Stuart Baker, Jr. '29
Stuart Baker, Jr. '29, a veteran stockbroker and securities analyst, believed to be Hamilton's oldest living alumnus and last surviving member of his class, was born on June 14, 1906, in Ossining, NY. Descended from a family that traced its American roots to colonial times, "Stu" Baker grew up in Ossining, the son of Stuart and Fannie Cummins Baker. He came to Hamilton as a graduate of Ossining High School in 1925, joined Delta Upsilon, and played hockey for four years as well as running cross-country and track. His business acumen was already evident while on the Hill: he owned four automobiles that he rented to fellow students for their weekend trips to women's colleges in the Northeast.
Stu Baker attended Columbia University's law school for a year following his graduation in 1929, that fateful year on Wall Street and for the nation. Soon realizing that the legal profession was not for him, he held down a variety of jobs during that Depression era, including one as a repo man. Long interested in the stock market, he received his introduction to that field in 1936 as an assistant to an investment advisor. That marked the beginning of his work-related hobby of keeping monthly stock price charts on thousands of corporations over time. In a much modified way, he continued to work on his charts until the end of his long life.
In the late 1930s, Stu Baker's father formed the Beaux Arts Wall Paper Co. The two of them went into the wallpaper business, opening concessions at such retail outlets as Gimbels in New York City and Losurs in Brooklyn. When Stu inherited from his father a building in downtown Ossining, he decided in addition to open his own wallpaper and paint store, to which he later added appliances, television sets, and sporting goods. He continued to operate the retail concessions as well as his own store, Baker's Ossining, until the early 1950s, when he sold the business. With his charts up-to-date, he then became a stockbroker, realizing a long-cherished ambition. While continuing to reside in Ossining, he joined Oppenheimer Vanderbrook in nearby White Plains, where, through a series of firm-name changes, he remained employed until his retirement. He became White Plains office manager for Shields & Co., and was subsequently with Prudential-Bache. He concluded his career in 1998 as a vice president of Prudential Securities.
Upon retirement, Stu Baker wrote up his investment technique in the form of a little book called The Three-Legged Stock Stool. A distillation of the experience and wisdom he had accumulated over the years, it set forth what he subtitled The Stupid Man's System for investment success. It was published in 2005, not long before he celebrated his 100th birthday and a year after he was honored to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, with his family by his side.
A fine athlete who had turned down a bid to play hockey for the New York Rangers after college, Stu Baker was also an avid tennis player who participated in numerous U.S. Tennis Association senior tournaments, both singles and doubles. For several years in his 80s he was nationally ranked in the top 10 in his age bracket. Always bursting with energy, he ran two or three miles a day, even in his 90s, played golf frequently, and watched his diet. At age 92, he even headed up a 5K run in which four generations of his family participated. Fishing and camping were among his other favorite activities in his younger years.
Stuart Baker died on November 30, 2008, in Valhalla, NY, where he last resided, at the age of 102. Predeceased in 2003 by his wife, the former Edith (Bunny) Kennelly, whom he had married in 1934, he is survived by two sons, Stuart D. '57 and Michael A. Baker; four grandchildren, including David M. '83 and Stuart R. Baker '83; and eight great-grandchildren.