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Obituaries Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 26, 2009

Ivan Baker

By Zach Simeone

KNOX — Ivan Baker was an independent businessman, a jokester, and an Old Man of the Mountain with an enormous circle of friends. He died Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 at his home in Castleton, surrounded by family. He was 85.

“He was a teaser,” said his son, David Baker. “He used to shoot my mom in the face with the milk from the teat of a cow,” he laughed.

Mr. Baker was born on Jan. 29, 1924 in Delanson to the late Merrill and Ollie Baker. His father was a highway superintendent and Democratic Party chairman in Knox.

Mr. Baker graduated in 1942 from Berne-Knox Central High School, and served in the United States Army during World War II.

In 1943, Mr. Baker married Florence Mildred Rendo, to whom he was married for 47 years. Their marriage ended only with her death. They met when he lived in Knox, attending school in Berne.

“My dad was absolutely a people person,” his son said. “The thing my dad is known for is he loved people; he had fun with people; he knew how to have fun and enjoy people. Even when they went fishing, it wasn’t about how many he caught — it was about what he shared with those people, and his circle of friends was huge.”

Baker liked to fish, was a hunter in his youth, an avid boater, and loved to go camping with his family.

He worked for New York Telephone and Telegraph until 1953, when he left the company to buy and operate the South Bethlehem Grocery Store.

While there, “He was instrumental in them getting the firehouse in South Bethlehem,” David Baker said.

“My dad was an astute businessman,” he went on. “He was an independent grocer for a long time, and he had to be very creative about how he survived and made money in that business, especially with the competition from the big-box stores.”

Later, Mr. Baker owned and operated the Castleton Supermarket until 1978, when he left to sell appliances at Montgomery Ward. He retired from Wards in 1988.

“The legacy in his life really was the spiritual impact he made,” his son said, “and what he did as a person who shared his faith, and he was really very active in the church, in the ministry, in visitation, sharing his faith with people, and leading them to the Lord and the way of salvation.”

Mr. Baker was active as an elder at the Ministry of Schodack and the Altamont Christian and Missionary Alliance churches.

His son also called him an innovator, recalling the time his father made a lawnmower from a baby carriage and parts of a washing machine.

“He took a baby carriage,” his son said, “mounted a washing machine motor to it with the shaft that would normally turn the agitator in the washing machine and faced it down, mounted a mowing blade to it, had the motor set to the spin cycle, plugged it in, and he’s pushing a baby carriage around his yard and mowing his lawn.”

And Mr. Baker always had a sense of humor.

“Even a few days before he passed away, he was telling my son a joke,” David said.

Additionally, Mr. Baker, along with Herbert Wolford and Joe Fargus, was a founding member of the Old Men of the Mountain, a few dozen Hilltown men who still meet for breakfast every Tuesday, at a different location each week.

John Williams, a friend of Mr. Baker, joined the group a few weeks after its inception, and for the past 12 years has written a weekly “Old Men of the Mountain” column for The Altamont Enterprise.

The column tells of the group’s weekly meetings, describing the meal, and painting a picture of the conversation that took place between bites, whether the old men are discussing Hilltown happenings, or reminiscing about the days before they were, as Mr. Williams refers to them, “OFs.”

“The Old Men of the Mountain grew like topsy,” Mr. Williams said. “First, it was just the five of us going out for breakfast, and we weren’t called anything. And then, it grew, and then Wilma Willsey started putting something in the paper, and it just grew from there.”

Mr. Baker had a physique that fit his fun-loving personality and sense of humor, Mr. Williams went on.

“He was always rotund,” said Mr. Williams. “He was jovial, easy going, and just seemed to be having a lot of fun — that’s his personality to us.”


Mr. Baker is survived by six children: Larry Baker of Cummings, Ga., and his wife, Sherolyn; Nadine Tanner of Rensselaer and her husband, John; Dianne Rieck of Nassau; Ellen Honsinger of Castleton; David Baker of Perth and his wife, Virginia; and Gearold Baker of Ghent and his wife, Amy.

He is also survived by two sisters: Evelyn Zeh of Slingerlands; and Dorothy Wyatt of Bradenton, Fla., as well as a daughter-in-law, Lonna Baker.

He is survived, too, by 24 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren.

His wife, Florence Mildred Baker, and two sons, Leonard and Mark Baker, died before him. His brother, Walter Baker, and his son-in-law, Garry Honsinger, died before him as well.

A funeral service was held on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009, at Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont, followed by interment at Knox Cemetery.

Denis C. Ryan

ALTAMONT — Denis C. Ryan, a local businessman and loving husband and father, died on Nov. 22, 2009, in his Slingerlands home with his family by his side. He was 67.

Mr. Ryan was born on Sept. 28, 1949, in Yonkers. He was the son of the late Edward and Charlotte Ryan.

He owned and operated Tri-City Transmissions, a business in Albany, for many years. He conducted his business with “honesty and integrity,” wrote his family in a tribute.

Mr. Ryan lived in Altamont, and raised his family there, for 35 years, before moving to Slingerlands. His favorite place to vacation was on Nantucket, and his family wrote that many memories were made there.

Denis C. Ryan is survived by his wife of 47 years, Gail; his children, Denis Jr., and his wife, Laurie, Christine Burke, and her husband, Thomas, Keith, and his wife, Colleen, and Colleen, and her partner, Barbara; his sister, Patricia, of Irvington, N.Y.; and five grandchildren, Derek, Kelli, Alexandra, and Kate.

His brother, Edward Jr., died before him, as did his son, Timothy.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Wednesday at St. Matthew’s Church in Voorheesville. Burial followed in Fairview Cemetery, in Altamont. Arrangements were by Applebee Funeral Home, in Delmar.

Memorial contributions may be made to Gilda’s Club of the Capital Region, 1 Penny Lane, Latham, NY 12110.

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