Gene Baker, age 74, died Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at Avera Sister James Care Center in Yankton, South Dakota, with his daughter by his side, after a three month battle with a rare autoimmune disease.

Gene Allen Baker, son of Allen and Margaret (Ireland) Baker was born Sunday, December 16, 1945 in Sioux City, Iowa. Gene spent his first five years in Homer and Arlington, Nebraska. His family then moved to Scotland, SD where he attended grade school and high school and was a member of the United Methodist Church. In high school he was an all-state football player and was chosen to the 1st Team Tri-State Region of SD, NE and Iowa. In high school he was also chosen for all state choir, student body president and class president. After graduating from Scotland High School in 1963 Gene attended Southern State College in Springfield, SD where he was student body vice president and all-conference football. He graduated with a degree in business education.

After college Gene began his teaching career in Wausa, Nebraska where he taught business and coached football, basketball, and track. In the summer he managed and was a lifeguard at the Wausa pool and coached the swim team. In 1968 he was the football class C coach of the year and the team finished the season as State Champs with a record of 8-0. On July 1, 1975 Gene started a new career as a State Farm agent and was an agent for nearly 45 years with offices in Wausa and Bloomfield.

Gene was on the economic development board and was instrumental in bringing the assisted living center to Wausa where he currently served as vice chair. Other past positions that he held were volunteer fireman and EMT, president of the golf course, chairman of the United Methodist Church board and member of the community club. Gene was a strong believer in academic and vocational education, supported by strong activities.

Music was also a large part of Gene’s life, from the high school choir to the Methodist church choir and the community choir of Wausa. As a young man he enjoyed the male singing voices of Tennessee Ernie Ford, Elvis and later enjoyed the Three Tenors and classic solos by Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli. Gene enjoyed anything outdoors and was often working on a home or gardening project at his Lewis & Clark Lake house. He loved fishing, hunting, boating, kayaking, wood working, snorkeling and traveling to Dallas and Arizona for short trips in the winter. He also enjoyed golfing and looked forward to getting out on the course with friends and eating out at Murdo’s. Gene was a fan of all sports and those who knew him often heard him talk about his grandkids’ sporting events, which he attended any chance he had. He was very proud of all of his grandkids’ accomplishments.

He is survived by his daughter Sarah (Kyle) Streich and three grandchildren Carlie, Drew and Lily of Norfolk, Ne; sister Jan (John) Fox of Hideaway, Texas; nephew Jeff (Tiffany) Bietz of Perryton, Texas; one aunt and many cousins and good friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and an infant sister.

He was a follower of Jesus Christ. We know he is at peace and we will see him again.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Funeral services are 3:00 p.m. Monday, January 13, 2020 at Goglin Funeral Home, Yankton, South Dakota; and at 11 a.m. Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at Wausa United Methodist Church, Wausa, Nebraska.

Visitation is 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday, January 13, 2020 at Goglin Funeral Home, Yankton.

Yankton Press & Dakotan

January 13, 2020