Paul P. Baker
Diploma − Accountancy and Financial Administration, 1946
Partner, Paul P. Baker & Co.
2003 Distinguished Alumnus
During World War II, enrollment dwindled at Walsh Institute as young men and women went into the service or put their schooling aside to meet wartime workforce demands. However, Walsh marketer and administrator Archie Waring continued to make recruiting visits to local high schools. He convinced Paul Baker, Detroit Central High Class of ’43, that the Pace Course in Accountancy and Business Administration taught at Walsh would be good for his future.
World War II spurred the need for accounting, and employers were having difficulty finding enough help. Baker, who received a physical deferment from the military, had taken bookkeeping and other commercial-track courses in high school. He was hired immediately by a local firm, but decided to enroll in night school as well.
“I knew I wanted to go into public accounting and that to advance in the profession, I would need to prepare for the CPA exam. Going to Walsh was a means to that end,” said Baker, who took courses two nights a week.
Baker completed his studies in 1946, just as enrollment was starting to fill up with returning veterans resuming their education under the GI Bill. He joined a larger firm and became a partner.
An entrepreneur at heart, Baker started his own accounting business, Paul P. Baker & Co., in 1954. Since 1985, he has been in partnership with his son, James L. Baker (BAcct. ’82).
One of their first clients was Institute grad Richard Pearson (Diploma ’61). Pearson held Paul Baker in such high regard that he established the Paul P. Baker Endowed Scholarship for accounting students.
Now in his 80s, the senior Baker is still active in the firm and concentrates on trusts and estate work. “If I had gone with a large national firm, I wouldn’t still be working today. I like what I’m doing, and when you have your own private practice, you can keep going forever.”