A little boy named Wayne Baker, along with a few other children, were told by one of their teachers that they “weren’t worth wasting her time on.” So she didn’t.
Eventually Wayne went to Oakland,California to find work and landed there the day before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He found work at a shipyard where he gained priceless knowledge in cutting and welding. Wayne was later drafted and after completing that he put his skills to work building bridges.
I asked Wayne how he decided on bridge building and he replied that someone needed a bridge! “When there is a need you figure out how to do it.” He designs everything he builds.
His first bridge was for the city of Wellington, Utah in the early thirties. He has since built over a hundred. One was for the tiny town of Hailstone, Utah. While in the river splicing it together they stopped for lunch. Walking into a nearby café they heard the TV announcing that President Kennedy had been shot.
Later they moved back to their home town of Freedom, Wyoming where he and Dick Casull (of .454 Casull fame) established a gun manufacturing company. This business continued for many years. Dick passed away in 2018 but
Wayne is still chairman of the board of that thriving business.
Most of the private bridges in Star Valley are to his credit but he also has some in Jackson, Wilson, Teton Village, and Pinedale, Wyoming as well as Driggs and Victor, Idaho.
A celebrity was asked why he had three bridges on his property when two would have done the job. He replied, “I like Wayne’s bridges.”
Wayne and some of his colleagues have worked hard to get money together to start a trade school in Star Valley and it is well underway. Probably a wave of the future.
Imagine what Wayne could have accomplished if that teacher had chosen to “waste” her time on him…
Wayne and Miriam had eight children, (they lost their oldest son in an automobile accident when he was seventeen) 40 grandchildren, “around” 120 great grandchildren and ten great-great grandchildren. His beloved wife of nearly 73 years passed away this past January. He said she was a sweetheart – a wonderful wife and mother – and the reason he has been successful.
Wayne is 95 years old. He says he retires every night and that’s as close as it will get.
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