In 1956, I had the honor of playing basketball with
the best player in the history of Mt. Si basketball. His
name was Bruce Baker.
At the time, the KingCo League had six high schools
– Mt Si, Issaquah, Bothell, Foster, Bellevue and Lake
Bellevue and Lake Washington had more students
in their senior class than Mt. Si had in 4 grades. We
won the league on the back of Bruce. He averaged 27
points per game and scored 273 points total for 10
games. This record lasted for 15 years. There was no 3
point line in ‘56 or he would have scored many more
points. One kid from Mercer Island broke his record
but he had to play in two more games to do it and he
only broke the record by 3 points.
Our last game for the season we played Issaquah
at Issaquah. Bruce scored 35 points that night. The
Issaquah fans were so irate we had to escorted by the
Issaquah police and the WSP from the gym to our
bus. Bruce’s dad was Sergeant of the Washington State
Patrol. He stood at the door while we exited. Not one
Issaquah player or fan exited the auditorium before
us. We also kicked their asses at football in ‘56. Ah, the
good old days!
Bruce was elected 1st Team All Conference End in ‘56.
The vote came from the KingCo Coaches Association.
Bruce was All League End. In 2006, Mt. Si won the
KingCo basketball title, the first time in 50 years.
Bruce was offered scholarships from every major
pacific coast college. He chose WSU because of their
police science program. During his freshman year he
ruptured a disc in his back. His competitive basketball
days were over.
Bruce fell in love with his future wife, Barb
Blankanship, while at WSU. He graduated in ‘60 in
In ‘61 he attended the Washington State police
Academy in Shelton, WA. He married Barb in ‘60.
They were married nearly 60 years. They had three
children and five grandchildren.
Bruce went back to the Academy as an instructor. In
January ‘62, he became a Trooper for the Washington
State Patrol. In ‘70 Bruce as a Sergeant, ‘75 Lieutenant,
‘82 Captain, ‘84 Major, ‘85 Bureau Chief and in 1988
As an instructor, Bruce stressed to his students what
he considered the two most important aspects to a
successful life. 1. Love of Country. 2. Integrity.
Bruce and Barb became snowbirds. They had a home
in Arizona and Shelton. Barb often beat Bruce at
racquetball. Bruce had some episodes of passing out.
After one week of testing, the diagnosis was acute
myeloid leukemia and he passed away 10 days later
on June 23.
Barb has set a date of April 18 for Bruce’s memorial,
Covid-19 willing. The exact date, time and location
will be in the Valley Record at a later date.
Barb would love to hear from Valley friends. Her
number is 360-764-8187. Just one more thing – thanks
for being my friend for 76 years Bake.