Baker Michael Harry Baker, industrial chemist and founder of Chem/Serv, Inc of Minneapolis, former president of the Minnesota Academy of Science and a founding member of the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center died on March 22, 2005. Born in Roanoke, Virginia in 1916, Baker came to Minneapolis to join General Mills Research Labs in 1947.
During his more than half a century in the city, he was known and respected as a businessman and scientist and a strong supporter of the city’s many cultural mainstays, including the Walker Art Museum, the Guthrie Theater, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and others. As founder of Chem/Serv more than 50 years ago, Michael Baker rose to prominence not only as a chemical engineer and businessman, but also as an active member of a number of professional societies and as editor of various professional journals including The Minnesota Chemist.
He worked with the Minnesota Academy of Science and a number of other scientific and business organizations and was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a national councilor of the Institute of Food Technologists for a number of years and served as chairman of the Minnesota Federation of Engineering Societies. In 1972 – 73, he enjoyed the exceptional honor of chairing both the Minnesota Chapter of the American Chemical Society and the Minnesota Chapter of the Institute of Chemical Engineers. He was a founding member of the National Association of Chemical Distributors, and was also a member of the Chemists Club of New York and the Campus Club of the University of Minnesota. Baker also served as Chairman of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society for Technion and was on the board of the Minneapolis Jewish Vocational Services.
His many other social and cultural affiliations extended in later life to an active role in the preservation of the Yiddish language, which has been experiencing a remarkable renaissance. He taught classes in Yiddish, supported the National Yiddish Book Center, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and was a national officer of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs.