GUILDERLAND —Thomas E. Baker, 92, formerly of Seneca Falls, NY, died peacefully on Monday, September 28, 2020 at his home at Atria Guilderland. He was a music teacher, active volunteer, friend, and faithful follower of Christ.
Tom was born June 19, 1928, the 12th of 14 children, many not surviving childhood, born to William and Belinda Mary (Ford) Baker in Waterloo, NY. He is survived by his brother, Charles (Chuck) Baker, his nephews, Martin Knapp and Gregory Knapp, his cousin, Mary Beth Stowell, and countless friends who became family.
Tom’s childhood home of Seneca Falls was the model for Bedford Falls in the Christmas classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life, and he believed he lived a wonderful life. His musical family attended Catholic Church masses in the closely-knit town where he played in school bands and in Wayne Guy’s Orchestra dance band. He graduated from Mynderse Academy in 1948.
Tom received a bachelor’s degree in Arts from Fredonia State Teachers College in 1950, and a master’s degree in 1952. He was drafted into the Army, where he spent a year in Texas as a French horn musician in the 1st Army Division Band before being sent to Okinawa, Japan.
He became a music teacher in the Voorheesville Central School District in 1953, first in all grade levels and then in the elementary school, until retiring in 1983. He taught band and vocal groups and directed school musical performances. Students and parents often reminisced with him. Tom was an avid downhill skier known for his love of snow days.
Tom was a member of the Board of Directors and Secretary of the Men’s Garden Club of Albany, where he co-organized and taught two decades of weekly indoor hands-on gardening classes for adults and children at the Center for Disability Services in Albany.
For 21 years he taught Red Cross adult swimming classes at SUNY Albany. He assisted patients attending church services at Our Lady of Mercy nursing home from 1985-2019. He also sang many years in the Albany area Festival Chorus, a joint ecumenical choir of 40 choirs. In 2018, he won the Annual Senior Lifetime Achievement Award for his extensive community volunteerism.
He was a lay minister at Christ the King, Guilderland, where he was an enthusiastic weekly greeter at two worship services, a Garden Committee member, Bereavement Committee choir member, and visitation minister. He also attained the Third Degree in Knights of Columbus at Christ the King, where his many communities appreciated his warmth and cheerful spirit.
Tom would like to thank his many friends, especially Greg and Diane Stevens, Russ and Maria Greenman, Christ the King visitation ministers, and the staff at Atria Guilderland for their continued love and support. All made his life exceptionally wonderful.
Viewing hours are Saturday, October 3, 10-11 a.m. at Christ the King Church, 20 Sumter Ave., Albany. Mass of Christian Burial is at 11 a.m. Interment at St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Geneva, will follow at 3 p.m. Saturday. Masks and social distancing are required.
Donations in Tom’s memory may be made to Men’s Garden Club of Albany, 25 Worthman Lane, Rensselaer, NY 12144. To leave a message of condolence for Tom’s family and friends, please visit www.HansFuneralHome.com .
Click here to view Tom’s resting place in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Geneva, New York 14456.
Stephanie Reh Garde
Mr. Baker was my music teacher at Voorheesville Elementary school. His foundation led to my love of music to this day. I can still remember the songs we sang- Senor Don Gato sticks in my head and won’t leave! I found my life partner through music (marching band) and now have children who always have music in their lives. Mr. Baker’s life impacted many. My thoughts and best wishes are with you during this time.
We are so very sorry for your loss. I knew Tom from Voorheesville schools and his long friendship with Cindy. He was well loved.
Shannon York Bastiani
Mr. Baker left a lifelong impression on me from music class at Voorheesville Elementary. I also recall seeing him at the Western Diner often. So sorry to hear of his passing. My thoughts are with his family and friends.
Elizabeth Van Nest
Truly a modern-day “Renaissance Man,” Tom brought avid interest and equal dedication to all of the many activities and endeavors in which he participated throughout his “wonderful life.” Ever a friend with a kind word and outstretched hand, he was inquisitive and engaged in all he did. Possessing many talents, he applied them diligently and devotedly without fail. He will be missed, and also remembered, by so many. To his friends and family, I offer deepest sympathy at his passing from among us, and may God bless each one at this time of remembrance and in the days to come.
Please check the face book page “ If you graduated from VCHS or live in Voorheesville or Town of New Scotland”. Tom’s obituary is posted there. Many of his former students have left messages.
Tom was an amazing human. Funny and caring. The guys at the Center for Disability Services really enjoyed spending time with him. Tom will be missed.
Love to all of his family.
Thank you for being a wonderful music teacher, Mr. Baker. I still remember many of the great songs you taught us. And thank you for the kind friendship you showed my grandparents, Frank and Marie Toritto in their later years. They will be happy to see you again.
Jen Toritto Leonardo
Tom was a wonderful, faithful member of Christ The King’s Garden Ministry and he will be greatly missed. He loved to take two cookies, and only ever two, after he worked in the garden. Our condolences to Tom’s family and many friends. He was truly a gift to all of us!
Cenzi Brynolfson for Festival Celebration Choir
Condolences and love are sent to Tom’s family and friends, on behalf of the Festival Celebration Choir, where Tom was one of our wonderful Tenors for many years. He also served on the board and was ever-willing to help his fellow choir members. His smile, kindness, love of music and determination to serve will always be remembered by all of us!
I was sad to read of Tom’s passing. We taught together at Voorheesville Elementary School many years ago. Tom had a rich, full life and enjoyed many volunteer activities. He was always busy helping others.
Tom will be missed.
My wife and I reconnected with Tom at Christ the King Church when we moved to Albany from Seneca Falls . It was always a pleasure to see Tom . We will keep him in our prayers….Leo & Georgia Connolly
At Mass at Christ the King today, Tom’s fellow parishioners recalled his warm, friendly greetings as he handed out worships aids. Some remembered his contributions to the garden committee, others his love for music and singing in the choirs. Tom lives on in the sweet memories of all who met him. I am thankful to have many of my own.
I taught with Tom at Voorheesville Elementary, many years right next to his music room. While we all loved the sounds coming from his room, probably the noisy sounds coming from my kindergarteners were not as welcome drifting into his room and interrupting his classes. Never the less, he was always kind and caring to his next door
“neighbors “! He amazed me with the many volunteer activities in the community and beyond after retirement and it was wonderful that he was always at retiree luncheons , sharing his experiences. “Mourning is human, remembering devine”… So many have special memories of Tom. What an outstanding life he had. Blessings to his family and friends at this time.