Giving Back to Our Community

For more than 74 years the Baker family owned and published the Tacoma News Tribune. In 1986 Elbert sold The Tacoma News Tribune to McClatchy Newspapers. Taking $1.5 million from the sale of the News Tribune, he established The Baker Trust and Foundation in 1987 to provide funding for Tacoma youth programs, arts and education. “Tacoma did so much for my father; he just wanted to give something back,” said Elbert’s daughter, Martine, a former director.

In 1995 Elbert Baker died, leaving his family to continue the labor of love he had begun. Elbert loved the city of Tacoma, its people, and its institutions. His vision for the Foundation was that it should provide a legacy of fine arts, education, and health institution funding for the community, emphasizing programs for youth. The trust grows each year by about $100,000 in assets and it disperses at least five percent of its total annually. Recipients are determined by the Baker Foundation board, family members who each contribute to the trust financially.

Supporting the Future

The Baker Foundation has provided funding for the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, children’s art programs, local theater, and many annual events. The Baker Foundation Scholarship is awarded each year to seniors graduating from Tacoma high schools who show academic and civic merit. The Frank S. Baker Center is home to Day Surgery of Tacoma and other medical treatment facilities. The Sprague Building was rededicated as The Betye Martin Baker Human Service Center in 1995 after a major gift from Elbert Baker made complete renovation of the building possible.

The Baker Foundation is dedicated to preserving and furthering the vision of its founder through many years ahead. Like Elbert H. Baker II, the Foundation is a dynamic yet quiet influence in the community he loved. The people and institutions of Tacoma and Pierce County will continue to benefit from his vision for many generations

To read more about our Founder, Elbert Baker, click here.

Management Biographies

Robert W. Bethke – Executive Director

Bob Bethke is the grandson of Elbert H. Baker the founder of The Baker Foundation. At the time of his death in 1995 Elbert H. Baker II had led the foundation for almost ten years. After Elbert’s death Bob made the decision to join the foundation as the Executive Director.     It was his feeling that a member of the family should follow out his grandfather’s vision of helping the youth of Pierce County. Bob Bethke is a resident of Tacoma where he lives with his wife and three children.

For the past twenty-five years he has not only led the foundation as the Executive Director but also served community organizations that are congruent with the foundation’s mission.   He is a past board member of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, Franciscan Foundation, The First Tee of South Puget Sound and Pacific Harbors Council Boy Scouts (Bob is an Eagle Scout.)    He is also a past member of Rotary 8 in Tacoma.

Mr. Bethke is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Finance and Business Economics.       Before joining The Baker Foundation he worked for the Seattle Mortgage Company in Seattle from 1990-1994.

Sydney J. Parker – Administrative Director

Sydney Parker has served as Administrative Director of The Baker Foundation since its inception in 1986.     She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the foundation, and also acts as business manager.

Sydney Parker has served on various boards over the past 36 years including The Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, Pierce County Arts Fund, Child Abuse Prevention Resources and Hilltop Artists in Residence. She has also been involved with Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation, serving as Procurement Chair for “Jingle Bell Jam,” part of Festival of Trees.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Parker worked as Corporate Secretary for The Tribune Publishing Company.