Wesley Bakker age 88 of Westbrook, passed away Thursday, May 23, 2019 at Our House Hospice of Murray County in Slayton, after an extended illness. Memorial Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 14 at the Westbrook Funeral Home. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Burial is in the Jeffers Cemetery. Stephens Funeral Service – Westbrook Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Wesley Bakker was born April 11, 1931 on the farm he still called home in Ann Township, Cottonwood County, Minnesota. He was the youngest of five children born to Klaas and Mary (Cook) Bakker. He learned early on how to work, was never lonely or hungry, and was a small part of a great big clan that took in most of Cottonwood County. He grew up rich in all the things that mattered. He braved the elements as he walked to country school at District 43. He graduated from Westbrook High School in 1949. Every day after school he came home and fulfilled all of his chores related to cows, hogs, chickens and horses. Wes and his brothers took care of the outside chores while their sister, Lila, helped in the house to support such a large family. Wesley served his country in Japan after the A-Bombs fell. He was in the 50th Signal Battalion, and his job was to keep vehicles running as needed. He was eventually responsible for ordering, shipping, and storage of parts. Wes spent his furlough time sight-seeing Japan. His platoon adopted an orphanage. He sent souvenirs home to the family; filled bags with photos and slides. Settled into farming the family acres, Wes made it possible for his aging parents to winter in California, where his brother Percy had his home. Many relatives had also moved to CA, so Wesley visited there when he could. He became deeply interested in the study of California costal Native Americans. Working with the Orange Coast Archaeological Society and the Bowers Museum of Santa Ana, he learned the necessities of exacting archaeological work and record keeping. This passion grew to encompass ancient peoples nationwide, and finally, especially early tribes of the Midwest. Wesley began to study in earnest the mysteries of the Jeffers Petroglyph site and was instrumental in its acquisition and protection by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1966. Wesley also brought home from the west a bride and two step-children. Wesley and JoAn were married on August 12, 1975 in Laguna Beach, CA. JoAn had majored in anthropology at UCLB and helped with costal digs with OCAS, so happily stepped into the work at Jeffers. The Bakkers slowly built up a collection of artifacts and relics that grew to require they add a museum room onto their home. Wes continued to share his knowledge and materials with students from the U of M, and to work at Indian sites and to study about Indian ways. Aside from farming and his hobbies, the service organizations of VFW and American Legion were very important parts of his life. Once their three children were grown and off on their own, the Bakkers did some traveling and touched down in nearly every state of the Union.
Wesley is survived by his wife, JoAn of 43 years; children: Joel McKinney of Walnut Grove, Jill McKinney of Cost Mesa, CA, and Eric (Dawn) Bakker of San Clemente, CA; 5 grandchildren: Justin, Erin, and Abby McKinney, and Jessica and Zachary Bakker; 7 great-grandchildren; brother Percy Bakker of Hesperia, CA; and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, grandson Liam McKinney, 2 brothers, and 1 sister.