk about his experiences .
    In addition he was also a pen pal wih with students. He truly loved life!!

  19. Scott and Linda, We have enjoyed collecting a few stories of Willard as a Boy Scout leader and an employer for my brother Allan Toole
    during one of his college summers. In fact, I can not remember a time when we did not know Willard! He was a marvelous man who gave generously to his community. Please send Angus or Margie your street address so we can send a few more thoughts and a photo. You can also reach Angus at work.

    1. Margie & Angus Thank you for uour thoughts. Our street address for Linda &
      me is 122 Norris Court N Billings 59105
      Dad enjoyed his scouting days and his trip to the National Jamboree as the area scout master. He found working with scouts very rewarding. Dad always appreciated the legal advice Angus provided over the years with great confidence. Thaank you for your years of friendship. Scott

  20. My wife Shelly and I met your parents on the ferry ride across Waterton Lake. We had just descended from the mountains after facing blizzard conditions in the middle of August. We were cold and tired. As we crossed the lake, your folks struck up a conversation with us and we talked for most of the ride. As we disembarked, they asked us if we wanted to join them for lunch. They treated us to a nice, hot meal. When they found out we were going to be hitchhiking back to our car at the border, they offered to give us a lift. It was a great blessing to meet Willard and Shirley. We exchanged letters since 1991. They sent us anniversary cards every year for almost 30 years! What a wonderful couple. We will never forget them and always keep them in our prayers.

  21. My parents mentioned their day with you multiple times over the years. They were both very caring & helpful people. I am glad they were able to stay in contact with you over the past 30 years. My brother & I wish you the best in the coming years. Dad touched many lives over the years. Thank you

  22. scott bierwiler

    i just stumbled onto the news of Willard’s passing. i always called him “mr. baker” even as an adult. i was the youngest brother of a couple of his scouts & son of his dear friend, fred bierwiler. i too foster fond memories of camping & scouting with mr.baker. he signed off on my tenderfoot badge 🙂 i will hold those memories & lessons about teamwork & citizenship in my heart all my days. thank you for being a part of my life.

    1. Our dad had a very special place in his scouting hear for the Bierwilers. Your dad, Red, and ours were very close friends both in & out of scouting for decades. I am sure they are up their around a heavely campfire discussing their scouting memories. Scott thank you for your thoughts.

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