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Operatio Experience rew


“He asked me what kind of work I could do and I told him I’d do anything,” recalls Baker. “So he rolled his wife’s brand new Oldsmobile out there and had me wash and wax it. I guess I did a good job because it was a er that he off ered me a job working in the store.”


Baker says he owes a lot to Jones for the opportunity he was given.


“He taught me a lot about business,” said Baker. “He was a good man.”


“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:12


L


ife is good for O. D. Baker. It is especially good when the great-grandbabies visit. When that happens, he says, the rest of


the world, with all of its cares, simply fades away.


“I could close the store or miss an auc on and it wouldn’t ma er,” said Baker with a smile. “My world lights up when we get those great grandkids are down here.”


Baker can easily recall a  me when life wasn’t so good. The 68-year-old Delaware County na ve was born in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and raised near Colcord. When he was seven, the family of four relocated to Tulsa, where Baker’s father secured a new job doing janitorial work at a large downtown bank building.


The family’s world was turned upside down one day when a large storage tank that Baker’s father was cleaning shi ed and rolled, injuring him severely. The accident le Baker’s father permanently disabled. With no income, the family struggled to survive.


“We had an aunt and uncle that would come and help mom and dad,” Baker said. But it was s ll tough to keep the family fed.


“Groceries were real scarce,” recalls Baker. 12 - NE Connection


For two very lean years, the family did what it could to exist. Baker even remembers he and his sister venturing out into their north Tulsa neighborhood—near the corner of Pine and Lewis—to rummage through dumpsters for discarded food.


“We never talked about it much, but that was where a lot of our food came from,” Baker said.


A er two diffi cult years in Tulsa, the family moved back to Delaware County to be closer to its support network. They received a warm welcome from the community of Li le Kansas and se led into a home located on the fi ve-acre homestead owned by his grandfather, Burt Baker.


O. D. and his family have been fi xtures in the Kansas community ever since.


When O.D. was a teenager, he began helping support the family when he went to work for local businessman J.O. Jones. Mr. Jones owned a grocery/general store and gave O.D. all the hours he could work, including before and a er school and on Saturdays.


O.D. said he proved his worth to Jones by washing a car. But not just any car.


O. D. graduated high school at Kansas in 1965, met and married his wife Rita here, and he and Rita raised two daughters here. Thanks to the kindness of the community, Baker family businesses have always been supported. The grocery store at “Baker’s Five Acres” closed a year or so ago a er a long run, but O. D. and Rita s ll operate the furniture, an ques and collec bles store— which is located across from the fi re sta on in Kansas. It has been going strong for forty years. O. D. also does estate sales and business liquida ons with Pete Davis, with whom he has worked for 22 years.


Except for the years that O.D. le to obtain his teaching degree at Northeastern State University and teach at nearby Jay, Li le Kansas has been home for his family.


“The community has always supported us,” O. D. confi rmed. “We’ve had a lot of repeat business and that’s what you have to have to be in business in a small town. One thing I’ve always done, if I’ve ever sold you anything that I told you worked right and it doesn’t, I’ll send a repairman out there to fi x it or I’ll give you your money back.”


O. D. and Rita met by chance one day when she visited the store where he was working. She was from Idaho and was visi ng rela ves in Oklahoma.


“I was 21 and she was 18,” said O. D. “We went to the show Saturday night, went to church Sunday morning and Sunday night, and then she le and went back to Idaho.


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