THE WOODLANDS, Texas — The beloved owner of the iconic Candy House in The Woodlands has died after being hospitalized for COVID-19.
Don Baker, 89, passed away over the weekend, his family said.
“He was the owner and operator of The Candy House for over 30 years. He proudly served the community in The Woodlands and touched the lives of over 3 generations of customers,” granddaughter Kelly Andrus said in a statement.
Baker and his wife ran the old-fashioned mom and pop business with old-school customer service. Customers say he never met a stranger and always found time to chat and share stories.
But, like many businesses, The Candy House struggled when the coronavirus pandemic forced them to shut down. When they were allowed to reopen with limited capacity, business was still slow.
In November, word spread that the store was in danger of closing, so the community rallied to help. Customers lined up and loaded up on candy and other goodies. Some waited as long as two hours. A gofundme.com page raised over $37,000.
"Mr. Donald Baker was a true gift to The Woodlands. He was one of those rare individuals that had a heart of gold always finding the good in people," said The Woodlands Township Director Dr. Ann Snyder. "Mr. Baker epitomized the spirit of small businesses as well as The Woodlands and was humbled by the incredible support he and his wife recently received by so many."
After learning of Baker’s death, longtime customers shared fond memories of him and trips to his store.
Leslie Cantu lived within walking distance of The Candy House.
“So sweet how he would bag everything up with care and offer to pay the tax so the kids could get $1 worth of candy with their dollar bill, their weekly reward for good manners,” Cantu posted on Facebook. “And though they make me cry at the moment, I’m so happy to have all these special memories with my kiddos and him and the amazing Candy House.”
"My life is so much richer having met Mr Baker. A consummate gentleman. Mr Baker made this world a better place for us all," Jack Whitman wrote.
Baker was a cancer survivor and Navy veteran who served in the Korean War from 1951-1954.
He was also a loving husband, father and grandfather, Andrus said.
Baker is survived by his wife of 66 years, Barbara Baker, his children, Donald Baker Jr., Barbara & John Maxx Lewis, Donelle Baker, Michelle & Buzzy Campbell, grandchildren Blaine & Josh Campbell, Gunner Lewis and Kelly Andrus.
There are no immediate plans for services, but Andrus said there will be a celebration of life in the future.