Cassville community leader dies

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Truman Baker

Cassville community leader and long-time banker Truman Baker died on July 31. Baker was a member of the local banking industry for over 25 years and served as Freedom Bank Board chairman after his retirement.

"Truman is one of the finest men I have ever been associated with in business, but more importantly as a friend and a mentor," said Stan Kelley, Freedom Bank president. "He was a genuinely good person, and he has been a great benefactor to the community over his lifetime.

"He loved people, and he wanted to see other people succeed in life," said Kelley. "His greatest asset was that he got great enjoyment out of helping others succeed."

Baker, a graduate of Cassville High School, attended State Teacher's College in Springfield for a short time, and then, worked for the utility company in Cassville. At that time, he rented a room at the Bayless House, and his roommate was a Cassville teacher named John Q. Hammons. The men remained friends throughout their lives.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Baker applied for navigator training in the Army Air Corps. On Jan. 1, 1943, he was called to active duty and joined a troop train bound for a training site in Santa Ana, Calif. His first experience there was attending a physical conditioning class conducted by New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio. He served in the military until 1947.

Baker later operated The Corner Store, which was located where Willis Insurance is now. The business also served as the local bus stop for the area.

In 1954, Baker entered the banking industry and worked his way up to president of Boatman's Bank, now known as Bank of America. He retired in 1980 and accepted his board position at Freedom Bank. Baker also developed Sunset Heights in Cassville.

"Truman was a very integral part of the development and growth of the city of Cassville and Barry County," said Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner. "His influence on the financial business community was very important to a lot of people and a lot of lives in Cassville and the surrounding community.

"Truman really loved life and enjoyed it to the fullest," said Warren. "He was very active in the community, and he was a very good friend."

Baker was the instigator of the Cassville Little League Baseball program, and coached the Blues baseball team. He also started the first sand greens golf course in Cassville and was instrumental in building the current Cassville Golf Course.

The oldest Rotarian in Barry County, Baker was a member of the Cassville Rotary Club for many years. He also served as Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce president.

A complete obituary appears on page 17 of this week's newspaper.

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