Gary Baas ’61
Gary L. Baas, age 81, passed away peacefully on March 16, 2020, in Grand Haven, Michigan. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 27, 1938, to the late Edward M. and Margaret (Dornbos) Baas. Gary and his wife, Paula, have resided in Grand Haven for over 50 years.
After moving to Grand Haven as a child, Gary graduated from Grand Haven High School. He attended Hope College for his undergraduate degree in psychology and received his master’s degree in behavioral science from Michigan State University. Before pursuing a career in psychology, Gary wanted to give the family business a try and never looked back. He attended the Institute of Retail Management at New York University and he joined his father, Ed, in 1965 at the family store, Baas’ Store for Men. After marrying Paula in 1969, together they grew the business, Baas’ Inc., to include two Baas’ Stores for Men and two Country House women’s apparel shops in Grand Haven and Holland. Gary had an incredible sense of style and provided individualized attention to each and every customer, something he learned from his father. Exceptional customer service was an essential part of his philosophy.
In addition to his involvement in the stores, Gary was very active in community leadership, loved to travel and his family was very important to him. He served as a board member of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Michigan Retailers Association, Muskegon Museum of Art and Old Kent Bank. Gary spent a considerable amount of his time with the Grand Haven Rotary Club, Grand Haven Downtown Unlimited Merchant’s Organization, Grand Haven Planning Commission and Holland Downtown Development Association. He also served as an elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven. After retirement, Gary and his wife Paula traveled frequently and spent much of their time in Jupiter, Florida, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Gary is survived by his loving wife, Paula; and children: Heather Baas of Lake Forest, Illinois, and Hadley and Bill Streng of Grand Haven, Michigan; as well as three grandchildren: Clara, Joe and Will Streng. He is also survived by his brother, David Baas of Grand Haven; sister, Sarah Baas of Holland; sister-in-law, Ruth Bisacky of Spring Lake; and nephews: Aaron, Zak and Caleb (Stacey) Bisacky, all of Spring Lake.
Gary was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, Gary Bisacky.