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Susquehanna Life

Four Friends, Part II. As Told to Erica L. Shames

Aug 26, 2014 02:42PM ● By Erica Shames
Mike Zechman: “After Mike [Baker] graduated from chiropractic school—the Palmer Institute in Iowa—[Sue and he] moved back to Lewisburg. They were out there for five years. Even when they lived far away, we stayed in contact with them.” 

Scott Edmonds: “Fun binds us together, but there’s more to it.” 

Scott Smith: “I lost my mother at a young age. These guys were my other family; I had three other mothers. I know that kept me involved with these guys—we developed a friendship that, just like family, that tie doesn’t go away.”

Edmonds: “We all worked for Scott’s dad. We poured lots of concrete together. We were more like brothers than friends. People who grew up in that Boy Scout mentality, which I liken to a Lewisburg mentality, your friends in Philadelphia didn’t think like that. But these friends had the same core values.”

Zechman: “We went to sporting events, concerts, motorcycle rides together. No matter what we did together, we always had a good time.” 

Don Claus: “It was hard to stay friends. We each had kids. We got torn all kinds of different ways, and especially being 150-250 miles away. We’d have to try to get it on everyone’s calendar months in advance, usually in the summertime. First it was just with wives. Then it got to be wives and kids.” 

Edmonds: “I really think we all thought, we’re going to keep in touch and it may be two years before I talk to you again, but we’re going to be friends forever.” 

Smith: “My daughter ran track in college. We’d come to Bucknell for her meets. It was great to come to Lewisburg because Mike was so excited about track. That brought us together after a number of years. My daughter got to go to nationals. She came in fourth. We’d tell people, and they’d say, ‘That’s nice.’ So I had to call Mike and tell him. ‘Oh, wow.’ He said. ‘That’s so wonderful.’ And I knew he understood. He knew how difficult it is to achieve that.”

 Zechman: “That’s Mike’s gift – he was genuinely interested in you. When you talked to him—anyone talked to him – you knew he was listening, you knew he was interested. It just radiated from him. That’s what drew people to him. And that’s what made him successful in his practice. He was as excited for you as you were.”

Edmonds: “I remember coming to Lewisburg to go skiing. Mike was in chiropractic school, or maybe he was just coaching at that time. I got out of the car from Philly, and I couldn’t stand up straight. Everyone recommended I call Mike. He came over and laid me down on my dad’s pool table. He did a couple of maneuvers and, sure enough, I got up the next morning and went skiing as if nothing happened. I thought, wow this guy is really good. Everyone who met him knew – it was never about Mike. You had to pry anything out of him. It was always about you.”

Zechman: “You could never tell if anything was troubling him – he just didn’t express it. Toward the end when he was having trouble with the parking issues, and the development that’s going in…. A lot of people would have been very angry, and you would have known it. If you were down and out and had the blues about anything, all you had to do was spend some time with Mike. If you weren’t walking away with a smile on your face….”

Smith: “In high school, Bud Baker had a boat. He would take us water skiing. Again, Mike had to be a perfectionist at it. Anyone can ski on two skis – that’s easy. He could slalom. And he said he could teach us. ‘We can do this,’ he’d say. We’d drown every time we’d go out but Mike was a really good skier.”

Smith: “In high school, we wanted to swim competitively – so Mike said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We could only get pool time at 5 a.m. Mike would pick us up in his Mustang convertible at 4:45 in the winter. It was totally freezing. Then after we swam, we had to get into that cold convertible and drive to school. But Mike was so easy going. Nothing rattled him. We wanted to quit, and he rallied us – ‘Come on,’ he’d say, ‘you guys can’t quit.’” 

Zechman: “He’d make the best out of any situation.” 

With Mike’s passing comes the question of what will happen to the long-standing friendship the men share.

Smith: “It’s going to be the memories that keep us together. And we’ll keep involved with Sue.” 
Edmonds: “Mike’s the kind of person—you just think of him and you smile. Mike’s part of our essence. His dad has been gone a long time. But we talk about Bud like he was still around. He was such an influence on all of us.” 

Edmonds: “Mike’s spirit will live on with us, and when we do things we’ll think about Mike and what he would do if he was here. That’s part of being such a powerful life force that you don’t erase that just by dying. He’ll be part of us forever.” ### 

A Michael P. Baker Community Giving Fund has been set up to assist area families coping with catastrophic illness. The documentary film, “Mike Baker: Love, Friendship and Community,” by Caroline Pogust, sponsored by Susquehanna Life magazine, will be shown as a fundraiser for the fund, at The Campus Theatre, June 23, at 7 p.m. And contributions to the fund can be mailed to: The Michael P. Baker Community Giving Fund, PO Box 421, Lewisburg, PA 17837.

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