Russell Baker was born on March 21, 1908, to Ida and Harry Baker, who owned a dairy farm in the Chehalem Valley. Eventually Russell bought this farm, and the acquisition of it caused him to seek out his personal values and God’s purpose for his farming life.
On October 12, 1962, the Columbus Day storm blew through western Oregon with hurricane-force winds. The Baker farm was hit especially hard. Irene Baker, Russell’s wife watched from the house as the storm reduced the dairy barn and silo to rubble. The Baker’s estimated losses were $40,000-$50,000 with no insurance to cover wind damage.
Russell thought he was financially finished. He wrote, “In meditating on what to do. I felt led to make a vow or covenant with the Lord…if He would bring me out of this mess, I would not only give a large part, but all.” In the next few years, Russell did recover from the storm damage, and according to his promise, he began to look for ways to use his farm for God’s work.
In 1968, Russell sold some of his property and purchased a tractor to use in developing the lake. In 1970, the Bakers donated the newly formed 15-acre lake, their new home, a barn, and the remaining 77 acres of the original Baker farm to the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends. In 1975, Tilikum came under the ministry of George Fox University. As of Jan. 1, 2012, ownership of Tilikum transferred back to the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends.
Other resources about Tilikum’s History:
The Essence of Tilikum – A Retreat Center Video from 1984. In 1984 Tilikum produced a double slide projector show that was shown in sync with an audio cassette. It’s clearly dated, but the primary message is still the same.