Leland Darel Baker, son of Edgar M. Baker and Mary Loretta (Morrison) Baker, was born March 27, 1929, at Gladden, Shannon County, Mo. His grandparents were G. Edward Morrison and Laura (Redwine) Morrison and William H. Baker and Eda Cordelia (Adams) Baker.
Darel was taken ill suddenly on Nov. 26, 2010, at his home on County Rd. 5460 Rolla, Mo., and passed away at University Medical Center, Columbia, Mo.
On June 12, 1954, he was married to Melba Allen of Summersville, Mo., at Shannondale Community Church by the Rev. Vincent W. Bucher. He and Melba made their home at Columbia, Mo., where Darel was a junior at University of Missouri School of Agriculture.
In 1956, they moved to Summersville, Mo., where Darel began teaching Vocational Agriculture and Forestry Management.
In 1958, he joined the staff of University of Missouri Extension Service at Houston, Mo., Texas County.
For the ensuing nine years, he was Assistant Director and Balanced Farming Agent at Houston. In 1965 until 1970, he became Director of Extension Service at Potosi, Mo., Washington County.
In 1970, he resigned his position at Potosi to return to Houston, where he taught Junior High Math for Houston Schools. In 1973, after removal of a Cerebellar brain tumor, Darel spent the next years in rehabilitation at their farm in Raymondville, Mo.
In 1980, he returned to teaching Veteran’s night classes and high school Agriculture and Forestry classes at Houston High School. He had to take early retirement in 1982 and then built a greenhouse and shop, where he did small engine repairs. He raised sheep for training his Border Collies to learn herding techniques.
In 1999, he moved to the present home at Rolla, Mo., where he happily continued raising his beloved border collies, sharing gardening tips and competition with his next door neighbor, Marie Huffman, and Purple Martin information with neighbor, Keith Davis. Neighbor Mike Bryant welcomed Darel to the neighborhood when he anonymously graded the driveway after a big snowstorm the next year after moving to 5460.
Darel and Gene Watson managed the hay harvesting each year without too much arguing. Darel was overjoyed to find that another neighbor, Gale Huffman, provided him with his second-most loved hobby, attending auctions, where he and his friend, Bob North, looked for bargains.
Neighbor Pat Emott hurried over one cold night to rescue Darel when one of his projects left him imprisoned among big hay bales in the barn.
In remembering each of these good friends, Darel would always say, “If I had looked all over Phelps County, I couldn’t have found better friends and neighbors. We have been so blessed.”
Darel is survived by his wife, Melba of the home; his son, Steven and wife, Denice, of Houston, Texas; a daughter, Diana Howerton and husband, Chris, of Rolla; grandchildren, Sara Miller, Nick and Clay Howerton and Shannon, Shauna, and Derek Baker; eight great-grandchildren; a brother, James “Buck” Baker of Dallas, Texas; and two sisters, Jimmalee Major and husband, Jim, and Mary Lou Belsass and husband, Bob, of Ellensburg, Wash.
Services for Leland Darel Baker were 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 29, at James & Gahr Mortuary in Rolla with Pastor Chuck Cook officiating. Burial followed at Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery south of Salem, Mo.
Memorials are suggested to the Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery Building Fund. Cards are available at all James & Gahr locations.
Arrangements are under the direction of James & Gahr Mortuary of Rolla.
Online condolences may be left by visiting www.jamesgahrmortuary.com.