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Ray Baker

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#1 Morabeza


    Rank: JUVENILE

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  • Location:Berkeley, California

Posted 02 December 2010 - 12:16 AM

Yesterday Ray Baker died after a tough battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Lyon Arboretum would not be what it is today without his decades of intense dedication to its collections. He was passionate about palms. His illness forced him to retire from the arboretum in September. He had been fighting a very tough battle against the illness, especially in the past year, but we all hoped he would get to live longer. The legacy that Ray left is immense. He poured the last 38 years of his life into the Arboretum. His passing is a huge loss for Lyon and the botanical community in Hawai'i and around the world.

In September he created a foundation to support the living collections at the Arboretum. For those who can, I encourage you to contribute to the Raymond F. Baker Fund for Grounds and Living Collections at the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum.
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Jacob Knecht
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#2 bgl


    Creating my new Palm Paradise

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  • Location:Leilani Estates, 25 miles S of Hilo, Island of Hawai'i

Posted 02 December 2010 - 04:29 PM


I am so very sad to hear that. Ray will truly be missed. With his knowledge, dedication and his very unique sense of humor he was most definitely a one-of-a-kind guy. A number of years ago a small group of members from the Hawaii Island Palm Society flew from Hilo to Honolulu and we spent the weekend there. Ray was our guide and we visited Ho'omaluhia, Lyon (of course!) and Foster Botanical Garden. What a weekend! And to say that we couldn't have had a better guide than Ray would be the understatement of the century! That one weekend, from a palm perspective AND just having a great time in general, easily surpassed almost all Biennials I have attended. I also had the pleasure of spending some time with Ray on those occasions when he visited Hilo and the Big Island.

Definitely a very sad occasion. Thanks for letting us know.

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Leilani Estates, 25 mls/40 km south of Hilo, Big Island of Hawai'i. Elevation 880 ft/270 m. Average rainfall 140 inches/3550 mm


#3 mnorell


    Rank: TRUNKING

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  • Location:Big Pine Key, FL and Natchez, MS

Posted 03 December 2010 - 09:02 PM

This is really upsetting news to me. I had no idea Ray was ill. I last saw him a couple of years ago and he was still the same fun guy I had spent so much time with in the late '80s when I lived in Honolulu...only that great moustache and the hair had gone silver! But he was still dressed in the safari clothes with a machete, on his way off to go through the forest cutting the vines off the palms. I echo Jacob's statement above in that he was the essence of dedication and a fount of knowledge. And just a super, super person. He really shaped my knowledge of palms and other tropical plants and I will miss him very much.
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Michael Norell

Big Pine Key, Florida | 24° 40' N 81° 21' W | elev. 4.5 ft. | Zone 11b | Calcareous substrate
- avg annual min. approx. 48F | Jan 65/75F, July 83/89F | Historical extreme: approx. 41F

Natchez, Mississippi | 31° 33' N 91° 24' W | elev. 220 ft.| zone 9a | Downtown/river-adjacent microclimate | Loess substrate
- avg min. 23F / lows: 24F | 27 | 23 | 23 | 24 | 18 | 23 | 27 | 27 | 18 (2013-14) | Jan 43/61F, July 73/93F | Extreme: 2.5F (1899)

#4 Jeff Searle

Jeff Searle

    Camp #3- Marojejy Mtns.

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 06:54 AM

I'm am also very saddened to hear Ray just recently passed away.Last year when I made a trip to Oahu to visit my son Travis in the military, I made a point to visit Ray one afternoon.Ray was extreamly knowledgable not only at Lyon's with it's collections of plants, but was a giant in the palm community as well. He will be missed. Ray Baker, RIP.
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