Wesley Bakker


Wes BakkerWesley Bakker age 88 of Westbrook, passed away Thursday, May 23, 2019 at Our House Hospice of Murray County in Slayton, after an extended illness.  Memorial Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 14 at the Westbrook Funeral Home.  Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.  Burial is in the Jeffers Cemetery.  Stephens Funeral Service – Westbrook Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Wesley Bakker was born April 11, 1931 on the farm he still called home in Ann Township, Cottonwood County, Minnesota.  He was the youngest of five children born to Klaas and Mary (Cook) Bakker.  He learned early on how to work, was never lonely or hungry, and was a small part of a great big clan that took in most of Cottonwood County.  He grew up rich in all the things that mattered.  He braved the elements as he walked to country school at District 43.  He graduated from Westbrook High School in 1949.  Every day after school he came home and fulfilled all of his chores related to cows, hogs, chickens and horses. Wes and his brothers took care of the outside chores while their sister, Lila, helped in the house to support such a large family. Wesley served his country in Japan after the A-Bombs fell.  He was in the 50th Signal Battalion, and his job was to keep vehicles running as needed.  He was eventually responsible for ordering, shipping, and storage of parts.  Wes spent his furlough time sight-seeing Japan.  His platoon adopted an orphanage.  He sent souvenirs home to the family; filled bags with photos and slides.  Settled into farming the family acres, Wes made it possible for his aging parents to winter in California, where his brother Percy had his home.  Many relatives had also moved to CA, so Wesley visited there when he could.  He became deeply interested in the study of California costal Native Americans.  Working with the Orange Coast Archaeological Society and the Bowers Museum of Santa Ana, he learned the necessities of exacting archaeological work and record keeping.  This passion grew to encompass ancient peoples nationwide, and finally, especially early tribes of the Midwest.  Wesley began to study in earnest the mysteries of the Jeffers Petroglyph site and was instrumental in its acquisition and protection by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1966.  Wesley also brought home from the west a bride and two step-children.  Wesley and JoAn were married on August 12, 1975 in Laguna Beach, CA.  JoAn had majored in anthropology at UCLB and helped with costal digs with OCAS, so happily stepped into the work at Jeffers.  The Bakkers slowly built up a collection of artifacts and relics that grew to require they add a museum room onto their home.  Wes continued to share his knowledge and materials with students from the U of M, and to work at Indian sites and to study about Indian ways.  Aside from farming and his hobbies, the service organizations of VFW and American Legion were very important parts of his life.  Once their three children were grown and off on their own, the Bakkers did some traveling and touched down in nearly every state of the Union.

Wesley is survived by his wife, JoAn of 43 years; children: Joel McKinney of Walnut Grove, Jill McKinney of Cost Mesa, CA, and Eric (Dawn) Bakker of San Clemente, CA; 5 grandchildren: Justin, Erin, and Abby McKinney, and Jessica and Zachary Bakker; 7 great-grandchildren; brother Percy Bakker of Hesperia, CA; and many nieces and nephews.  He is preceded in death by his parents, grandson Liam McKinney, 2 brothers, and 1 sister.


  1. Eunice Christensen says

    JoAn and family, please know you have my sympathy in the loss of Wes. His obituary was very interesting to read. I didn’t know him well, but he certainly lived an adventurous and varied life. Please know, JoAn, you are and will be in my thoughts and prayers. Love, Eunie (Eunice) Christensen, Clive, IA.

  2. Mike and Marilyn Peschges says

    I am sorry to hear of Wes’ passing, although I know he struggled for some time. I so enjoyed visiting with you both in the store and on the mail route….you have my deepest sympathy. Marilyn (Schmitt) and Mike Peschges

  3. LuAnn Hudson says

    JoAn, we are all so sorry to hear about Wes. He was a member of our family when I was growing up, spent holidays at our house, attended all of the graduation parties and other events, went on many camping trips, did archaeological digs and was a founding member of the archaeological group. I remember going up to Canada with Jill in our VW Beetle, you and Wes in your pickup camper and Mom and Dad with their camper. I hope that memories of your life with Wes will give you some comfort in this sad time. Love, LuAnn

  4. Rebecca Hudson says

    My sister LuAnn so completely expressed the sentiments that echo my feelings. When we were growing up Wes was an uncle to us and we loved when he spent time at our house. His calm demeanor, sense of humor and thirst for knowledge were all such wonderful traits and made him such a lovable person. When you came on the scene, JoAn, we embraced you wholeheartedly and enjoyed visits to the farm and traveling to northern Minnesota together. We are all so fortunate to have known Wesley Bakker. Sending all my love, Rebecca

  5. Helen Pedersen says

    Dear JoAnn and family, My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time of loss. I don’t know if you remember me, but you surely remember Clyde through Archaeological endeavors. I appreciated Joel stepping in for Clyde (Pete) when he had to have heart surgery and had planned to teach a sr. college class at SMSU that fall. We were so grateful. We, you and Wes and Pete and I did get together now and then. They were always good times. And JoAnn, I’ve always meant to send you a note to tell you I have a copy of your delightful book “The Treasure in the Wall” and enjoyed sharing it with the younger grandkids. But now, my thoughts are with you all. Blessings to you.

  6. Jacquie Schmidt says

    JoAn, We are so saddened to hear of Wes’ passing! I am going to miss seeing him come to the farm for the Jensen family events, and into the office every so often for business purposes. You two are so special to all of us. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. Sending you hugs and all of our love!

    Love, Jacquie (Rick & Cindy Jensen’s daughter) & Todd Schmidt & family

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