Verlin “Buck” Baker, Jr
Verlin “Buck” Baker, Jr. passed away surrounded by his family on June 17, 2018, at the age of 76. He will be remembered as an accomplished musician, prominent businessman, ardent golfer, and most importantly a loving husband, a selfless father, and a friend to many. He was born to Verlin “Jack” Baker and Floris Luft Baker on October 26, 1941 and was raised in Algiers. As a teenager, Buck began taking clarinet lessons from Professor Minetta on Lebeouf Street in Algiers, but it wasn’t long before he decided that the saxophone was the instrument for him. Buck formally began his musical career in 1955 with The Syncopators. Three years later his band merged with The Aristocrats and with the best of both bands, The Esquires were born. Buck graduated from Behrman High School and continued leading The Esquires during the late 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. The Esquires fashioned a style that was uniquely their own. This group was talented, charismatic, always dressed to perfection, and could keep any audience dancing all night long. Together they became a family to each other and to many loyal fans for nearly thirty years, which confirmed The Esquires’ status of one of the most admired bands in the city. Buck’s work on the sax helped him create an impressive and wide ranging resume that included assisting Frankie Ford with his first recordings and playing with such great musicians as Dr. John, Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, and Roland Stone. In addition, he also served as a member and President of the New Orleans Musicians Alumni Association, a founding member and President of the Westbank Musicians Hall of Fame and an inductee into theLouisiana Music Hall of Fame. Early in his career Buck worked with Carlo Ditta and went on to open the popular Baker’s Wine Gallery in Terrytown. In 1985, Buck became an agent for Allstate Insurance and owned his own agency until his retirement in 2005. He enjoyed serving his community by organizing dances and fundraisers for fellow musicians. After his retirement, he and his wife Janice moved to Ponchatoula and he enjoyed playing golf with his brother, George, who is a PGA professional. He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Janice Baker; his son, Brian Michael Baker and wife, Tammy; two grandsons, Tyler Anthony Baker and Blake Matthew Baker; granddaughter, Brooke Catherine Baker; sisters, Jacqueline Chifici and husband, Frank, and Jan Esther Cogan and husband, Wayne; brother, George Baker and fiancé’ Sue Tranchina; brother in law, Louis Inguagiato; and many beloved nieces and nephews. Buck is preceded in death by his parents, Verlin “Jack” Baker and Floris Luft Baker. Honorary Pallbearers are Howard Burg, Donald Dupuis, Jimmy Marcello, Emmett Michel, Terry Rodrigue, Kevin Smith, and The Esquires family, Lamar Bourgeois, Jim Chandler, Errol Dauenhauer, Dave Gilliot, Henry Guerrano, Eddie Hynes, James Jackel, Tony Licata, Tony Manalla, Tony Monjure, Freddie Staley, and Errol Theriot. Visitation and memorial service were held on June 21, 2018 at Mothe Funeral Home in Harvey. Internment in the Westlawn Cemetery in Gretna. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the American Cancer Society or the LASPCA.