Johnnie Baker, Bridge Tender owner, dies; funeral scheduled Wednesday in Wrightsville Beach

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Johnnie Baker, longtime owner of Bridge Tender Restaurant & Marina and Fish House Grill, died at his Airlie Road home on Sunday, March 26. He was one day past his 79th birthday.

Baker was a deacon and elder at the Little Chapel on the Boardwalk in Wrightsville Beach, where a  celebration of his life is scheduled for Wednesday, March 29 at 3 p.m., with a reception to follow in the fellowship hall. His family said he had been ill and in failing health.

Baker’s family remembered his as a committed family man and lover of the outdoors. His wife, Estelle, owner of the Fisherman’s Wife, said Baker lived his life to the fullest, building strong relationships with family and friends, while going out of his way to help people in need.

“He loved his life,” she said. “I never realized when I fell in love with him 50 years ago that I would have the life I had with him. He and I had a relationship that not many couples have today.”

Estelle Baker said her husband will be remembered for his generosity.

“If he could figure out a way to help you, that’s what he would do,” she said. “He truly made a difference.”

Son Jay Baker said his father will also be remembered for his love of the water, particularly boating and fishing.

“He loved fishing like nothing else,” he said of his father, recalling the many fishing trips he took his family on throughout the years. “His favorite places to be were this porch or on the ocean. So long as he could see the water.”

He was a former member of the Board of Trustees at Cape Fear Academy and Barton College and a member of the board of First Citizens Bank in Wilmington. He was a master mason at St. John’s Masonic Lodge No. 1 in Wilmington. The family asks that memorial contributions can be made to Barton College, Shriner’s Hospital or The Little Chapel on the Boardwalk.

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