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Men We Love

It’s that time of year when èBella is mostly about the guys

Every year around this time, women-centric èBella salutes the men who light up our lives.

Our featured gent is a Southwest Florida household name: Jay Baker. Having changed the face of Naples, he was nominated by his business- and life partner, Patty. After more than three decades of marriage, Patty still thinks Jay is “like the Eveready Bunny and just as loveable … yet he doesn’t bang his own drum.” We think you’ll see why he is our featured Man We Love.

It’s not easy to get most men to go to the doctor. We spoke to Medical Director Dr. Linell King and Tom Everts, PA-C, IFMCP of Naples Vitality about why men should take charge of their health — and how to get them there.

We talked to two etiquette experts about raising gentlemen in today’s world. One has taught etiquette classes for 20 years, and the other has manners running through his veins, as a writer and direct descendant of Emily Post. The power of poise cannot be overlooked.

National Best Friends Day is coming up June 8, and we present an everlasting and somewhat unlikely friendship-to-marriage story between two extraordinary people, Marc and Lori Collins.

We’ve given you plenty of reasons to love others, love grace and love your health. We hope you’ll love the read.

 

CHAPTER 87

 
 
 

MEN WE LOVE

Living Life to the Fullest

“Lucky” in fortune and in love, Jay Baker is all about giving

by Kathy Grey

His family name is ubiquitous throughout Naples and other parts of the country.

But what is most striking about Jay Baker is the fact that he “is a man of integrity, depth and a big laugh … with a big heart to go along with it. He’s honest, sincere and very hardworking,” says his wife, Patty.

Confirmed in our conversation, he’s unquestionably down-to-earth. If he weren’t, he says, “My father would come down and strike me with bolt of lightning.”

What’s in a Name?

The Baker moniker is attached to illustrious local advancements made possible since Jay and Patty Baker moved to Naples in 2000. There’s The Baker Museum – Artis—Naples, NCH Baker Downtown Hospital, Baker Tower at NCH Healthcare System in North Naples, Baker Park and the new Baker Theatre and Education Center currently in progress for Gulfshore Playhouse.

And the Bakers’ theatrical philanthropy doesn’t end there. When The Naples Players sought to install a balcony in its existing space to increase seating by one-third, the Bakers stepped forward, naming the expansion for their beloved canine of 15 years, Kizzie Baker.

“I feel strongly about giving back financially, with your time, or both,” Baker says. Indeed, the Bakers’ philanthropic commitments include backing their financial support with their own expertise to help guide the endeavors.

The Pandemic Effect

“The pandemic changed everyone’s life,” Baker says magnanimously. “We stayed involved in things we were doing,” Baker says, noting that three of the four major projects are on track, and Baker-backed NCH endeavors are in the works.

The new Naples Senior Center building is on schedule to open this November, construction of The Naples Players’ Kizzie Baker Balcony begins at the end of this year’s season and work on the Baker Theatre and Education Center for Gulfshore Playhouse’s new building continues to move forward.  

During the restrictive pandemic period, Baker was grateful to remain busy in his quest to fulfill dreams for the community and other organizations, including serving on the board of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which helps at-risk young people across the country build character and teach life lessons.

“It’s a terrific organization. We serve over a million kids. What set us apart was we built (recreational) parks. It does so much good for underprivileged kids.”

There are more than 100 such parks in the U.S., including one in Naples and one bearing the Baker name in Immokalee.

Palliative Care Initiative

Baker is passionate about making palliative care an essential medical specialty, flourishing not only here in Southwest Florida, but nationally. To that end, the Bakers’ multimillion-dollar gift to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City resulted in The Patty and Jay Baker National Palliative Care Center.

“Patty and I have a personal connection to this issue,” Baker said in a Mount Sinai Health statement. “The care and compassion provided to my sister (Beverly) at Mount Sinai made all the difference in her survival and quality of life. Everyone should have easy access to palliative care services on the national level,” Baker said. “We have an ethical obligation to ensure that all aspects of the suffering of patients and families are addressed.”

Combined in this photo is Jay's love of his wife, Patty, and his love of baseball and the

Combined in this photo is Jay's love of his wife, Patty, and his love of baseball and the New York Yankees.

About Retail

Many articles have been written about Baker’s evolutionary steps through the retail ranks: moves that culminated in his retirement as CEO of Kohl’s, listed in 2021 as the largest department store retail chain in the U.S. He started his career by taking less money to work for the man at the top, whom he followed through a succession of retail positions.

“You’re very lucky when you have a mentor who’s in your corner. It’s a wonderful thing to be mentored, I’ve been a fortunate guy. There wasn’t a day I didn’t want to go to work. I think it’s really important to have a passion for doing something you really love.”

The Power of Two

Patty and Jay Baker have been married 33 years, having first met in Westport, Connecticut in 1985.

“My wife introduced us,” Baker says with a laugh. “She and I were in final divorce proceedings, and she suggested we meet at a restaurant to talk about things.”

When they arrived, his former wife spotted her boss across the room, who invited them for a drink with his date, who turned out to be Patty. Baker is eternally grateful to his ex for introducing him to his wife.

Baker grew up in a close and supportive family. The family didn’t have much, but his parents regularly contributed to charities. Patty’s background was similar, he says, which is why they are imbued with an ethic of giving.

Patty attended Hunter College in New York City and was inspired by the power of the performing and visual arts. Funded by the couple’s multimillion-dollar donation, Baker Hall at Hunter College gave the theatre department its own building.

With equal heart, Patty started building Jay, an ardent Yankees fan since age 6, a collection of team memorabilia 25 years ago. The Baseball Hall of Fame has been referred to it as the “greatest collection of Yankees memorabilia on the planet.”

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Jay and Patty at Baker Park with their grandkids

POWERFUL RELATIONSHIPS

An Inseparable Bond

Marc Collins describes the unique bond he shared with wife, Lori

National Best Friends Day is June 8, and it’s only fitting that we celebrate this special day with a love story.

 

Marc and Lori Collins were what some would consider an unlikely pair.

 

Marc worked for Lori’s family’s business. Lori had a disability and was confined to a wheelchair. Marc and Lori became best friends. After a few years, he asked for Lori’s hand in marriage.

 

“Lori spent her life in a wheelchair, but the limitations of her body did not define her life,” Marc said of Lori. She lived a lifetime of physical challenges that did not deter her love, wisdom or indomitable spirit.

 

Here, we present Marc’s tribute to Lori, the love of his life, written after she passed away unexpectedly at age 60.

 

Today is a special day. Today is our 20th anniversary. It certainly doesn’t look like I thought it would.

Rarely, no matter what, would you not see Lori with a smile on her face, giving you a big hug and a heartfelt “I love you.”  

She always thought the very best about others, hated any form of gossip and dismissed sarcasm. She was the absolute best judge of character I have ever known. She could see through all the “smoke and fog” quickly, yet she never judged and never spoke poorly of them, only a “Just be careful.”

She was a great listener. At night, once she was in bed, she’d call me into her room and say, “I was talking to (so and so); they’re going through a terrible time. Don’t forget to pray for them.”

She cared. She literally shared me and my time with so many people — an entire community and any charitable organization that needed my help. It required a lot of time, and her answer 99% of the time was, “I’m so proud of you, you did an awesome job.”

There were some things that she was physically unable to do, but no one was a more faithful supporter: “I know you’ve got that meeting after work today. Don’t worry; whatever time you get home, your dinner from Farmer’s Market will be in the fridge.” Or, when I felt like I was failing or just tired, there would be a card in my room, a Starbucks gift card or a bag of my all-time favorite, peanut M&M’s.

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Lori and Marc Collins ­­­­­

She found two committees that she served on and loved: Florida Repertory Theatre’s advisory committee and Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. (ACT). Her commitments were not to be compromised.

Three years ago, our anniversary was spent in ICU with a very grim outlook for Lori, yet she pushed through. She never gave up.

“Hang on, Floss,” I’d say. (That’s what I always called her.)

Every relationship is different; no relationship looks the same.

As I told her 20 years ago, “I can’t promise you won’t be mad enough to kill me at times, but I can promise you that you’ll never have to worry about being alone, and you’ll never be bored.”

She was the strong one. She was kind, loving, honest and wise.

This is 20 years for us today, and her 61st birthday will be here a week from today. I had hoped we would all be blessed by having Lori and her kind, loving heart for many more years. The adventure was just getting better and better and sweeter and sweeter.

I’m the luckiest person I know. “We’ll meet again some sunny day.”

 

From October 2021 through May 2022, the collection was showcased on the third floor of The Baker Museum at Artis—Naples, along with pieces from the Bakers’ fine art collection.

“It’s nice to have hobby,” Baker says in self-deprecating fashion. “It’s something I love. It was time to share it with the public.” And then, without missing a beat, he adds, “I guess if you have your name on the building, you get the whole (third) floor.”

With their two Shih Tzu pups, Lady Diana and Tina Turner, in residence, the Bakers lead a busy, contented life together.

“I get up every day and I’m very pleased,” Baker laughs.

“I loved life when I worked, and I love it post-retirement. We stay active, both for mind and body and have a wonderful life together. Sometimes it’s a little crazy, but I’m never bored.”

Jay on the phone with Yoko Ono who made a surprise call to sing happy birthday.  He was ce

Jay on the phone with Yoko Ono who made a surprise call to sing happy birthday. He was celebrating at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame annex in NYC.

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Getting Him There is Half the Battle

“Men don’t like to be told what to do or be signed up for things by their partners,” says Dr. Linell King, founder and medical director of Naples Vitality. “Do that and you’re going to get resistance. Even if a man thinks there’s something that needs improvement, it takes an earth-shattering event to get him to the doctor.”

The best way is to tap into his needs and make it an activity, a joint experience, the doctor advises.

“It’s extremely passive-aggressive,” he laughs, “but it works. Once he’s there, he realizes that it’s something he needs!”

Men are goal-oriented, and women are problem solvers, the doctor explains. Tactfully engaging in conversation about what he aspires to is motivating. If he’s complaining about his spare tire, encourage him to want to become more fit, first by gaining insight about the status of his health.

“We do seminars in the form of dinner talks,” Dr. King says. “The husband comes for the dinner. The wife comes for the subject matter.”

Tapping into his motivation to have more stamina, be slimmer and stronger … to have an abundance of energy to travel … those are motivators.

“I’m all about that,” Dr. King says, “and I believe that’s what speaks to them most.

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Dr. Linell King received his medical degree at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and completed his residency at Johns Hopkins University. He worked 15 years as an internal medicine physician, treating thousands of patients with life-threatening diseases. After seeing how his family had succumbed to the flaws of Western medicine, Dr. King left his practice and traveled the world, becoming trained in functional medicine and a holistic approach to wellness.

MEN'S HEALTH

Staying Ahead of Disease 

Five steps for men to take control of their health

by Tom Everts PA-C, IFMCP, Naples Vitality

June is Men’s Health Month, but it’s rare for a man to come in for a routine workup. Men don’t like going to the doctor. It’s cliché, but true. It is usually when things really start to go wrong that we go in, which makes it difficult to get ahead of the disease process and prevent unnecessary suffering. 

When we think about men’s health, what may come to mind is prostate cancer, which is no joke. But many prostate cancers will not present with symptoms until later stages.

Erectile dysfunction, on the other hand, gets the attention of men much sooner. Erectile dysfunction is a multidimensional condition associated with metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In addition, many men are beginning to experience symptoms of low testosterone much sooner than in previous decades. These symptoms include fatigue, decreased sex drive, loss of muscle mass and depression.

There are other chronic conditions that disproportionately afflict men, some of which are life-threatening, including heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Symptoms for these conditions include headaches, shortness of breath, tingling in the feet and frequent urination — all part of your body telling you that something is out of balance and it’s time to listen. 

Lifestyle plays a huge role in promoting or preventing the chronic diseases discussed above from taking over your life. Let’s take a look at some ways to prevent chronic disease.

Eating Strategy 

Eating a variety of vegetables, especially colorful vegetables, increases the amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients in our system. This helps reduce inflammation, a contributing factor to most chronic diseases. Limiting or avoiding high glycemic index foods is important to reduce the risk of elevated sugars and diabetes, which is directly linked to several male-specific conditions. 

Movement

Resistance training is a great way to send signals of vitality throughout our system and is key in promoting increased testosterone levels. High-intensity interval training is an efficient way to promote muscle growth and work our cardiovascular system. 

Stress Management 

This can take many different forms, the most recognizable being meditation. However, my suspicion is that most men aren’t going to jump into a meditation routine, though it would be a good idea. Here are some other things that help with stress: listening to music, walks in nature, art, deep breathing and exercise. 

Sleep 

Crucially important to regulating key hormones and inflammation, sleep is nonnegotiable in the discussion around chronic disease prevention. Get your seven to eight hours.

Community

Find a group you enjoy being around that shares a common interest. Maybe you’re currently fighting one of the chronic diseases listed above. There’s a group for that! Find the support you need to make lifestyle changes easier. 

It’s time to take control of your health, guys! Don’t let chronic disease negatively impact your quality of life. Go in for that checkup, get regular labs and implement the lifestyle changes shown to reduce your risks. There are communities out there to help you along this journey. You are not alone. 

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Tom Everts is a physician assistant with over seven years of clinical experience in family medicine and education in functional medicine through The Institute of Functional Medicine. As a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner at Naples Vitality, his approach to health is addressing modifiable lifestyle factors.

EMPOWERED LIVING

Raising Gentlemen in Today’s World

Boys to men: experts discuss key components of civility

by Kathy Grey

In our fractured and divided society, perhaps this is the ideal time to school our male children in the art of etiquette and manners. (Of course, it’s an essential skill for all children, but we want boys to grow up to be “Men We Love” and be featured in èBella èXtra down the line.) We talked to experts in the field of civility, and here’s what they had to say.

Etiquette by the Book

Daniel Post Senning is Emily Post’s great-great- grandson. He’s part of the five-generation family business that carries forth the Post mission of advocating for a civil society … about being ambassadors of decency and civility.

“I love the word (gentleman): ‘gentle man.’ You proceed with care and compassion, navigating with skill and kindness” through today’s fast-changing and complex world. Think before you act. Grow relationships sincerely, and make choices that honor them,” Senning advises. Why? Because other people’s lives matter, and “Being a gentleman inspires and attracts people. And if you make mistakes, you’re in a good position to recover.”

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Daniel Post Senning

For parents, guardians, teachers, big brothers and leaders in general, Senning says, “You have to be the person you want them to be,” modeling courtesy and respect. “How you navigate (human interaction) determines the quality of the life you live.”

 

Peter Post’s “Essential Manners for Men,” in its second edition, clearly illustrates that what Emily Post started in 1922 hasn’t gone out of fashion. In fact, the fully revised centennial edition of “Emily Post Etiquette” is just out, featuring essential material — everything from handling hard times to dining, communication and phone use. To learn more, visit https://emilypost.com.

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Suzanne Willis

Take Your Seats, Please

“Essential Manners for Men” is a guide used by Suzanne Willis, who’s been teaching Mimi’s Manners etiquette classes for 20 years at country clubs, hotels, restaurants and even at the Edison Home in Fort Myers.

Mostly girls attend her children’s classes, but there are a few boys, whose parents rave about their son’s improved courteousness, including helping around the house.

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Perhaps surprisingly, men seem keen about polishing their manners. Willis’ “Oh, Behave!” all-men’s etiquette class drew the attention of Southern Living magazine and was featured in 2005.

 

A similar class held at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples brought men to the table, too, not entirely of their own accord. An older man groused that his wife had signed him up. Another man’s wife asked him to meet her in the lobby at 6 p.m. for dinner. Instead, he was greeted by his best friend, who ushered him into the two-hour, three-course meal featuring etiquette as the main course.

“Once he saw it was all men, he felt it was OK,” Willis says.

Demographic representation varies. Classes at the Edison Home tend to be a bit lower key, versus the aforementioned classes at The Ritz or Sarasota’s Capital Grill.

Dating is an important topic to teens (“What’s my role on a date?”) as well as affluent men (“If we go shopping, do I carry all the bags? Do I walk behind her? How do we approach the limo?”) But the chaps mainly want to know, “What do women like?”

Boys learn chivalry a bit differently: how to hold the chair for your mom, for instance. Of course, table manners are high on the agenda, including how to hold your silverware, the polite way to eat bread and pass food, and being considerate — and interested — in the people around you.

Happily, these classes build friendships among boys who all learn that “Manners are the happy way of doing things,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson said. It’s a theme that runs through every Mimi’s Manners class.

Mimi — Willis’ company’s namesake — was her grandmother who taught her manners at home and who took 11-year-old Willis on a tour of the British Isles, visiting castles and gardens, where she further honed her etiquette skills.

“It was all senior citizens and me. Manners really helped, and it was a wake-up call. It made me want to travel, something I’ve done a lot of since. And now I’m sharing what I learned at age 11 — such an impressionable time in my life — to other people.”

In 2022, a year that seems increasingly “me first” for “people who are afraid they’re not going the get their fair share,” she’s observed a decline in thoughtfulness. Willis hopes that her classes, at least, will encourage consideration, compassion for others, practicing the golden rule and being well respected.

“I hope it gives them a good foundation and leaves a footprint for future generations.” If so, she says, “How you hold a fork isn’t the most important thing.”

FYI: FOR YOUR INSPIRATION

Mindful Musing

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“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”

 

— Marcus Aurelius

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