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Oral history interview with Dexter F. Baker

  • 1995-Jan-27

Oral history interview with Dexter F. Baker

  • 1995-Jan-27

Dexter Baker begins the interview by discussing his childhood and early education in the suburbs of Philadelphia. After graduating from Upper Darby High in 1945, Baker was drafted into the US Navy and admitted to the Naval Academy Preparatory program. Before he completed the program, however, World War II ended, and Baker was discharged. He then enrolled at Lehigh University, where he studied mechanical engineering and developed an interest in turbines. After graduating in 1950, Baker took a job with Allis-Chalmers but was soon drafted into the US Army and served in the Korean War. While in the Army, Baker was appointed to the engineering research and development laboratories, where he worked on the development of high-speed, small-size gas turbine engines. After he had completed his two years in the Army, Baker accepted a position with Air Products and Chemicals in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. He worked in sales while attending night school at Lehigh to earn his MBA degree. He was soon sent to England to begin a division of Air Products in Europe. A decade later, Baker returned to the United States and completed his climb up the corporate ladder, becoming president of Air Products in 1978 and Chairman of the Board in 1986.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 34 pages
  • 2 h 2 m 29 s
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.  Bohning passed away in September 2011.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0131

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • April 16, 1927
  • Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
  • November 01, 2012
  • Houston, Texas, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1950 Lehigh University BS Mechanical Engineering
1957 Lehigh University MBA

Professional Experience

United States. Navy

  • 1945 to 1946 Seaman First Class

United States. Army

  • 1950 to 1952 Corps Engineer, Private First Class

Air Products and Chemicals, inc.

  • 1952 to 1956 Sales Engineer
  • 1956 to 1957 General Sales Manager, Process Equipment
  • 1957 to 1964 Managing Director, Air Products Limited
  • 1964 to 1967 Chief Executive of Air Products Operations in Europe
  • 1964 to 1998 Board of Directors
  • 1967 to 1978 Executive Vice President
  • 1978 to 1986 President
  • 1986 to 1992 Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
  • 1990 to 1992 Chairman of the Board, President
  • 1992 to 1998 Chairman, Executive Committee, Board of Directors


Year(s) Award
1991 Chemical Industry Award, Society of Chemical Industry

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PDF — 208 KB

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

5 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads