Cover photo for Phillip Samuel Baker's Obituary
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1954 Phillip 2021

Phillip Samuel Baker

October 11, 1954 — January 12, 2021

On October 11, 1954, with the family living in Irving, TX, Rosie Baker gave birth to her first son. She and her husband Phillip, named him Phillip Samuel Baker, for his father. From that moment on, every stop on Sam’s road seems to have been marked by a new set of wheels, and his big heart. Stop 1: From the beginning, Sam understood intuitively how things worked. There’s tell that he even sorted out how to rig the lawnmower, so that only he could use it, when he was barely 9 years old. His childhood was filled with adventure, building forts in the woods, and dragging home treasures (including, notably, a retired torpedo, a motorcycle, and an old car). Their crew dominated the neighborhood, both at home, and at their lake house in Grapevine, TX. Sometimes, the kids could get carried away in their escapades, but Sam was always the conscience of the group, insisting on honesty and doing the right thing even if it led to the dreaded disappointing look from Mother. Stop 2: Sam was born to work. He took his first job at 12, when he hopped on his bike and ran a paper route. By the time he finished high school, he’d scooped ice cream at Baskin Robbins, operated the Six Flags LeSalle River Boat Adventure Ride, worked at the tire shop and mentored under Joe Burch rebuilding Corvairs. Sam got his first beat up Corvairs at 15, and by the time he turned 16, he had pieced them together into his dream car just in time to get his driver’s license. Many years later he’d track down that very car and rebuild it again. Stop 3: One day while out riding Motorcycles in the river bottoms with Cindy Bivens, 16 year old Donna Moncrief rolled up in her Mustang wearing her “daisy dukes”. As soon as she was legal they married, and their son Bo (Phillip Samuel Baker, Jr) followed. The trio stayed in Irving and took on life together. Stop 4: In the mid-70’s Sam and his mother started Baker’s A-Z Pawn Shop together. Over the years pretty much the entire family worked at the Pawn Shop, but Sammy was its soul. He led the business with his heart and never let making a dollar outweigh a chance to help someone who needed it. Being in the shop also gave him time to connect with his friends and make music, playing guitars between every deal. Each week, for decades, he would join Kelly Cutler and the boys for their Mann Jamm. And at every holiday he played in the Fam Jam Band, featuring Phillip and Laurie on Mandolin, Sammy and Danny on guitar, Cathey and the crew on vocals, with Rosie and the rest of the girls wiggling in the background. Stop 5: For years, Sam raced the Texas Cross-Country Racing Association Motorcycle Circuit, wearing the number 1 as the top racer in the state, beating out men half his age for the title, and eventually winning the highest honor of the sport, The Len Rossman Award. His speed and agility passed on to his son and in 1993 both men won the titles for their age groups. Donna was their pit crew. The team would suit up their RV each weekend and make the journey to race. At the start and end of every race, Donna was there with clean clothes, and a hot meal, taking care of her boys. Eventually his need for speed transferred over to speed boats and bicycles. Whatever he did, he did it fast, fearlessly and full out. Stop 6: In his later years Sam returned his focus to cars. In fact, he bought back the old Corvair that had been his first car (and quite possibly his first love). He restored her to mint condition, and put everything into restoring Corvairs with his grandson Trip (yet another Phillip Baker). The two became inseparable, both in the shop working on cars and playing music. The last stop on his journey took him to Cleburne, TX where Sam, Donna, Bo and their grandkids found their dream home, including space to ride bikes and motorcycles, raise chickens and ducks, and live out his lifelong goal of running One Corvair Restoration Shop. Sadly, on January 12, 2021 he rode off into the sunset just a couple miles from that finish line. But, for Sam that road was never about the finish line. It was about family and friendship and love. And he leaves a wealth of those riches in his tracks, including his adoring wife of 43 years, Donna, their son Bo, his grandson Trip, granddaughters Skylar and Izzy, his mother Rosie, siblings Cathey, Laurie and Danny, a large extended family, countless friends, a bunch of beautiful Corvairs, guitars galore, and a legacy of love and loyalty. Donna said recently that Sam could fix pretty much anything, even your broken heart. And right now, though we are indeed broken hearted, the music he leaves behind will comfort us as we keep moving down this old road.
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