This week, the community of Cassville lost one of its biggest benefactors. Truman Baker died on Sunday morning after living a rich and full life that involved supporting the community he grew up in and providing encouragement to anyone who was lucky enough to cross his path. When Mike and I moved to Cassville in 1986, Truman was among the first to welcome us. He was a long-time family friend and always made it a point to make me, an outsider, feel like I could find my place in Cassville. When my boys were around 4 and 6, we moved to Baker Lane (named after Truman) and became Truman's neighbors. For the past 18 years or so, we have enjoyed seeing Truman out on his tractor, in his pickup truck or in his yard on an almost daily basis. He always gave us a big wave and smile, and during the last few years when we stopped to say hi, he never failed to ask for an update on the boys and often reminisced about watching the two blonde-headed brothers riding their bikes past his house on their way to Grandma Judy and Grandpa Gene's house. Those are the personal memories of Truman that we'll always treasure, and I know my family is just one of hundreds that Truman impacted with his warmth, sincere interest and encouraging spirit.
Truman made a huge difference in the life of Cassville through his business input as a local banker and his dedicated involvement in community organizations like the Cassville Rotary Club and the Cassville Chamber of Commerce. The Cassville High School graduate and avid Wildcat fan was also a huge supporter of the Cassville R-4 School District and all of its programs. He didn't miss a football game, home or away, and was also a frequent spectator at basketball games and school concerts. It seemed like I didn't go to a community event where I didn't see Truman. And for a newspaper editor and reporter, who has covered hundreds of community events over the past 20-plus years, that is a true testament to Truman's support for all things Cassville.
Over the past several days, I have had the opportunity to speak to a number of people about Truman, and some of the most common adjectives used to describe this great man are positive, supportive, gracious, generous, wonderful, friendly and charitable. On the Cassville Wildcats Facebook page, John Anglum, a former Cassville resident and banking colleague of Truman's, referred to his friend as "a promoter of all that was good," and I really like that. Truman looked for good in others and then did everything he could to help individuals, organizations and the community as a whole succeed. He was known for offering wise advice and for supporting anything that he thought would benefit Cassville and its citizens. He was one of those individuals who believed it was his role in life to give back to others out of the overflow of all that he had been given. And that bounty of goodwill seemed endless.
I speak on behalf of myself, Mike, my family, the entire Schlichtman family and countless others in the Cassville community when I say "we loved you Truman. Thank you for giving of yourself, your time and your talents to make Cassville a better place to live for all of us. Your legacy lives on in the strength of the underlying goodness of this community that you loved so much. May we be inspired to follow your shining example of tireless support, encouragement and that unflagging desire to give back to make life better for those around you." You will be greatly missed.