His name and influence can be seen all over our region, but one of the Lehigh Valley's biggest philanthropists has died. Former Air Products CEO Dexter Baker died late last week at 85 years old, the company confirmed Monday.
Students at Lehigh University may not realize it, but Baker made major parts of their campus possible.
"Dexter meant a tremendous amount to Lehigh University," said school president Alice Gast.
Announcing Baker's death Monday, current Air Products president and CEO John McGlade said, "He was a pioneer for Air Products in many ways. He was very good at setting tough goals, one of which was globalizing Air Products and he led the way in achieving this. We are now in over 50 countries."
For Gast, the loss was personal.
"It changed the university and it's an incredible legacy for the future," she said.
Baker helped build Lehigh's Zoellner Arts Center and its Baker Concert Hall. He's also the name behind the Baker Institute of Entrepreneurship.
"Innovative and creative students will come here because of the Baker Institute and because of the arts programs," said Gast.
Baker's death even came as a shock to Lehigh's president, who said she just saw him on campus last week. Just two weeks ago, Baker attended the school's Creativity and Innovation Launch Party.
Gast said the school is planning a memorial.
"He changed a lot of things in the Valley as well," she said. "He's been a huge supporter of the arts."
Funeral service information will be released shortly, according to Karen Scherer with the Boy Scouts of America Minsi Trails Council, where Baker served as an executive board member.
"His insight, creativity and generosity will continue to be seen in the Urban Scouting program for many years to come," she said.
Condolences to the family may be emailed to DexterBakerFamily@gmail.com or sent to Bachman, Kulik & Reinsmith Funeral Home, 1629 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18102.
Contributions: Memorial contributions may be made to Lehigh Valley youth and arts organizations or the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation at Lehigh University.