Dr. Robert H. Baker died Jan. 5, a week before his 79th birthday, in Solana Beach, Calif. The Los Angeles native had endured complications from multiple orthopedic surgeries.
Baker grew up around horses. His father owned a riding academy and trained horses at Santa Anita. Baker received his veterinary degree from the University of California. He began his practice at Caliente race track and later worked at Santa Anita after receiving his veterinary license.
Baker, who served in the military, built a successful farm practice. He established one of the first private equine surgeries, the Chino Valley Equine Hospital, in Chino in 1970.
“Dr. Baker was well known and recognized for his cutting edge technique in surgery," said Dr. Joe Held, a retired assistant surgeon general." Many of us start out with dreams of doing the sorts of things that Bob had done, but few of us have really accomplished them. He made it a part of his professionalism to keep abreast of all the recent scientific developments in the field and to apply these to the benefit of his patients and clients. His orientation and devotion was toward private practice, and he maintained an interest in the breadth of veterinary medicine. He was supportive of the profession in its broadest aspects. He saw it as part of his duty to share his knowledge and to contribute to the training of the new generation of colleagues. He established a system of internships in his hospital and trained up to 30 interns from all over the world over the 18 year period of 1972 to 1990."
Baker received the 1993 C.V.M.A.’s inaugural Dan Evans Memorial Award for significant contributions to the practice of equine veterinary medicine and to the profession and his community; and the UC Davis 1997 Alumni Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession, for his excellent diagnostic and surgical skills, and for his mentorship to new graduates. In 2001, he was presented with the A.A.E.P.’s Distinguished Educator Award. It was the first time this award was given to a private practitioner. The same year, he received the Mexican Association of Equine Practitioners’ Caballero Azteca lifetime achievement equine veterinary award.
Baker's survivors include his wife of 53 years, Ann; sons Mike, Robert W., and Chris; and daughter Erin.
Donations can be made to the UC Davis Veterinary School, One Shields Ave., Davis, Calif., 95616, or to the Dr. Robert Baker Memorial Fund, AAEP, 4075 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, Ky., 40511.