Tropical 10

Dr. Darren P. Baker

September 15, 2022
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Obituary

 

 

 

Dr. Darren P. Baker, died suddenly Thursday, September 15th, 2022. Darren was born June 9th, 1965 at 3
Byeways, Rother Dale, Southampton, England. He was delivered at home; his brother fondly recounts
being taken out to see Mary Poppins and returning to a new sibling. Attending the Woolston School from
age 12 to 16, Darren’s youth was filled with adventure. He passed the time playing football, rugby, and
most importantly, pulling all-nighters to fish the rivers and lakes of Southampton. While most children
aspire to the likes of athletes and astronauts, Darren focused on naturalist heroes like Jacques Cousteau
and David Attenborough. Building on this passion, Darren targeted the sciences in his studies, earning a
B.A. in microbiology from Swansea University in 1986.


Further evincing his hunger for learning, he enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Glasgow
only a few months after receiving his undergraduate degree. While the degree included equal parts pints
and protein purification, his time in Scotland is best characterized by his Ford Escort. A two-door, sedan,
Darren removed the vehicle’s passenger seat, allowing just enough room to build a platform bed for
overnight trips. In typical Darren fashion, after a week in the lab, he’d set off to Loch Lomond or Loch
Long for a multi-day, solo fishing trip often returning with stories of record-breaking pike and
undeveloped photos. After his dissertation defending research on “purification and characterization of D
(-)-mandelate dehydrogenase from the yeast Rhodotorula graminis” he set off to Zurich, Switzerland for
post-doctoral research.


Taking a break after a year in the lab, Darren visited the States, attending a dinner party at his friend
Maureen Parker’s house. Much to his surprise, he met a similarly sarcastic and witty Scot named Trish
and they hit it off instantly. The pair moved quickly, spending a total of 12 days together during the
subsequent year, followed shortly thereafter by an engagement in Nantucket. Their Newport wedding led
to U.S. emigration, where Darren took a professorship at Boston College, commuting daily from
Burlington, MA to teach biochemistry. Their stay in Rhode Island was short-lived, and they moved to
Hingham, MA, in 1996, where their first son, Cameron, was born one year later.
The change in scenery also prompted a change in career as Darren started what would become a 20-year
stint at the biotech company Biogen. Despite his years in the lab, numerous publications, and work on the
Multiple Schlerosis drug Plegrity, Darren is best remembered by his colleagues as “the guy who would
ask the questions everyone was thinking but too afraid to ask.” He was particularly excited when the
company merged with San Diego-based Idec — not because of the exciting drugs and added stability it
brought to the company, but rather, the West Coast fishing it made available. As longtime friend and
colleague, Chris Ehrenfels, fondly remembers, “He always seemed to have a direct report or manager in
the San Diego office that NEEDED a visit.” Similarly, Darren loved to go to scientific conferences, but
only after very careful consideration of the local fish species and conditions. Continuing his mix of work
and pleasure, he convinced 4 colleagues to co-purchase a boat at Hingham Shipyard Marinas, a location
that strategically allowed him to fish both before and after the daily commute.


Although his career and hobbies comprised a central part of Darren’s identity, above all came his love for
friends and family. Father of Cameron, Jacqui, and Graeme, what he missed in remembering their names
(often calling Cameron by the name of one of their dogs), he made up for in care, compassion, and
unwavering support. Despite his love for the hard sciences and gripes with the liberal arts classes at
Hamilton and St. Lawrence, Darren remained a bulwark behind any of his children’s interests and
aspirations. He took great pride in his family, notably detailing their every move in his annual Christmas
letter, a continuous work-in-progress with both domestic and international versions. Through the ups and
downs of life, Darren was a constant presence for so many and never failed to share his wisdom along the
way. A beloved community member, colleague, and family figure, he brought life into every room and
touched every soul who crossed his path. He will be dearly missed.


A service of remembrance will be held at 11:00am, Saturday, September 24th at St. John’s Parish, 172
Main St., Hingham, MA.


Darren's family strongly urges in lieu of flowers donations in his memory be made to the below listed
funds.


A fund has been established at Citizen's Bank in Hingham to help the Baker family in the coming months
and years with expenses and with Graeme's education. If you would like to contribute, checks can be sent
to either:

• Meg Milton, 6 Marshall Road, Hingham, MA 02043 (Make check out to Meg Milton)
• Ally Donnelly, 227 Main Street, Hingham, MA 02043 (Make check out to Ally Donnelly).
You can also contribute using Venmo to Susan Nash, @sslaugenhaupt. Last 4 digits of the phone number
are 0023. Please include your name and address in the notes section of Venmo.
Finally, you can make a donation to the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation at
https://www.massoutdoorheritage.org/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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