Baber dies in hospice named for wife

The retired Fort Dodge orthodontist who donated significant money to establish the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home spent his final moments there.

Dr. William E. Baber, 89, died Wednesday.

Baber donated $750,000 in the capital campaign for the hospice home because, he told The Messenger in 2007, Fort Dodge needed such a home and because he wanted to honor the memory of his late wife, Paula.

Paula Baber died in February 1999 from breast cancer in the den of the couple’s home.

Groundbreaking for the $2.5 million hospice home was Oct. 26, 2007. It was built on the Highland Park campus of Trinity Regional Medical Center at Ninth Avenue South and South 25th Street, offering eight patient rooms, each with a family sitting area and patio. The home includes a chapel, family great room, family kitchen, dining room and administrative offices.

Prior to her death, Paula Baber donated hundreds of volunteer hours at Trinity.

She eventually received in-home hospice care in her final days. It made a difference in her life and for her husband, he told The Messenger.

At the time of the groundbreaking for the hospice home, Baber said his wife was too humble to have wanted her name on the building, but he saw it as a way to honor her memory.

“My heart is in this project,” he said during the groundbreaking ceremonies. “This is something that Fort Dodge really needs.”

Dr. William Baber returned to Fort Dodge in 1965 to specialize in orthodontics. During his absence, he had earned a graduate degree from the University of Iowa.

He had practiced general dentistry for nine years before that return to school.

The Babers moved to Fort Dodge in 1954, when Baber first established his local dentistry practice.

He retired in 2002.

According to his obituary, which appears on page 5A today, memorials may be left to the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home.