Byrl Orlin Baker (B.O. or Bakes to his friends) was born on September 9, 1937, in Rapid City, S.D., likely already clad in his signature bib overalls. He was the last of eight children, all delivered by their father Robert Jesse Baker from their mother Minerva Maude Baker, née Brubaker. He departed this life on May 24, 2019, in Gordon, Neb. He was a private man and something of a recluse and wouldn’t want you to read any of this. But he was also a mischievous rebel who wouldn’t care for you much if you did the polite thing and stopped reading right now.
Byrl was told by a teacher at an early age that he would amount to nothing, and he immediately set about proving how profound and fulfilling nothing could be. He dropped out of school with an 8th grade education and pitched in at his parents’ gas station and restaurant until he was old enough to embark on a working tour of the United States. He took on various factory and other jobs each winter, saving enough money to keep him in beer, gas, and bullets throughout lazy summers of hunting and fishing in warmer climes. He always claimed he lived his retirement in reverse, and encouraged others to do the same.
Byrl remained an elusive and solitary creature akin to Bigfoot until June of 1972, when the Black Hills Flood washed him up on his niece’s doorstep seeking shelter. He found it, along with her roommate Barbara Lee Rosane, in whom he met his match and his life partner. They married in November of 1973.
Byrl settled into life as a carpenter as owner of Baker Construction after learning the trade from his brother-in-law Carney Steele. To our knowledge every home he ever built still stands strong. He would never let a compliment such as that stand, so we are certain he also wants you to know that his electrical skills were shockingly terrible (literally), he was allergic to all technology invented after the hammer, and he had the mechanical inclination of King Kong on a booze-fueled bender.
His hobbies included hunting, fishing, drinking, driving, drinking & driving, playing cards, reading history books involving awful tragedies, cracking jokes, walking his dogs, falling asleep to televised Cubs games, falling asleep in parking lots as Barb shopped, falling asleep to news from Mexico in Spanish despite not speaking a word of Spanish, and falling asleep in general. His favorite food was anything compatible with lots of ketchup, and many things that were not at all compatible with ketchup that he put lots of ketchup on anyway.
Byrl survived countless car wrecks, jobsite accidents, and surgeries in his life adventures. He owned at least three of every vehicle manufactured between 1927 and 1954, never new, and occasionally in working order. He had a warm place in the hearts of all who knew him that was always outsized relative to the time he spent with them or the words he spoke. We would like his former teacher to know that sometimes nothing is everything. And that he can go *@#! himself.
Byrl was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers Max, Mike (Robert), and Clark; his sisters Elva, Jane, Betty, and Lola Mae; his beloved dogs Petey and Buddy; and his despised cat George.
He is survived by his wife, Barb; his son Tracy and daughter-in-law Claire (along with grandchildren Bruce, Nate, and Juliet); his son Ryan and daughter-in-law Carmen (along with granddaughter Allaura); several nieces and nephews; his beloved dog Betsy; his beloved cat Stubby; and his tolerated cat Bella.