James Henry Baker passed away Monday, July 19, 2021 in his home from complications related to his emphysema. In hospice care for over two years prior to his death, James died peacefully in his sleep. James is survived by his wife Hilda; daughter MornaLee Vaughn; son David Allan (Rebecca) Baker; granddaughters Brandi Rae (Jane) Baker, Jennifer Lynn (Joshua) Babel, Shondra Nicole Pierce, Jessica Danielle (Bob) Patterson and Kristin Danielle Baker; grandsons Justin Charles Thelander, James William Thelander, Matthew St. James McLain and David Ryan (Kristina) Baker; and five great-grandchildren, Kaelyn Elizabeth Babel, Mackenzie Grace Babel, Kylie Irene Babel, Caden Vaughn Patterson and Sebastian Michael Sky Pierce.
James is preceded in death by his parents, John and Catherine, two brothers Donald and Allan, his son-in-law Melvin Vaughn and his youngest daughter, Jamie Irene Baker, who died in 1999 at the age of 36. James was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on Oct. 8, 1929. He was raised in England as the oldest of four sons, one of whom died shortly after birth and the other at 12 years old. James remained in England until he was 18, when he traveled back to Canada, meeting the love of his life, Hilda Audrey Murdock. The two married in Canada in 1952 and later welcomed their first child, MornaLee, and then David Allan. The couple moved their family to the United States in 1959, where they settled in Arizona. The family grew in Maryvale, with the arrival of their daughter Jamie Irene. James worked as a brick mason in Phoenix for most of his career. He and Hilda were active members of The Walther League at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church as they raised their children. James loved to play golf, and was pretty good, earning a couple of Hole-In-One awards. He loved to travel the summers with Hilda in their RV, often traveling with family and friends. If there was a song playing, he could be found grabbing Hilda’s hand, creating a dance floor wherever he was; he was a beautiful dancer. James had a great sense of humor and was always sharing the latest joke he’d heard or repeated one he’d already told with just as much enthusiasm in his unique sounding British-Canadian accent. In his later years, James and Hilda were able to move up to Top-of-the-World in 2008, eventually living within walking distance to both of his remaining children and his last church, Spirit of Truth. This made him especially happy, as he enjoyed attending church with his family. James always made himself available to help with any situation that might arise, from a minor or major emergency, to a DIY project, visiting a sick neighbor, or just to play a game of cards; James was always ready, willing, and able to help anyone in need. Services will be held Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 at 3 p.m., at Spirit of Truth 51345 North Apple Valley Road, Miami, Arizona (Top-of-the-World). A Celebration of Life will be held at a family home nearby immediately following the service.