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Richard 'Dick' Baker, 1946-2009: Surf brands lose a favorite uncle

April 15, 2009 |  4:54 pm

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Richard “Dick” Baker of San Clemente, who helped shape the surf apparel industry as longtime president of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Assn. and president of the iconic Op surf brand, has died. He was 62.
Baker lost a two-year battle with cancer Tuesday morning, April 14, at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. “He was part father, part brother and part friend and I feel like an orphan today,” said Fernando Aguerre, co-founder of Reef, current chief executive of Liquid Tribe and a longtime friend.

His ability to embrace, and genuinely appreciate, the surf culture and at the same time act as a kind of freewheeeling ambassador/mentor between the wave riders and Wall Streeters made him an influential spokesman for the industry, and he was often sought out by reporters trying to navigate the tightknit industry. That's how I first met him, during my stint as West Coast editor of DNR, and we remained in touch long after my departure.  

We shared many laughs and more than a few tears together. "We married strong women, didn't we boss?" he was fond of reminding me whenever we spoke. "What did we do to deserve that?" (For the record, I never had an answer.)

He is survived by his wife, Una Baker; sons, Ryan, 16, and Jack, 15; father, Donald Baker of Van Nuys; and a sister, Donna Smith Vigil of San Clemente.

Funeral services will be private, though a public memorial may be planned at a later date. SIMA has announced plans to honor Baker with the Lifetime Achievement Award at its 20th annual Waterman’s Ball in August.

A link to the full obituary, which should be in Thursday's Los Angeles Times, will be posted as soon as it is available. *Update: Click here to read the entire obituary.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Richard "Dick" Baker, left, with his father, Donald Baker, at the SIMA Environmental Fund Waterman’s Classic Golf Tournament in August 2008. Credit: SIMA.

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