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John Baker (1944-1970)

Facts About John Baker

John Baker graduated from Manzano High School here in Albuquerque. He ended his high school track career as an undefeated champion.

John Baker was offered scholarships at 10 different colleges. He chose to go to the University of New Mexico.

In college, John Baker was a four-time Western Athletic Conference title winner for the mile and for cross-country.

John Baker accepted a job as coach for Aspen Elementary School in Albuquerque. Can you find 'evidence' of the school's former name somewhere in our school?

John Baker coached a track team for girls (from first grade through high school) called the Duke City Dashers. The team competed in AAU-endorsed events.

John Baker's students so adored him that they requested the school be named after him following his death in 1970 of cancer. John Baker Elementary School!!!!

A Poem Written by John Baker

Here is a poem written by John Baker five years before he was diagnosed with cancer.

Many thoughts race through my mind
As I step up to the starting line
Butterflies thru my stomach fly,
And as I free that last deep sigh,
I feel that death is drawing near,
But the end of the race I do not fear.
For when the string comes across my breast,
I know it's time for eternal rest.
The gun goes off, the race is run,
And only God knows if I've won.
My family and friends and many more
Can't understand what it was for.
But this "Race To Death" is a final test,
And I'm not afraid, for I've done my best.

It was a day of celebration for Jack and Polly Baker, their first son John W. Baker was born. As the years passed, the Baker family grew. In the next six years John had a brother and sister. By the time John was ten they had moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. His father was now managing KOAT-TV. He could now move his family to a new house on Kentucky Street. John and his brother Robert went to Mark Twain Elementary School. The first day of school John met his friend for life, John Haaland. In high school Baker quit baseball for track. His coach did not think John could do it. John made a deal. If he could get Haaland to join, then he could run. Well, John got Haaland to join. By his first race John Baker beat the unbeatable, Lloyd Goff. His first year he broke six state records. After John got his college degree from UNM, he started training for the Olympics.

John began working at Aspen Elementary as a coach. The kids loved him and he loved them too. Everything was going well until he found out he had cancer. During this time John and Haaland were coaching a track team called the Dashers. With John's encouragement the Dashers continued to improve. After a while they were so good, they were invited to the AAU Championship. Well, John did not make it to the championship. But with tears in their eyes the Dashers won, won for John W. Baker. On May 16, 1971 all of Aspen Elementary voted to change the name to John Baker Elementary, there was not one vote against. Now every year we have a Jog-A-Thon in honor of him.

~ by Tyler D.

John Baker was a skilled runner. He wanted to share his experience with others. He created a boys running team called the Duke City Dashers. He taught at Aspen Elementary. He encouraged kids to run. His spirit still lives in the re-named school, John Baker.

~ by Devon A.

John Baker was my mom's P.E. leader when she was in first grade and taught her how to skip.

~ by Jessica N.