Passing of Past Chief & Life Member, Tomy Baker
THOMAS PAUL ( Tomy ) BAKER was born on 10/13/42 to Paul and Ivadell Baker. Tomy spent his early childhood on Cherokee St before his parents settled on Cree Ln. His father was a member for several years at Branchville and could always be found with his camera at his side. Paul loved taking pictures – particularly relating to fire incidents – the annual ff convention, convention delegates in both Frederick and Ocean City. Paul resided in College Park until his death.
Ivadell Baker was an active member of the ladies’ auxiliary and one of several ladies who, during WWII, banded together, mastered operating a fire hose while they filled-in during those desperate years while the men were called to serve their Country. Ivadell continued her activities and support of the Department for many years after Paul’s passing, remaining in residence in College Park.
Firefighting was in Tomy’s blood
Tomy joined Branchville in 1962. In short order, he mastered the various disciplines and became an ambulance driver, engine driver and line officer. In the late 60’s into the early 70’s, Tomy worked at the Hillandale Vol Fire Co. as a paid firefighter. In 1972, Tomy was elected chief at Branchville, a position he held for 2 years. He continued to serve the company after his term ended and eventually met the love of his life: Ahlonda. They married and were very much in love until Ahlonda’s passing on May 20th, 2022.
Tomy was a loving father, stepfather – and had one stepson – and grandfather. His adopted daughter, Marjorie, had 3 children; son Yancy had 3 children and 6 grandchildren; and, daughter Tammy had 2 children and 5 grandchildren. His youngest son, Sean, did not have children.
Nothing pleased Tomy more than his visits back to Branchville from his adopted home of Sarasota, FL. His last such visit was this past April, where upon he dragged out his dress uniform and graced our 98th annual banquet in full regalia. It was an especially festive event this year as Tomy was being recognized for his 60th anniversary as well as the 50th anniversary of his being elected chief. Tomy was in his absolute glory being with those he loved – young and old – at the Company banquet. And they all loved him.
But there was much more to Tomy than just the fire station. In 1998, Tomy founded the National Red Helmet Ride, in honor of all in the fire service who gave their lives in the Line-of-Duty. This year marks the 24th year of the ride to the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This annual event is in conjunction with the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation (NFFF).
In 2002, Tomy became a charter member of the Red Knights International Motorcycle Club, Maryland Chapter 1. This year the Red Knights will celebrate their 20th year by hosting a picnic for all former and current members. Of course, the festivities will begin with everyone raising a cold Coors Light – as Tomy certainly would have wanted.
He wasn’t done yet. In 2006, Tomy was instrumental in bringing Wreaths Across America to Branchville. Then and for several years thereafter, the tractor-trailers full of wreaths would stop by our station, the drivers and crews fed and the rigs washed, before the caravan finished their trek to Arlington National Cemetery.
Thomas Paul Baker loved life; he loved the fire service and he loved motorcycles and the way that both came together – especially each October at the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial.
Tomy was loved by all who knew him and most certainly will be missed by all.
Memorial Service shall be upstairs (in the hall) Saturday, Sept 10th, 1:00pm
All are invited to attend