Melvin Houston Baker was born August 11, 1886, in Sevierville, Tennessee, the son of Joseph and Amanda B. (Fox) Baker. He was a student at the Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tennessee, for two years.
On April 19, 1920, he married Frances Yeager and they had two children: Melvin Houston, Jr. and Jevene Hope. He was of Scotch-Irish descent and his ancestors came first to Virginia from England.
Mr. Baker began his career as a salesman for Miller Manufacturing Company from 1908 to 1912. He joined the Beaver Board Company, as a salesman from 1912 to 1914, becoming sales manager from 1914 to 1922. He was one of the founders of National Gypsum Company where he held the position of vice president from 1925 to 1928, when he was elected president. Baker retired from the thriving business in 1965 at 79 years of age, ending 40 years of service with the company he founded. On more than one occasion, during those years, he said: "This business is my life."
For recreation, Baker occasionally hunted pheasant, played an indifferent game of golf and delighted in flying around the country in the company's plane. In later years, he spent part of his winters in Florida. For him, recreation was an afterthought. The trappings of comfortable living belied the hard drive to accomplish which motivated him from his youth.
Melvin H. Baker died in 1976 at age 91.
Baker's daughter, Jevene Hope Baker, married Douglas B. Littlewood who became company secretary. A native of Buffalo, Littlewood graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Harvard Business School. He joined National Gypsum in 1949 as assistant to the secretary. Previously he had served for three years as an officer in the U.S. Navy. As company secretary, he directed shareholder relations and all the company's stock transactions.
Jevene Hope Baker Littlewood died in 2008 at age 81. Jevene and Doug Littlewood had two sons, Douglas B. and Dean H. and a daughter, Laurie.
Melvin H. Baker, Jr., worked in the Albany Sales Office.