DONOR STORY

The Spirit of Generosity

Bill Baker

Bill Baker ’68 in his senior yearbook photo.

On a blistering hot August afternoon in 1964, William “Bill” Baker ’68 stepped off the train with several of his new classmates in rural Dade City, FL, to start their journey at Saint Leo College. Little did he know that this would be the place where he would gain valuable knowledge and experience, make lifelong friends, and meet his wife, Lorraine.

Today, Bill is grateful for the education he received at Saint Leo, and in return, chooses to give back to the university, providing scholarship funds to deserving students.

Bill and his classmates will celebrate their 50-year class reunion this November, bringing together a group of former students who felt like they grew up together. Seeing how the campus has changed, Bill has fond memories of the days where he and his classmates had to make their own fun. The faculty and staff of the college made each student feel like more than just a number. Reflecting back to one of his most challenging college experiences, Bill recalls an assignment given to him by Dr. James Horgan. This assignment challenged Bill to do his own research, think critically, and develop his own opinions. Applying these skills has helped Bill to stay above the fray and exceed in tough situations throughout his life.

Bill Baker Fraternity group shot

Bill Baker with his fraternity (bottom row, second to the right, kneeling).

Those who have had the pleasure of working with Bill would describe him as a leader who is passionate about service, generosity, and education. Bill gave 40 years of his life in public service which took him all over the globe, where his talent and expertise developed further.

Bill Baker Commander’s Award for Civilian Service

Bill Baker received the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service.

After graduation, Bill joined the U.S. Army where he served in Vietnam, receiving a Purple Heart, and was medically retired as a captain. Bill then became a stockbroker in Palm Beach, FL. While the economy struggled in the early ’70s, Bill decided to advance his career by studying for graduate school while working for Marriott Hotels. He then took a position with the government that brought him from the submarine base in New London all the way to Germany, where he spent 13 years overseeing revenue-producing businesses owned and operated by the Army. From there he moved to Texas, where he had the pleasure of meeting many Saint Leo alumni, forming bonds over their shared experience. While at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, Bill served as Director of Fleet and Family Support, serving a large number of people living on base, streamlining services and helping to improve the overall quality of life for service members and their families. In 1998, Bill received the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, honoring his years of leadership and service to members of the armed forces and their families.

Bill Baker

William “Bill” Baker ’68

Even after a long career in public service, Bill’s passions remain the same as he continues to look for new ways to share his experiences and give back some of what he has been blessed to earn. Bill believes that “education can move people out of tough situations.” With this in mind, Bill established the Lorraine White Baker ’69 Endowed Scholarship, honoring his late wife, providing funds to individuals who have demonstrated financial need and are pursuing degrees in education or religion. In addition to this, Bill established the Baker Family Endowed Scholarship, which supports active duty military, veterans, and first responders. Bill chose to fund these scholarships by making annual gifts and by including Saint Leo University in his estate plans through a bequest. These scholarships help students achieve their goals while relieving some of their financial burden.

Bill gets such a joy from knowing he’s helping single mothers, struggling families, and other deserving recipients of the scholarships he’s funded.

“Every time I give to Saint Leo, I get paid back in different ways,” Bill said.

Bill’s reward is seeing students finish their degrees and take their talents into the real world. That spirit of generosity passes from those who give to those who receive, inspiring the recipients to make the most out of the opportunity they’ve been given. Every little bit can make a big impact on someone’s life.

You, too, can honor yourself or a loved one by making a memorial gift to Saint Leo University. To learn how you can make a similar impact, contact Director of Planned Giving Stephen Kubasek, DBA, at (352) 588-8355 or by email at stephen.kubasek@saintleo.edu. We can provide you with some valuable information about giving through your estate plan and help you fulfill your philanthropic wishes.

 

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