Martin Wharey Baker grew up in Seattle training Labrador Retrievers and sailing Flatties on Lake Washington with his three brothers. His love of history led him through graduate school and was a lens through which he viewed the political and cultural changes he experienced. His strong interior life almost led him to seminary, and was a source from which he drew his whole life.
Martin committed himself fully to everything he undertook. His first job, as Executive Director of the Washington Environmental Council, solidified his commitment to environmental issues. This was a current that shaped his professional and community life. The 20 years working at Seattle Public Utilities was particularly import
ant to Martin. As Deputy Director at SPU, he led teams of people working on environmental justice and habitat protection and restoration issues, coming full circle with his job with WEC. Martin is remembered as a mentor, for his honest inquiry, and for the trust he engendered in relationships. If people needed an ally or an ear Martin was the go-to person. These are the traits he lived by.
As his family, we experienced this daily. He and Donna (Klemka) grew their home, land and family in the 46 years they have lived on Vashon, an incredible privilege that Martin felt deeply. Martin loved and supported us as unique individuals. He would write and slide letters to Karey (Steve, Mairin) and Nari (Paul, Raven) under their bedroom doors for them to find in the morning. He unabashedly offered his love and commitment to us.
After retiring, Martin had more time to sail on his beloved boat, Eos, but his real passion shifted to woodworking. One of his first projects was to make a chair designed by Sam Maloof. In true Martin fashion, he didn’t stop with just one chair. He became curious about changes to the design – a deeper seat, a longer arm, a lower back, different wood – and proceeded to make 8 chairs, each with its own unique design. His family is fortunate to have these and other pieces that embody his love of wood. He experienced wood as alive, and that is how these pieces feel to us.
Martin found his meditative space on his bicycles. He loved re searching the specifications and components of his bikes and sensed even the smallest changes in geometry and performance. Bicycles were an extension of this man, and he loved to ride alone and with his friends.
Martin is cherished and missed. We are so grateful to have had this tender, compassionate, committed soul as our father and husband. He provided in every way for us.
July 7, 1947 – October 29, 2022
No memorial service is immediately planned, but Martin’s family will let people know when one has been scheduled.