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"Paul is a true
asset to our
Blast from the Past
Paul Baker, Class 33
What a joy it was for us visiting with Paul Baker of Class 33 the other day. It is easy to picture him stopping by a Scottsdale Boys and Girls Club branch, where he serves on their Board as the Vice Chair and head of their Development efforts, with a big smile on his face. He loves messing around with the kids as they try to return his very high 5’s. You see they don’t affectionally call him Tall Paul for nothing. Just imagine the kids laughing while jumping up in the air and trying to touch his hand. As we got to know him though, we realized he has been through a lot of ups and down in his life. Overcoming those obstacles has made him strong and confident. We think you will agree with us, he is a man who can be a great role model to all us.
Paul was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. He learned his love of sports and community involvement from his parents. His Father was a city councilman among many other civic positions in Lincoln. His Grandfather was a real community leader in the small town of Burwell, Nebraska. Sadly, Paul’s Mother passed away when he was young, but his extended family worked hard to give him a really good childhood. He told us he was 6’ 8” tall by the time he was 16 years old. And that size did not go to waste. He played basketball at a very high level in high school and at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Sports gave Paul a great sense of confidence in his ability to compete and succeed.
Lucky for us he decided to leave Nebraska in 1984, and moved to Scottsdale. He had visited hear before and loved the area and the weather. Paul tried the banking business when he first arrived in Scottsdale, but did not really like that. From there he got his Real Estate License and joined Russ Lyon Reality. He is now with Re/Max Fine Properties, and has been in residential real estate for 37 years. He credits his success in real estate to be being a good connector with people and serving their needs.
Paul met his wife Denise here in Scottsdale and they were married in 1991. It is plain to see that he works very hard at being a good family man. He knows how important that was for him while he was growing up. He and Denise had always wanted children but it just was not working for them right off the bat. They kept persevering though, and finally they were blessed when their daughter Rachel who was born in 1996. Now Rachel is married and starting her own family. Paul’s grandson was born 10 months ago. He has added being a doting Grandfather to his long list of titles, and he loves every minute of it.
He certainly took a page out of his Father and Grandfather’s playbook by getting involved with the community early on in his career. He joined the Scottsdale 20/30 Club in his mid-twenties and stayed as an active member until he was 39. Being active in that local organization, he certainly knew about Scottsdale Leadership but was just too busy to really commit the time needed to go through the program. In 2018 Melinda Gulick of Class 14, convinced him to apply for the program and he joined Class 33. Paul loved the program, and soaked in the knowledge that made him an even better community leader. Paul is still active with Scottsdale Leadership and has done a lot for our organization. A good example of that he regularly goes out to the community to secure valuable raffle prizes to sell at our Scottsdale Leadership Annual Luncheon.
Adversity can bring out the best in people. That is certainly true for Paul. He and his family overcame the pain of his mother’s passing away from cancer when was young. Paul and Denise had to keep believing after experiencing so many disappointments as they tried to have a baby. He also reminded us that there many times when he did not know where the next paycheck was coming from because of wild swings in the real estate market. The life lessons he learned from his family and his coaches gave him confidence and determination to get though. That determination drove him on to finish his college degree from Nebraska Wesleyan recently. He now has his actual degree, all be it 30 years after left college in the first place.
As we finished our time with Paul, we just realized that he really is a gentle giant of a man. He is always going to stand out in a crowd with his height, but there is just so much more that he has to offer. He may not be able to do the same things he once did on the basketball court, but he has learned to be a winner in so many other ways. A great example of this the honor he received from the Boy and Girls Club in 2021 with their prestigious Jim Hill Award.
The great teams he is a part of now don’t run up and down the court the way they used to when he was young. But make no mistake, they still really rely on him none the less. Paul is a true asset to our community. Scottsdale Leadership is very fortunate to have him as part of our alumni. And those who work with him are very fortunate to have him as a friend.