James and his wife Julie 2003 74 & 78
James Franklin Baker
  • 91 years old
  • Date of birth: Jan 1, 1925
  • Place of birth:
    Santa Rita, New Mexico, United States
  • Date of passing: Jun 15, 2016
  • Place of passing:
    Mill Valley, California, United States
I was born and lived in the most perfect time"

This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, James Baker, 91, born on January 1, 1925 and passed away on June 15, 2016. We will remember him forever.

James Franklin Baker, 91, died peacefully June 15, 2016 at Marin Terrace in Mill Valley, California.

He was born January 1, 1925, in Santa Rita, New Mexico of parents Martin E. Hubbard of Kansas and Ruby Lavonia Whelchel of New Mexico. He Served 4 years in the US Navy during World War II.

He grew up in Santa Rita, New Mexico, which may no longer be on the map. His father worked in the mines there at that time. His stepfather W.O. Baker was a locomotive engineer. He had a sister Oween. But James was always an avid reader and wanted to take another direction. with his life

 He was always interested in theatre and began it in an abandoned garage at the age of eleven.  His friend, “Betty Lou Boup (then 9 years old) wrote the productions, and he produced and directed them. They were a smash in the Great Depression. “Just like alfalfa and Mickey Rooney, door charge 3cents,coke was 5 cents a bottle, life was good…. still is”. He went to Wilmington High School in California and majored in Dramatic arts at Compton.

Mr. Bakers College education was interrupted by four years of Navel Service. Upon graduation from Compton, he started his professional career in 1947. He started his professional career as an actor-director-producer with a traveling tent show. In late 1947 Baker became a member of the Dennis Psychodrama tic Theater In New York. A year later he returned to LA to become a lighting technician for the Bard Playhouse. In 1948 Mr. Baker joined the staff of KLAC-TV in Los Angeles as assistant stage manager. Mr. Baker was then successfully promoted to stage manager, then assistant director. During this period Mr. Baker directed such well-known shows as “The Al Jarvis Show”, “Bill Anson Show”, and others.

 He left in in 1947 for opportunities in rapidly growing TV field. He was elevated to full directorship in 1951,taking over the direction of baseball, news, sports, and large studio productions. During this time, Mr. Baker was also Assistant Director for the closed circuit kinescope experiments production of the Mike Steiney and Arch Obler programs. Early in 1952, Mr. Baker moved to the American Broadcasting Company owned KGO-TV in San Francisco as a director, a position he held until he retired in 1989. He remained active in the American Contemporary Theater in San Francisco as the organizations “outside” director.

He served in the creation, direction, and production of programs. those with emphasis on sports and musical- variety, moonlighting writing commercials and doing voice over work. He enjoyed working with talent in their development of personality and direction.

He won many awards and honors, including those from the 1982-, 85 Clio Awards, the Houston International Film Festival, the National Academy of Television arts and sciences, the International film and TV Festival of New York, and many others.

He was married in 1948 and had two children.. He married again in 1963 to Julie Ketting, (whom this memorial is also dedicated to). Who are Daughter of Ogden Ketting, and Rosemarie Ames, who was a movie actress in the1930’s,one of them as playing the part of Shirley Temple"s mother.

 They had one child Adam Baker, and raised him together with his stepdaughter; Sandra Higbie nicknamed “Shash “ by him, or Sha Sha Higby who also was also mentored in the arts by James. In the 1990s they moved from San Francisco to Bonita Springs, and Orlando Florida to be near their son but missed the San Francisco Bay Area so much that they a moved back to San Francisco in 2002. His wife Julie Ketting Baker preceded Jim in death in 2008.

 He is survived by three children and three grandchildren: a daughter from his first marriage: Kimberley; and a son from his second marriage Adam Baker, an entrepreneur in Cost Rico, who has three children, and a stepdaughter from his second marriage: Sandra “Sha Sha” Higby, an artist in Bolinas, CA;

 In lieu of flowers if you would like to donate to a charity, please give to San Francisco Film Society http://www.documentary.org/donate .

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Patrick Wilkinson Sha Sha Higby on 26th September 2016

"It has been 100 days since Jims passing and I can feel a change.
Now it is time now to celebrate.
Here is from the memorial last month:

” You came upon me when I was a child and accepted all my strangeness and quirks. I enjoyed your precious company like my own father for 53 years.
I confided in you in secret from my mother.
You scolded me as though I was one of your own.
You encouraged me to use my hands and make stuff.
And as I was my mother’s child and I tried to console you after her death.
We were like each other because we could always talk about everything for hours
You were my mentor on a higher plane. An honorable caring man
How can I let you go, your words follow me where I go.
But you have now parted the ship and gone abroad into the greatest transformation.
Go on, go on, leave us, and do not look back. We will be fine.

And I will think often for your good fortune on your journey, as I remember the times our Lives touched. I can grasp this spark and hold it in a calm
You said you never believed in God or any creation myth that “others” could create.
You created your own
Which you did not disclose.
But you told me you admired the eyes of the falcon.
I will miss you
But you are everywhere
Pieces fluttering in the air
When I grope for your consolation
I will find confidence in the translucence all around us.
I have absorbed the delight of your presence for over half a century, as my Mum, Julie, did too.
Off you go the both of you together, so lucky to be free and have lived in each others Pockets together and in mine.”

Shash
September 25,2016"

This tribute was added by Mary Mitchel on 2nd September 2016

"Last night, September 1, 2016, some of us in the Bay Area gathered at a restaurant in Sausalito called Salito that, according to Sha Sha, had been a favorite of Jim's. Sha Sha, Albert, Patrick, Marilyn, Doug and I said good bye to this lovely man. Marilyn brought the champagne for toasting. Sha Sha brought photos and put on a small Indonesian 'cord cutting' ceremony to release his spirit from earthbound ties to the universe. We all shared memories.

I offered this little ode.

I miss dear old Jim, kinda family, kinda cousin
Never knew quite exactly what relation to call him.
He was caring, he was smart
Sometimes sweet, sometimes tart
He played many parts, did my relative Jim.

He loved beer, but ‘twas fattening, so he usually drank wine
No matter who with, he liked having a good time.
He was handsome, he was dapper
He liked telling old tales
Would not suffer fools, liked to flirt with the girls

He took great care of ShaSha, she so needed his love
Something her family was a little shy of
They were good pals, you know
He taught her to sew
Now that’s a stepfather a girl can be proud of

I’m sorry he’s gone, that he bonked his poor noggin.
The Panama Hotel’s not the same now he’s gonnin.
Sitting there in the patio
I’d ask what I wanted to know
Were it not up to me, he’d still be there talkin’.

Good bye dear old Jim. Say hello to them all
To Jules, my old Maggie, hope you’re having a ball.
We toast you down here.
Can you hear us all cheer.
You had fun. You were loved. What else counts after all?

With all my love, Mary"

This tribute was added by Susan & Lou Matusiak on 28th July 2016

"SUCH a treasure this man was!  It's so special to be able to hear that wonderful voice again! Thanks, Patrick!
We were blessed to have had Jim in our lives as our youngest daughter Megan and Jim's son Adam are soulmates for life. We first met Jim in Costa Rica where Megan and Adam live with two of our grandchildren. From that point on we enjoyed our visits with him, including a time he spent a few days in our AZ home. I have added some photos of Jim which bring back fond memories.
One thing I know for sure is Jim loved his family. I wish we'd been able to meet Julie, but I feel we know her a little bit through the stories we've heard. Their love is a legacy they leave to their family.
We will miss you, Jim, and know you and your beloved Julie are once again together....forever!
With love,
Susan & Lou"

This tribute was added by Kathy Wilkinson on 27th July 2016

"Julie, my cousin, and Jim lived only minutes away from me in the Bay Area, but I was not aware of this until 1988 when my cousin Mary told me that I should definitely meet Julie and Jim Baker, that I would really enjoy them. What an understatement that turned out to be. I went to their house in Tiberon to meet and have lunch, and it felt like we had known each other our entire lives. There was just something specail that connected between us. And, our lives would then continue to intersect for the next many years.

As Julie and Jim moved East to the Chicago area for a year while their new house in Florida was being build, our family also moved to the Chicago suburbs for two years. We got together with J and J regularly, and I was able to see the farm in Libertyville where Julie grew up.

When they moved to Florida, we moved to CT and I would visit them in Bonita Springs every winter for a week. We talked and laughed the time away. And we invited them to use our cabin in Maine in July when it was very hot in FL and we were not in residence in the cabin.

Jim and Julie fell in love with Boothbay Harbor and bought the cutest cottage near the water. And thus began our summers spent together from 1996-2006, when they sold their cottage. We had more fun fixing up our Maine homes, scouring the antique shops, searching for the best lobster rolls.(I have posted one of my favorite pictures of Jim, or rather, the back of Jim. It was the first summer in their Maine cottage and Jim borrowed my old stool and set the Belgian blocks to create a delineated driveway to the house.) I still walk my dog past that cottage all summer long, and I look at the house and the blocks of the driveway and miss Jim and Julie. They were very dear to me and to my family. We had a special relationship which brings me many moments of happiness (and sadness) when I think about the experiences we shared. I will never know anyone quite as special and Jim and Julie.
P.S. Although a tribute to Jim,  I realize that I seem to refer to Julie and Jim as if they were one entity. Difficult to think about one without thinking about the other: As Jules used to say, "we live in each others pockets."  I just know that I loved them both."

This tribute was added by Patrick Wilkinson Sha Sha Higby on 26th July 2016

"Dear Sha Sha and Adam

I am very sorry to hear that Jim is gone. I had a feeling for the past couple of weeks that this was about to happen. I always knew him to be a very proud and independent person. I am sure his diminished state was very difficult for him to bear.

You may not know that Jim, Julie and my parents were longtime friends. My father set up a visit with Jim when I was trying to start my career in television. Jim’s guidance put me on a good path to get my first job in Butte Montana, and I would turn to him from time to time for support. I especially remember his advice when I lost my job in Butte. He said, “That guy will still be in Butte ten years from now and you will be in a much better place.” He was absolutely right. Within 5 years of that low point, I was working at KGO and working with Jim on many projects. Some of my favorite memories are times that Jim and I worked together on promotion spots. He had a great way of working with talent and keeping me in line. As he once said, “It’s your spot, Doogie. If you want to fuck it up, go right ahead!” It was said with a twinkle in his eye, a smile and great affection.

We had a great working relationship and our relationship continued outside of work. My  wife and I would visit with Jim and Julie in Tiburon, in Florida and in the city. He would give me advice on life, I would offer advice on his computer and we would just enjoy the company.

As I write this, I have a tiny model airplane in front of me with “40” painted on the tail. He gave it to me at my 40th surprise birthday party. However, the big surprise was that Jim and Julie came to the party a month early!! My wife had sent out the invitations in mid-April for my May 30th party. And on April 30th, they came walking down to my houseboat in Sausalito. Jim did his best to cover his tracks, but no luck!

As important as Jim was in my life, you should know that both of you were very much a source of pride for him. I would always hear of Sha Sha’s latest adventures and events. And Jim got a great kick out of how Adam would create one new business after another…seemingly out of thin-air…powered by his energy and wit. I smile thinking about the stories.

I will always miss Jim and Julie, but they will stay alive in my heart with the many, many fond memories that will stay with me as long as I live.

Wishing you both peace and love as you mourn the passing of one of my favorite people.

Love,
Doug"

This tribute was added by Patrick Wilkinson Sha Sha Higby on 23rd July 2016

"Yes you said it right,Marilyn ,he was my own private philosopher,we could talk about art,and life,and death,and how to approach  all different things. We  talked for hours. I had to come to get my fix. My favorite time was in this dinette  of he motel on a trip where we got a two for one senior special for $3. You were glowing ,We talked all evening at that place."

This tribute was added by Marilyn Nichols on 22nd July 2016

"I didn't know Jim & Julie well.  They were charming acquaintances -- nice neighbors whom I dined with from time to time.  Nevertheless, what was always obvious was the beauty of their closeness & love.  It was especially apparent during Julie's long & painful illness and death.  Jim was by her side every day.  

By luck, as we picked up our mail one day, he and I started talking about a movie I'd just seen.  As a retired director, he always had interesting view points.  As we were talking, I can honestly say I saw him light up, as if in a comic book -- a light bulb going off over his head.  He asked if I would accompany him to Director's Guiild screenings.  The deal was, I would drive, since his macular degeneration meant he couldn't drive at night; but bonus! -- I'd get to see first run movies for free.

It was the start of what became a real friendship built on hours of discussing movies, their messages, their mechanics and their truths. In the way of all art, they provided a way to examine human lives and motivations, our own included.  His insights were always objective but compassionate.

There are few people with whom one can talk philosophy -- why we're here and how to be here.  I will always value what we explored together.  It was a privilege to know him & share a bit of life with him.  Like all treasured friends, he remains alive in my memories.  What a wonderful legacy.  Thanks, Jim."

This tribute was added by Kimberly Baker on 8th July 2016

"This was a pleasant supersize!

I remember when Dad was visiting me,  and he had mentioned, a young enthusiastic man,  who wanted to interview him.  Jim (Dad) said how much he enjoyed, and looked forward to there meetings once a week..............That was Patrick Wilkinson, I assume, that was you Patrick?

He said he didn't know where these ....ie....interviews, memories would go, but as I can see now, they fill my heart, and sure many others.

I remember being very young and he had to take care of my brother Curtis and I..... and, ............. Babysit?  My Mother was doing live commercials then.

Well, that was out of the question!

So he packed us up and took us to work with him.  KGO San Francisco.

Put us in an editing room, or more like a closet at the studio.  Set up a projector, Old 35 mil,  and played Lon Chaney movies for us. It was so scary!

Every now and then, someone would come around, and drop off a couple  of ice cold cokes for us to guzzle down.....what a treat!

Dad, James Franklin Baker, my Dad was a great father, and I will miss him terribly.  Already do.

Many thanks to my family, Adam Baker,  and Sha Sha Higby and lovely memories from Patrick Wilkinson.

Your the best.

Kimberly Baker"

This tribute was added by patrick wilkinson on 7th July 2016

"Jim was such a kind, intelligent, human. A thoughtful friend, and a gifted mentor.  Talented with words and expressions a like, he touched many people (not just artists) and helped them to live a life of passion and purpose.

I've known Jim and Julie since the age of ten, and luckily when I moved west to San Francisco in 2010,  Jim and I began our standing Sunday lunch, and it was always a highlight of my week to spend the afternoon with Baker, listening to him tell the most interesting stories about San Francisco and the world and times I never knew.

Jim's technical knowledge of television production never ceased to amaze me. Two years ago, as I embarked on a film project, Jim generously and eagerly shared his expertise down to every detail of the set. His knowledge was like that, vast on both a creative and technical level. And he was always sharing and mentoring with such warmth and compassion - qualities which were a big part of his life.

In early May Jim and I visited Mill Valley for some sun and a coffee; Like always, he was really excited to see people out in the world and interact with them. Jim never mourned for the past, but eagerly embraced so much change in his lifetime, and I really admire that quality in him.

San Francisco, and Earth will never be quite the same now that Jim has passed, but I'm sure he and Julie are together again and I'm excited to hear other individual's share their fondest memories of Jim so we can celebrate this great man's life!"

This tribute was added by Patrick Wilkinson Sha Sha Higby on 7th July 2016

"Jim,I know you probably didn't want to go global here,but Patrick, whom you mentored ,wanted to finish the project he started with you of your stories. The overall feeling is that we wanted to celebrate your life. And Mum’s life too,and help release you. If anyone knows more and wants to add info,plese let us know

I remember when my Mum fell in love with you; she was finally at peace and confident. Since then you have been in my life to selflessly confer, console, inspire, and encourage in the arts for over 50 years.
Always I had you to share my stories, always a delightful interchange. I feel you tear from my body, but I feel you. I fell in love with you because you were the opposite of me and you gave me attention.  
Now I will have to do without you.
Ode to you Jimmie, my life has been blessed because I have had you in it. I celebrate your life and my own.
There is a yellow star in the sky tonight very large. Maybe you are with Julie and all around."


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Patrick Wilkinson Sha Sha Higby

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