Bidding Max Baker farewell

-A A +A

Expressions of appreciation flow in for retiring county official

By Carol A. Clark

Once in a great while a person comes along who so positively affects the lives of people around him that they feel compelled to publicly thank him.

Admiration and esteem for County Administrator Max Baker has poured in from family, friends and local, state and federal officials as word of his Wednesday retirement spread.


Both United States Senators from New Mexico sent their appreciation and best wishes to Baker from Washington, D.C.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman: “Max Baker is a trusted public servant who worked very hard on behalf of Los Alamos County. I hope he enjoys this next stage in his life.”

Sen. Tom Udall: Udall thanked Baker for his hard work and dedicated service to Los Alamos County. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Max over the years and wish him health, happiness and continued success in his future endeavors.”


LANL Deputy Director Isaac Richardson (Baker has spent a great deal of time on behalf of the community interacting with officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory): “We would like to thank Max for his many years of dedicated service to the people of Los Alamos and to Los Alamos National Laboratory. Although there have been times when the Laboratory and Los Alamos County have disagreed, Max was always a fair and straightforward negotiator. I think that firm leadership on the Trinity Project will be a key piece of his rich legacy in this community. We wish Max all the best of luck in his future endeavors and a heartfelt thanks on behalf of Los Alamos National Laboratory, his leadership will be missed.”

Assistant County Administrator Tony Mortillaro: Mortillaro succeeds Baker beginning Thursday. “Max is a good leader who always leads by his actions; he is very approachable and caring and dedicated to this community. What I will miss most is the continuity and his knowledge of the history of the organization and that I could always count on him to be supportive.”

County Attorney Mary McInerny: “Max and I personally share a lot of history working together on many issues from the time I joined the county in 1995. When I began as county attorney, Max was director of the finance department. He later became administrative services director, deputy county administrator under three different administrators, acting county administrator, interim county administrator and finally the county administrator.

Max should feel satisfied with all the accomplishments of the county under his leadership. Max held the county administrator position longer than any other person in recent county history and there are many good reasons for this — his high integrity, his ability to listen, his problem solving skills, his ability to keep the goal in sight, the value he placed in people to do the right thing and above all, his love of this community and all facets and ranks of employees in its local government.

Max worked extremely hard for all of us and because of his leadership, we are a better place to live, work and have fun.

He will be missed as an integral part of Los Alamos County government by all of us. I will miss your listening ear and thoughtful ways, Max. Enjoy some time off, especially on Tuesday nights — no more council meetings!”

County Council Chair Michael Wheeler: “Max provided the steady hand Los Alamos needed during a time of dramatic changes in our community. As Max has often said, 2005 was the turning point for our community and we can all thank him for making that a reality. His legacy of the excellent staff he hired will carry our community for many years to come.”

Council Vice Chair Mike Wismer: “As our highly respected county administrator, Max Baker’s leadership has gone far beyond the boundaries of local government. He has been active in professional organizations such as the New Mexico Municipal League and the National Association of Counties. He has had a major influence in solidifying partnerships with our Northern New Mexico neighbors and he has worked hard to successfully improve relationships with the schools, LANL, DOE and NNSA. More importantly though, Max Baker is a friend and colleague who cares deeply about Los Alamos as reflected by his years of dedicated, selfless service to the community. I salute Max Baker and say ‘thank you’.”

Former County Councilor Jim West: “Max, congratulations — what a wonderful accomplishment. You have achieved the goal most of us work so long and hard for. It is not the goal of quitting work but the goal of having much more control over how you spend your time and I hope you and Kath have a lot of plans for a great retirement. It has been an honor and a pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with you and to get to know you and your family and especially to have you as my great friend. It has been a privilege I will always cherish. I thank you for your friendship and wish you a wonderful, long, healthy and happy retirement.”

Police Chief Wayne Torpy: “Max is a considerate and thoughtful boss who hears all sides of an issue before making a final decision. He truly cares about Los Alamos as a community and about the employees of this organization. I know his leadership will be missed and I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Fire Chief Doug Tucker: “Max Baker’s main strength is the ability to look for win-win situations, while exhibiting honesty and integrity. His conviction is to himself, his family and those he serves. For me he was a mentor and a coach so what I will miss most is sitting and discussing life’s issues, including balancing work and family. Max and I both struggle at being loyal to two masters, work and family; so Max being willing to take time out of his busy day and sharing with me his experiences or something he read will be greatly missed. But it’s time for him to tilt the scales toward his wife Kath and his family.”


Kath Baker: “Max has always been the most dedicated and honest individual I have ever met. I am constantly amazed at his devotion toward the community’s best good. He values and exemplifies integrity, honesty and total commitment and is a believer that it doesn’t matter where you work, but how you work. Max is one who’s always given 100 percent and we appreciate him so much.”

Beth Given: (the Bakers’ eldest daughter who lives outside Denver): “When I was in eighth grade, Dad set aside several hours each evening to help me with my algebra homework. Through that one-on-one time, I began to internalize the things he had always taught through his example — the value of perseverance, of consistency, of thoroughness, of integrity. Those lessons not only applied to math homework but to life; and he was one who lived those values every day of his career.”

Alex Baker: (the Bakers’ second born who lives in Los Alamos): “My dad has always been a great example to me and I admire him very much. The respect he has earned in the community is a testament to his dedication, hard work and integrity.”

Ray Baker (the couple’s youngest who also lives in Los Alamos): “The good relationships Dad has with his co-workers at the county have touched me personally. They are almost an extended family, giving me love and support when I’ve needed it.”

Julia Baker (Max’s daughter-in-law through marriage to Alex): “Max is a great example of what a leader should be, both in the community and his family. He  is a wonderful father-in-law and grandpa.”

Emeline Baker: The Baker’s 3-year-old granddaughter summed up her feelings saying simply, “I love him because I like to play with Grandpa.”

The community is invited to attend a farewell open house in Baker’s honor from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday in Council Chambers inside the Community Building on 20th Street at Central Avenue.