Creston community honors deceased farmer as he completes harvest

Community means something different in Creston, according to John Baker, a 63-year-old farmer born and raised in the Union County town of about 7,500 people.

When Baker’s older brother, Paul Baker, died last week aged 66 – five days after being diagnosed with cancer – the community of Creston didn’t wait long to step up and help. More than 100 farmers and other volunteers came together on Thursday and used 20 combines, 40 grain carts and 38 semi-trailers to help John Baker harvest more than 600 acres of corn from 5 plots of land he owned with his brother, according to family friend Chad Rieck.

Putting their own crops on hold, the volunteer worked from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., enjoying coffee and donuts provided by the local John Deere dealer in the morning and bagged lunches in the afternoon from the local Farm Bureau, each containing handwritten notes. children from St. Malachy Catholic School in Creston.

More than 100 community members came out to help John Baker harvest more than 600 acres of corn a week after the unexpected death of his brother, Paul Baker.

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Rieck said Thursday’s harvest and the community support behind it was unlike anything he had ever seen before. It was an effort that Paul Baker would have joined had circumstances been different.

“He is quite simply the most caring and generous human in the world,” Rieck said. “There was never anyone he wouldn’t help.”

Paul Baker was the kind of person who always reached out to help others, his family said.

Paul Baker was an active member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Creston and a devoted family man, his brother said. He was known in his church community as the person who made everything work and who would be there anytime if anyone or anything needed help, Rieck said. According to Rieck, he was the kind of person who was so supportive he could even calm a crying baby.

“He just had this presence around him,” Rieck said.

While John Baker admitted it was difficult to contain his emotions throughout the day, he said the harvest went without major problems. At the end of the day, the group came together to celebrate a job well done and honor the life of Paul Baker and all that he did for his community.

Some of the volunteers who helped the Baker family with their fall harvest after the sudden death of Paul Baker from cancer.

“He was an amazing man,” John Baker said. “If I can do 25% of what he did, I’ll be happy.”

Paul Baker is survived by his wife, Lynn Baker, two daughters and two grandchildren.

Francesca Block is a breaking news reporter at the Des Moines Register. Contact her at [email protected].com or on Twitter at@francescablock3.

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