, Muskogee, OK

Local News

June 22, 2007

Baker’s Fish House co-owner dies at 79

Longtime Baker’s Fish House co-owner Viva Dean Baker died Friday. She was 79 years old.

She had practically been a fixture at the popular restaurant between Muskogee and Wagoner almost since it was opened by Verbal Baker in 1947.

At that time, the restaurant was located on old U.S. 69, just north of the Verdigris River bridge, said her son, Larry Coates, who, with his wife Becky, owns the restaurant today.

“They pretty much just served catfish, burgers and beer,” Coates said. “He also had gas pumps out front.”

The Bakers were married in 1949.

The business grew, and Baker soon added more dining space, Coates said.

When the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System was built and the river bridge was moved, the Bakers moved their restaurant south of the river and east of the new highway, just to the west of Vann’s Lake.

It has expanded once at the new location, Coates said.

Viva Dean Baker worked at the restaurant practically every day and did every job in the business, from cooking to serving as hostess.

“She did what you do,” Coates said.

He remembers his mother as a fun-loving person.

“Even at work, she was always wanting to have a good time,” he said.

Baker was a graduate of Wagoner High School and had lived in the community most of her life.

In addition to Coates, Baker is survived by another son, Jimmy Baker; three grandchildren, Alex and Carson Baker and Eric Coates; two brothers, Vernon and Frank Sullivan; and four sisters, Dorothy McDaniels, Mary Day, Joyce Lemley and Louella Fisher.

Verbal Baker preceded her in death nearly five years ago.

Services are pending with Mallett Funeral Home of Wagoner.

Reach Liz McMahan at 918-684-2926 orClick Here to Send Email

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