Heights bids farewell to a
By Lori Michael, Staff Writer
The Shopper News, March 31, 2004
Hasbrouck Heights The borough bowed its head in remembrance of
lifelong resident and former police chief and assistant fire chief. Howard
"Buddy" Baker passed away on March 23 at the age of 74.
"It was an honor to work
with him," said Mayor Ronald Jones, who served as a police officer while Baker was on
the force. "He was a truly dedicated man and he gave his life to everything."
Baker served on the police force
for 42 years and was chief from 1975 to 1993. He served as a firefighter for 28 years and
was a former fire chief.
"I remember he would come in
to work at the police station at 9 a.m. and at 3 a.m. he would be on the fire truck
responding to a call," Police Chief Michael Colaneri said. "He was
well-respected by other towns and was a very down-to-earth gentlemen."
According to Colaneri, Baker
started the traffic bureau of the police department, but worked mostly as a detective in
the records bureau.
At one point he served as both
fire and police chiefs, but former mayor William Imken would not allow him to be in charge
of both, Colaneri noted.
Baker lived across the street
from the old municipal building with his wife, Bernice, who works in the borough
clerks office, and their eight children, six daughters and two sons. Now, with his
children all grown up and living in different areas, they each reminisce about their
"You always think your
parents will be there forever," said the oldest daughter, Beverly Berardinelli of
Aurora, Colo. "He was always there whenever we needed him. He would fix a flat tire
if we needed him to. He was a good role model for the community by being assistant fire
chief and police chief. He set the attitude for the rest of us, which was do the best of
your ability and always follow through."
His daughter, Sharon Baker
Witzels fondest memories are the family vacations to the Jersey shore and giving
birth to her twins.
"When we went to the shore
we would go crabbing out in the bay," she said. "I give a lot of credit to my
mom and dad, it was tough raising all eight of us. When I gave birth to twins five years
ago, I was grateful to have my parents with me and they got to see them right after they
She described her father as a
"strong silent type."
His older son, Howard Baker III,
reflected also about the crabbing trip.
"Our grandfather, my
dads father, would join us at the shore," said Baker. "We had so many
crabs running through the fire department."
Baker said he was lucky to have
both his mom and dad work in the borough.
"I am very fortunate to have
had my mom and dad both work in town. After school I would stop by the municipal building
to say hi or if my dad wasnt at his desk the police officer would call
my dad in," Baker added.
The youngest son, Alan Baker, who
currently serves as a police officer, stressed the importance of his dad being by his side
on the night he was sworn in.
"He held the Bible while I
was sworn in," Alan said. "My dad was a man of integrity and decency."
"His values are so hard to
find nowadays," said daughter, Linda Condal. "His love was unconditional and
even if you cracked the car it didnt matter he would still love you. I wouldnt
have wished for anyone else to have been my father."
Bakers daughter, Carolyn
Dieter, said, "He was the best dad this daughter ever asked for."
His daughter, Nancy McCrystall,
reflected about the time he taught all of them how to drive.
"There was a moment where I
almost took a bridge out, so he named the bridge after me," said McCrystall.
"Not only did he teach us how to drive but he also taught us how to change a tire and
all the inns and outs of cars maintenance. He got a chance to teach his oldest
granddaughter how to drive and she recently got her license."
Diane Lohrmann, Bakers
youngest daughter, mentioned her fondest memory with her father.
"I was very happy and
fortunate to have my dad walk me down the aisle at my wedding," said Lohrmann.
"I was the one who got married later in life. Being the youngest, I felt he always
looked out for me."
Lohrmann reflected upon her
father coming to her aid one rainy night.
"My car broke down when I
was on my way to White Plains, NY, and theres my dad with a mechanic fixing my
alternator," said Lohrmann.
Bakers wife, Bernice, said,
"It is hard to pick something out after 50 years. The happiest days were when we got
married and whenever we had another baby, but there are a lot of great memories. He loved
all his children and  grandchildren."
Baker was heavily involved in
various organizations. He was a gold card member of the PBA Local 102, a member of
Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department Honorary Membership, the Bergen County Police Chiefs
Association, the New Jersey State Association of Police Chiefs, the National Police Chiefs
Association, the Bergen Police Pistol League, the New Jerseys Exempt Firemans
Association, the Hasbrouck Heights Exempt Firemans Association, the South Bergen
Fire Chiefs Aid Association, the New Jersey State Fire Chiefs Association, Hasbrouck
Heights Emergency Squad, Hasbrouck Heights Ambulance Squad, Hasbrouck Heights Planning
Board, the Salvation Army, Hasbrouck Heights Band Parents Association, Boy Scout
Troop 68 and Cub Scouts, Hasbrouck Heights Little League and the Bergen County PBA Mutual
Aid Society, He also served as a sergeant in the New Jersey National Guard 50th Armored
In lieu of flowers, the family
requests memorial contributions to the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department, PBA Local
#102, 120 Oldfield Ave. or to the First Reformed Church Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 66,
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604.
Family Photos Career Photos
Message from Chief Baker Biography
Funeral Procession Record Obituary