Vivian Baker, Former Harvey Mudd College First Lady, Dies

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Vivian C. Baker of Ithaca, New York, wife of Harvey Mudd College’s second president David Kenneth Baker (1976–1988), passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, at age 90.

Vivian served alongside Kenneth for more than a decade, supporting the activities of the College. In a letter detailing the time the couple spent on the Harvey Mudd campus, Kenneth wrote, “Vivian and I spent 12 happy and productive years as tenants in … the President’s House … [where] we lived and entertained guests of the College. Vivian often shared the kitchen with students who used it to prepare cookies and cakes for dorm parties. We found that their presence added much to the life and joy in the house. We also invited students to use the piano and, much to our enjoyment, some very talented students accepted the invitation. Students reciprocated each Christmas season with an annual mini-concert of Christmas carols enthusiastically offered at our front door. … After the opening of the first semester, we enjoyed inviting members of the faculty and administrative staff to the annual Back to School Party … It was a very pleasant tradition.

“Undoubtedly, the most notable student escapade during our time in the house was the sudden appearance immediately beyond our garden wall of the Caltech cannon in 1986.”

Vivian and Kenneth Baker

Vivian and Kenneth Baker

The Bakers made many lifetime friends while living in Claremont, and greatly enjoyed their years spent at Harvey Mudd. After retiring to North Carolina, they continued these friendships, golfing into their 80s. Most summers during their years together were spent in Michigan, where Vivian was a lifelong member of the Crystal Downs Country Club and Congregational Summer Assembly. The Michigan camp was a place where many happy years were spent with grandchildren and family.

Vivian was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, on July 14, 1924, a daughter of the late Cecil and Florette (Jutras) Perry. In addition to her parents, Vivian was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, David Kenneth Baker in 2012; son, Paul Baker, grandson, Ian Baker; sisters, Beverly (Norm) Willis and Lea (Robert) Winegard; stepsister, Pat (Will) Martin; and a stepbrother, Richard (Pat) Hemsworth. She is survived by a son, Rick (Kathy) Baker of Trumansburg; two grandsons, Jacob Baker of Ithaca and Nathan Baker of Trumansburg, New York; and a stepbrother, Robert (Pat) Hemsworth of Richmond, Virginia.