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home : obituaries : obituaries May 2, 2016

11/7/2012 8:00:00 AM
Ernest P. Baxter
March 23, 1928 - Nov. 3, 2012
Ernest Baxter
Ernest Baxter

Rochester businessman and civic leader, Mr. Ernest Parke Baxter, 84, was surrounded by his loving family when he passed away on Saturday, Nov. 3 at home.

Parke was born on March 23, 1928 in Kokomo, the son of Ernest O. and Alice Kreachbaum Baxter. Growing up, he shared his childhood with his sister Gloria. Parke graduated from Rochester High School as a proud Zebra, with his class in 1946. Active in student government he was president of his senior class.

Following high school, Parke continued his education at Purdue University, studying pharmacy. During his Purdue years, he was a member of the Alpha Kappa Lambda Fraternity and the Kappa Psi, exclusive to pharmacy students. In 1950, he was awarded his Bachelor of Science in pharmacy.

Grandpa Parke laid the Purdue University ground work for the Baxter men. His son, Doug, graduated from Purdue. All three grandsons are proud Boiler graduates. Great-grandson Austin has talked about returning to West Lafayette, making it four generations for the old gold and black.

On Aug. 14, 1949 at the Burton United Methodist Church, Parke married his best friend and the love of his life Frances "Fran" G. Castleman. They shared over 63 years of life's adventures. Together, they brought their two children, Doug and LeeAnn, into the world. The family tree continued to grow with the added blessings of three grandsons and five great-grandchildren. 

From 1952 to 1953, Parke served our country as a member of the 4th infantry division with the U.S. Army during the occupation of Germany. During his stint of service, Doug was born. Doug was 11 months old before he met his dad.

Returning to Rochester, Parke and his family settled in and he served our community as the pharmacist, friend, consultant, confidant and owner of Baxter's Drug Store.

A community servant and philanthropist, Parke enjoyed a wide social circle of friends. He was a loyal and devoted 50-year member of the Grace United Methodist Church. He also held 50-year memberships with the South Bend Scottish Rite, Rochester Kiwanis, local Masonic Lodge and the Indiana Pharmacists Association.

Parke was a charter board member of the Northern Indiana Community Foundation, making the initial investment through Baxter Inc, to the foundation. Mr. Baxter also served on the board for stints with the Rochester Community Schools, Fulton County Sherriff's Merit Board and the Fulton County Park Board.

Mr. Baxter was honored by the Rochester Lake Manitou Chamber of Commerce, being presented with the Distinguished Community Service Award in 1993.

In June of 2011, Parke and Fran were inducted into the RHS Athletic Hall of Fame for their undying enthusiasm, presence and many financial contributions made to RHS athletic teams.

In 1969, the Baxter Beauties All-Star Girls Softball team was born. Parke and Fran supplied generous financial assistance for equipment, uniforms and trips to the nationals in New York. The RHS chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has benefited from the love, guidance, presence and financial support of the Baxters, who attended many camps and retreats over the years with the student athletes.

The Baxters, lifetime season ticket holders, have spent countless hours on RHS bleachers in support of and cheering on thousands of RHS athletes, for they are among the most loyal Zebra fans in the stands. Boiler-up, Parke was an avid follower of his alma mater, all of the Purdue sports teams, the Cubs and the Colts.

The "Patch," a special home away from home in the country, was a rustic locale that offered the family an opportunity to get up close and personal with nature, wildlife and the changing seasons. Parke savored the time spent here with family. It was totally family time, enjoying the cabin, that embraced the shores of a pristine O'Blenis Lake. The compound was complete with outdoor plumbing. There were many memories made during the holidays.

Relaxing at the lake was his forte with his favorite casting or fly rod. One time, Parke landed the catch of the day, known affectionately as "Walter." The legendary fish was later stuffed to preserve the evidence.

In earlier years, Parke and Fran walked the trails and hunted mushrooms each spring. They hid Easter eggs for the hunt and cooked out on the open fire. More recently, Parke and Fran looked forward to the warmth of the summer breeze, as they enjoyed rambling around the trails on their Gator.

As the patriarch of the Baxter clan, Parke was especially proud of his legacy of three generations that he cherished and influenced over the years. It was time spent with all of them that meant the most.

Parke will be missed by his RHS and FCA athletes, community associates, church family, Baxter Drug family and many friends he made during his life's journey. Our community of friendship and pride is a better place because of the Baxter family. One thing Parke wanted everyone to know, "I sure did enjoy my time with them."

Parke is lovingly remembered by his wife Fran, at home; a daughter, LeeAnn Pollock and husband Buddy; a son, Douglas Baxter and wife Christina, all of Rochester; three grandsons, Dr. George E. "Chip" Pollock Ph.D. and wife Amy, of Redondo Beach, Calif., Chad Baxter, of Rochester, and Josh Baxter, of Oklahoma City, Okla.; five great-grandchildren, Imogen Pearl Pollock, George Edward Pollock V, Felix Parke Pollock, Austin Parke Baxter, and Eva Katherine Baxter; and one sister, Gloria Ann Gallop, of Cornwall, Pa.

Those family members who went before Parke are his mother, Alice, in 1976; father, Ernest O., in 1997, and stepmother, Berniece, in 1995. 

A celebration of the life of Mr. Ernest Parke Baxter is at 2 p.m. on Sunday Nov. 11 at the Good Family Funeral Home, Rochester, with Pastor Maurice Grindle officiating.

His family will greet friends from 3-7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10 and an hour prior to services on Sunday.

Military rites will be conducted by the Fulton County Veterans Honor Guard and the U.S. Army Honor Guard.

Preferred memorials may be made to the Grace United Methodist Church or the Northern Indiana Community Foundation.

You may wish to sign Parke's guestbook or light a candle to honor his memory at

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012
Article comment by: Cindy York

Dear Fran and family,
I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm one of those Baxters Beauties that won the state championship in Rochester and traveled to Binghamton, NY in 1977 to compete in the National Softball Tournament. I'm so proud to have been part of your lives. He will be missed. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Article comment by: Michael Hornstein

So sorry to hear of your loss! Parke is a special man! Our prayers are with all of you as you celebrate his life. May the peace that passes all of our understanding through the Lord Jesus Christ be with each of you today and always! Sorry we could not be with you today! Sincerly, Mike and Wanda Hornstein

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Article comment by: Paul Shirley

Dear Baxter Family,

I am so sorry for your loss as we celebrate Parke's life. We are blessed to have shared him with you over these many years. He was a role model, father figure and often our biggest fan, not just for one but for all. He was always willing to share his most valuable resource...his time...with any one of us who was in need. His friendship for us as individuals, families and community was filled with the love of the Christ that was reflected in each embracing smile that he offered. No words can fully express how much he meant to us during his (and our) brief stay on earth. I know that the world was made a better place because of him.

We love you Parke!!!

God's grace & peace...


Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Article comment by: Bea (Price) Stephenson

So many good memories of Parke behind the pharmacy counter. Always willing to help his customers in any way he could. He gave so much of himself to the community. He will be missed.

Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Article comment by: Mary Anne Heishman

Fran, Doug, and LeeAnn,
I'm so sorry to hear of Parke's passing. He was such a great guy, a second father to me. I'll always cherish the fond memories of working at the drugstore, snowball fights in front of the mirror, having you sponsor our first girls softball team in Rochester, and the many trips to ballgames together. My prayers are with you at this time.

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