Fred Baker, champion of Bemidji State and Native Americans, dies at 84

Jan. 10—Bemidji State Class of 1961 alumnus and longtime BSU supporter Frederick Baker died on Dec. 27 in Bismarck, N.D. He was 84.

"BSU joins Fred's loved ones in mourning the loss of a great man," said Adrian Dunn, the BSU Alumni & Foundation's director of development, in a release. "Bemidji State and Beaver athletics will forever be grateful for the impact Fred made here."

Baker's greatest lasting legacy at BSU will be his efforts to help the university reimagine the John Glas Fieldhouse. Largely through a generous donation from Baker, Bemidji State renovated its former hockey facility in 2019 to include a weight room, field turf, batting cages and other amenities that provide an indoor training facility for every BSU athletic program.

The facility — the Frederick P. Baker Training Center — was named in his honor.

"Fred loved Beaver athletics and was able to provide a gift that will continue to keep on giving for many years to come," Dunn said. "The recent success of our athletic programs is directly related to Fred's generosity and his commitment to Bemidji State."

As a student, Baker graduated from Bemidji State College in 1961 after competing as a member of the Beavers track and field, cross country, basketball and football teams. He was also heavily involved on campus as the Northern Student newspaper's assistant editor and a member of the glee club and band. He was a 2021 inductee to the Bemidji State Athletic Hall of Fame as a John S. Glas Honorary Letter Winner.

In the years following his graduation, Baker became a regular supporter on the sidelines of BSU road games, provided meals for the football and men's basketball teams when on the road and funded a scholarship for women's track and field/cross country. Baker was also active with the American Indian Resource Center, providing opportunities for prospective and current Native American students.

Baker — who was three-quarters Mandan-Hidatsa Indian and one-quarter Irish — was also a champion of American Indians all throughout his professional career. He taught and coached, then forged a career in public health and health care administration — always with some direct or indirect connection to American Indian communities.

Baker's family is planning to hold a memorial service in April in Mandaree, N.D.