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Tiffany Montgomery
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Remembering Dick Baker, Part II

By Tiffany Montgomery
May 02, 2009 12:34 PM

Here are more tributes and remembrances of Dick Baker, chairman emeritus of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association, apparel industry veteran, and friend and mentor to many.

I created a second page of tributes because the first tribute page was full, and in fact had begun dropping tributes from the bottom of the page as I was adding more. This page has new tributes and any that fell off the first page.

Thank you for sending them and honoring a special, generous man who touched us all.

Here is information about the paddle out for Dick on May 31.

Jeff Berg, Chairman, Surfline; Co-Founder/Board Member, Swell; Founder, Airborne Media

"I've only really known Dick for two years, when I recruited him to the Board of Swell.

"Beyond contributing significantly to our company, Dick became a friend in that very personal way of his. It's easy to say I've never met a man who faced his illness down the way Dick did. My youngest brother has
been fighting colon cancer for six years now. He's very brave, but he 'endures' it and his lifestyle has changed a lot.

"Dick, in his own way, ignored it and overcame it, because he simply didn't let it get in the way of living life on his own terms. He did it in such a way, that it was hard to understand how sick he was at times. One can sense that's how Dick wanted it....no whining and no pity from others on his plight. He just wanted to live life as full as he could. And man, could he get more out of a few hours or a day than anyone I knew; and you as well for being blessed to share his wisdom or friendship.

"It's beyond remarkable to think back upon his visits and participation in business meetings after chemo treatments or other medical visits. Passionately involved, funny, irreverent and always helpful and insightful.

"He was courageous, comedic, caring and inspiring all at the same time and all the way till the end. The Berg family misses him dearly."

Gary Ward, founder, Ocean Minded

"Dick Baker was first and foremost my dear friend; someone I was able to share thoughts with about family, sports, the surf industry and other business ventures. He had a great sense of humor and a great read on people. I met Dick on the beach in 2001. We got to know each other, over some good wine, as we shared stories of the surf industry he was about to enter. I had no idea at that time whose company I was in, just a super cool guy; and that's the thing about Dick, it was never about who's who.

"I did encouraged him to move to San Clemente to raise his young family and enjoy the quality of life that is so unique to San Clemente. How lucky we were they moved our way! He was known to joke and say he would retire as a gardener in San Clemente...he knew he didn't need much more than that here. He referred to the new home he built, as "Una's Kitchen"...and in that home and around that kitchen, Dick along with Una single handedly brought the surf industry players and not such big players, along with the neighborhood, together for celebrations, holidays, family dinners, or just to be together.

"He enjoyed all our children - the babies and the college graduates. He formed a tribe within the industry and an extended family within our neighborhood. It's no accident that 1000+ people are grieving his loss. Dick was an avid sports fan; loved golf, the Lakers, fishing, and SC high school football games. We enjoyed many hot dogs and plenty of popcorn in the Triton's bleachers over the last three years.

"Dick didn't set out to give advice to those he met, although many of us reached out to him for it; Dick set out to get to know each of us - he actively invested in his friendships. I know, Dick consciously chose how to design his life and along with Una, Ryan and Jack he won the XXL for a great life, an enviable life. I look forward to sharing the many stories and remembering him. 

Linda Sadeghi, co-owner, LAB Holding, LLC

"Only Dick Baker could say ‘Hi, Darlin'!' with such uplifting affection. His exuberance, compassion, and tireless energy never waivered although the body was failing. He alone could wring 30 hours worth of progress on worthy causes, outreach, and mentoring from a 24 hour day. The rest of us were standing still when compared to Dick. What a blessing it has been to have him as a friend and a great challenge for us to honor him by assuming some of the meaningful missions he championed."

Leila Endersby

"As anyone knows, Dick brought to the industry the outside expertise, class and spice the surf industry was missing! His passion and knowledge for our industry from someone that was not a surfer will be forever remembered and missed! Dick has been a great friend for PT and I. We will miss him dearly!"

Rick Strassner, VP of Sales, Sole Technology, Inc.

"In business and in life, we are blessed to intersect with special people like Dick Baker. I met Dick several years ago at a SIMA Surf Summit. Several months later our paths crossed again at an industry event. Dick remembered me, my name, my wife and her name, where I worked and several others within our company, whom he asked about. It was truly impressive how he made me feel like an old friend, even after meeting him only months prior.

"In a world we are we are moving at light speed, where communication simultaneously connects and separates us, we can learn from Dick. We can learn to take time to appreciate others. To take time to help others. To take time to befriend others. To take time to make a difference. To take time to give back and make our industry and our a world a better place. Those lives he touched are better for it.

"In Dick's spirit may we all remember how he touched us. May he continue to guide us and give us the courage to do the same for others. For his family, our hearts go out to you. May you continue to be inspired by all he was as a husband, father and friend. And may his light shine brightly through you and through all of us. Thanks Dick, for being you."

John Bernards, executive director, International Association of Skateboard Companies

"This week we lost Dick Baker a true life mentor to the actions sports industry and good friend to the skateboard industry.

"Baker was a devoted family man first, an advocate, spokesperson, who successfully rallied the surf industry. He was a primary reason for the surf industry's growth and success.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with SIMA.

"We will all miss his presence. He was a personal friend and I will also miss him greatly."

Jason Runes, former OP / Seven2 designer

"I met Dick Baker while designing the OP line for Rays. He was always friendly, and always said what he thought, which could be insightful, funny or even withering, depending on how you were performing.

"Along with his vast business knowledge, he had a genuine enthusiasm for surf apparel. Once at a line review for Seven2, he said that he liked a certain shirt style, so I was pretty stoked! Later, at the ASR tradeshow, I was dismayed to find the sample had gone missing. Had it been lost? Or stolen? I was tearing up the booth trying to find it. Then in walks Dick, smiling, and wearing the shirt, which he had pulled out of the sample line the night before!!

"My condolences to his family and friends."

Richard J. Sample, CEO, Soleo Organics

"So sad to hear about Dick's passing. The world (and this industry!) need more Dick Bakers!

"Like I'm sure countless others in this industry can echo, Dick seemed to always have a passion for the young, energetic entrepreneur. My partner, James Urioste and I were introduced to Dick by Gary Ward very early in the infancy of our business. Being fellow San Clementeans, Dick, Gary, James and I shared a deep mutual concern for our community and our sport. In the early beginnings of our company, Dick drew alongside us to not only freely give us his time and invaluable advice, but even went out of his way to open the right doors for us to build our brand and put our company on the industry's map.

"I've personally been involved in highest levels of businesses in several different industries for over 25 years, and rarely have I ever met such a quality person, such a consummate professional as Dick Baker. Dick represented and will always be the CORE of this industry. My best and prayers to Una and the boys in this time of your loss. Our industry burns a lot dimmer today with Dick's passing."

Bob Graff, Graffy, Inc.

"He was a friend, mentor and leader. Could always count on him for advice and support. My best memory was seeing the pride he and his son's shared and expressed when named 'Father Of The Year' at a function last year.

"He was able to be all that he was to our industry while never losing focus on what was most important: being the best dad, husband, son and friend!

"He always took the time to remind me how lucky I was to have my wife and kids.

"He is missed.........................! God Bless"

Gayle Jarrett, divisional merchandising manager, Volcom Girls

"I met Dick while working for Rays on the Op line and valued him as a mentor. He was a strong voice in getting the juniors lines respect in our industry and told me to keep pushing when juniors was the afterthought. I called him Mr. Baker for years, no matter how many times he told me to call him Dick.
It fit to how much I respected him as a person, a mentor, and a visionary.

"Aloha, Mr. Baker . . ."


Dick was a class act, one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, but still would give you a honest opinion. I will truly miss him for his life had a great meaning to me and to many others in our industry. But mostly because I considered him a true friend. R.I.P Dick and I will always remember the things we talked about.

Dan McInerny, Vice President of Sales, Olukai Premium Footwear

"Our hearts go out to Una, Ryan and Jack.

"We lost a close friend today who inspired us in so many ways.
Dick's amazing character and gentle nature will always live with us.
He taught us so may lessons, by way of his rich experiences, brilliance, compassion and mentorship.
To say that he was unique, inspiring and charismatic, would be a gross understatement.
His passion for the unthinkable, gave us the courage and desire to overcome all obstacles.

"The torch has been passed.

"We thank you for making our lives that much more special.

Mark Sperling, co-founder, group Y

"Dick is one of those rare individuals who come along once in a lifetime. His energy, charisma and passion was infectious to all those who came across him. As so many have said, he was a mentor to all, giving his direct wisdom that he learned over the years.

"I had the pleasure of him supporting my efforts over the years, not just financially, but being an involved partner that helped steer my projects in the right direction. Through his love, he & Una help support so many worthy causes, especially one close to my heart, Boarding for Breast Cancer. Many were unaware of his past before he entered our industry, as he oversaw the growth and rejuvenation of top-level apparel brands. This knowledge help take our industry, and our sports to a level we only once dreamt about. Dick, all of us will miss you. You are one we all aspire to be."

Steve Veytia, former managing director of Op Europe

"I am happy to see so many people reaching out in Dick's memory. He was a great father and friend.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of Dick's passing. We were hoping to see both he and Una in Paris this week so I know that he was fighting until the end; true to Dick's spirit.

"I feel fortunate to have learned from Dick and share his friendship over the years. I traveled with Dick a few times a year, which was a good time to get caught up on our family life. Dick was so proud of Una, Jack and Ryan. They were the source of his strength.

"The world will be a different place without Dick but the lives he has touched will carry his torch.

"Much love to Una, Jack and Ryan ... The Veytia family."

Jeff and Larry Yarchever, Jet Apparel

"Dick mentored us long before he entered the water. He gave us our start when he was running things for the Tompkins at Esprit in San Francisco. Dick took a liking to us and sold us 30,000 Esprit samples and we were off and running. It's not often you meet a dynamic and caring soul. He was the Shell Answer Man for our industry. There wasn't anything Dick hadn't encountered. He was the one you wanted at the helm of your ship. We will miss him immensely."

Todd Miller, founder, Factor54

Dick was one of the nicest people that I have ever met. I am really sadden by the new of his passing. He made a everlasting impression in my life and he will be greatly missed. He is gone but will never be forgotten. Love you buddy.

Tad Buchoz, Huntington Beach, CA

"Dick Baker what a class act!  Always smiling, he had such a wonderful sense of humor, he will be sorely missed!"

Tony Cavaliere, Cavaliere Design

Dick has certainly influenced my life. I have always admired his vision and enthusiasm.

As his Art Director at OP, he challenged me in ways that have strengthened me as a creative
and businessman that I have continued to apply to my career.

My prayers go out to his family.

Carter Gibbs, Mad Media, Director of Branding and Athlete Management

"Dick Baker was a 'Baller' in the move it - shake it sense. Dick never big timed me or anyone that knew him. He always took an interest in what I had cooking... And had best interests and intent in mind for us all. He gave me heart felt advice and sincere perspective. I'm bummed I won't be able to goof around with him any more.

"Dick is brainstorming right now! Dick Baker was an inspiration and a solid."

Tony Perez, publisher, Surfing Magazine

"The thing that I will always remember Dick for was that he was always honest with me and would be the first to put me in my place. I remember when I first started at the Magazine, some years ago and him pulling me aside at a trade show and letting me know he was watching me and that I could do better. This was pretty heavy, coming from Dick Baker. I was like holy cow I am such a loser! He even called me out in front of a few buds saying that going to Cabo for SIMA was more than just surfing and drinking beers all day in the pool. I recall at the time thinking this guy really has it out for me.

"Then, this one time I see Dick coming my way and I was thinking what did I do or not do this time? As he got to me he put his arms around my shoulder and asked if I wanted to come over to his house for dinner some time. It was then that I realized Dick was a friend and all those call out's were just a friend telling a friend that he expects more out of you.

"Dick thanks for always steering me in the right direction. You will be greatly missed by the Perez Family."

Pat Fraley, Brand Director, Honolua Surf Company, Kustom Footwear

Dick Baker was someone that I always sought for advice when i had my own business, and to this day he was someone I could always reach out to for guidance. I appreciated the fact that he brought an outsiders perspective on things and he never hesitated to offer his services. I credit Dick for helping to get the industry where it is today and i think he was largely responsible for guiding the future business direction. All of us have and will continue to benefit from his leadership. He loved this industry and it's good to know that his last years were spent doing what he loved. He will be sorely missed in so many ways. God Bless to Una and the kids. My heart is with you.

Mikke Pierson, co-owner, ZJ Boarding House

"I have so many memories of Dick. A bit emotional to write about right now, but also helps somehow.

I'll share two:

The first is when he showed up at one of the first SurfAid board meetings as we were trying to get SurfAid more organized and going in America. In about 15 or 20 minutes he let all of us know what our challenges were, what we needed to do and what our opportunities were. He was right about everything of course. As I remember, Fernando & Santi Aguerre, Robert Gerard and the rest of us just sat there in awed silence as he laid it out. Amazing. Powerful.

The other memory is when Dick started hitting me fairly hard on the shoulder every time I saw him. I soon realized it meant he liked me and I was truly stoked. It felt good to able to count Dick as a friend. Still feels that way."

Scott Bass, Sacred Craft Consumer Surfboard Expo

Dick Baker always made you feel important, that your contributions meant something. He never marginalized or looked down upon you. You walked away thinking, "I like that guy." Dick Baker was sincere.

Krista Poehler, Osiris

"Like everyone else, I'm just so sad. I'm reading everyone's comments and I didn't know him as well because my perspective is just as a newer person in the industry trying to learn as much as i can.

"I've only been in the industry for three years, but the first time I heard Dick Baker speak at the SIMA summit in 2007, I knew that I needed to listen to this man whenever it was possible for me to get to a speaking engagement he was involved in. I think i heard him speak a total of five times and every time I was struck by an insight that he shared. I was especially thankful for his support of the Juniors market within our industry. Thank you Dick!"

Bryce Halbert, Brand ID

"I had the honor to meeting Dick Baker through a mutual friend over 10 years ago when I was new to this industry and finding my way. He was always interested in helping anyone along. It didn't matter if he was speaking to a young guy starting out or the CEO of a major brand, Dick was generous with his wisdom and could always point you in the right direction. Over the years I was so impressed with how he became such a force in pushing our industry along and helping as all grow up, as companies or as people. He will truly be missed but his legacy will last forever."


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