First son of special education turns 100

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 18, 2010 at 7:51 PM

SEATTLE - He was refused access to Seattle schools because of his mental disability, but now, nearly a centry later, Ed Baker is leaving a legacy for future generations.

Baker turns 100 years old this week and has seen first-hand how special education has changed in Washington.

When he was a child, his mother tried to enroll him in Seattle public schools. Ed was considered an "imbecile" by society in those days - someone who couldn't be educated.

His parents moved to what is now the Sammamish Plateau, bought 33 acres of land and opened a chicken farm. They also built a tiny two room school house and started educating their boy when nobody else would.

"It was one of the very first special education classrooms in the state," says Bill Dussault, Baker's legal guardian.

After Baker's parents passed away, Dussault sold much of the family homestead to Centex home builders, with a few conditions. Among them - that they keep a home for Baker.

He now lives on a secluded, 2.5 acre lot off the development with his caretaker. Centex also kept the old farmhouse as a tribute to the work and dedication of the Baker family.

Baker is celebrating his 100th birthday at a dinner atop the Space Needle Thursday night. When he passes on, the proceeds from the sale to Centex, about $3.8 million, will be donated to The Arc, which advocates for the rights of citizens with developmental disabilities.

Baker, who has the intellectual capacity of a 6-year-old, says his secret to long life is "a glass of rootbeer every day, and being nice to people."

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