Remembering Kevin Baker: Skate Ranch Owner dies at 88

Kevin Baker, the beloved owner of the Skate Ranch of Lubbock, died earlier this week at the age of 88.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 6:26 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 6:28 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Kevin Baker, the beloved owner of the Skate Ranch of Lubbock, died earlier this week at the age of 88. Close family and friends say the impact he had on the Lubbock community will be everlasting.

Kevin Baker and his family opened the Skate Ranch of Lubbock in 1967. It was the height of the Civil Rights Movement; Baker’s sons say despite the possible social backlash, Kevin wanted his skating rink to be somewhere everyone felt welcome.

Kevin’s son, Lonn Baker, says, “A lot of other rink owners told him don’t allow black people to come into your rink, and from the very beginning, Dad said no, that is not how it is going to be here.”

When Kevin was behind the counter at the rink, he was taking care of customers and acted as a father figure to many Lubbock kids.

“Even in the middle of a busy session, if somebody was having a hard time, Dad would be trying to help them get their wheels under them,” Lonn said.

Lonn says his father was able to use a simple skating rink to touch many lives during his 55 years at the Skate Ranch.

“He used the rink as his ministry, to serve the community and the people that were here,” Lonn said.

It was not uncommon for Kevin to give fatherly advice, a free meal to those who needed it at the rink, and in some cases, he opened up his home and family to new friends like Javier Canizales. Javier moved to the United States from Venezuela in the 1990s. Shortly after he arrived, Kevin and Ann Baker took Javier in like he was their own.

“I had a birthday cake just like everybody else, Christmas presents just like everybody else, I ate at their table just like everybody else,” Canizales said.

Javier says Kevin took the time to teach him English, helped put him through college, and consistently checked in on him until the day he died. Javier says the impact Kevin had on his life will never be forgotten.

“I don’t know what I would have done without them. I honestly feel like I am who I am and I have what I have because of their help,” Canizales said.

After all of the years of teaching kids how to skate, taking rink hockey players to competitions, and mentoring Lubbock youth, those closest to Kevin will remember him as much more than just the owner of the Skate Ranch.

Kevin Baker was 88 years old.