Allen Baca was born on April 15, 1921. He was raised in the south farming community of Orange Grove, Texas.
Baca served over four years in the Army Air Force during World War II as a radio operator/gunner with the 487th Bomb Group. He completed 33 missions over Europe during the war and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.
In 1945, he married Mary Dutton, and they settled in Corpus Christi. They had three daughters and two sons. Allen was the editor and publisher of the Corpus Christi Parish Post, the Nueces County Catholic Diocesean newspaper, for 14 years.
In his early 50’s, Baca received a degree in Criminology from Sam Houston State University. In the early 1970’s, he took a job in the Probation Department in Karnes City and several surrounding counties. In 1976, he accepted the opportunity to work for the Texas Commission on Jail Standards in Austin which launched a state career that would take him to retirement as he also worked in the Department of Community Affairs for the Texas Department on Aging.
With the influence from his job at the Texas Department on Aging, Baca implemented many new programs to help senior citizens and senior centers. Baca realized the need for persons on probation to get their education. Baca began volunteering with the Bell County Jail GED Program which led to Baca forming a GED program for seniors while working with the Texas Department on Aging. His program went into nearly 100 senior centers, and as a result of the literacy program, several senior centers participated in the first senior spelling bee.
Baca moved his family to Round Rock in October of 1976 and lived here for 26 years. “Round Rock was his hometown,” Eileen Clary said (Baca’s daughter). “He delighted in the fast paced growth of the city. When we visited, he would insist that he show us the new construction of shopping centers, factories, and housing developments that were popping up in Round Rock. He enjoyed being a part of the city’s growth, and served for several years on the Planning and Zoning commission.”
Baca was one of several Round Rock senior citizens who recognized the need for a Senior Activity Center in the City of Round Rock. With no official building or activity center, a group of Round Rock senior citizens were meeting in a small cottage building owned by the Williamson-Burnet County Opportunities Inc. (WBCO) which provides a nutrition program to senior citizens.
In 1990, Baca gathered his peers and led the Round Rock Senior “Think Tank,” a volunteer group which worked with the City of Round Rock to implement Round Rock’s first official City Senior Activity Center. Baca proposed that the former bank building at 201. E. Main Street be transformed into the Round Rock Senior Activity Center.
The cost to refurbish the bank building was $34,000. At a special City Council meeting, Mayor Mike Robinson and the Council arranged with Baca that if he and his Think Tank members could raise half of the cost, the city would match the other half of the funds.
Luckily, back when Baca worked for the Department of Community Affairs, he developed “Project Bootstrap” which gave information on fundraising and foundations. So in February of 1992, with Baca’s experience in foundation work and knowledge, the Think Tank filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of Texas and qualified for 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Baca was able to make the Think Tank a 501 c3 non-profit charitable organization, which is now known as the Round Rock Senior Citizens Foundation which is still an integral part of the fundraising and planning of senior programs. Through a series of fundraisers and hard work, the Think Tank raised the needed $17,000 which led to the opening of the Round Rock Senior Activity Center on October 25, 1993.
Besides timelessly working to promote senior activities in Round Rock, Baca had many hobbies. His son, Tom Baca said he always had a special place in his heart for planting and pruning, specifically rose bushes, of which he had over 30 different varieties, at one time. Baca was a member of the Austin Rose Society.
“Dad was constantly pruning, feeding and caring for roses in some way, and he really enjoyed cutting fresh roses. I remember one year dad entered a rose contest and he meticulously pruned and primped this one rose relying on it to open just in time for the show…Well if you knew my dad, ‘perfect timing’ was not something he could rely on! Needless to say his ‘show winner’ was nowhere near ready to be displayed at the time of the show, but that didn’t stop him! He went with his second choice and put together a display that got a lot of recognition,” Tom said.
Baca’s love of planting influenced the first annual Daffodil Bulb Sale for the senior center in efforts to increase the beautification of Round Rock. Several members and volunteer groups served as gardeners to plant the bulbs throughout the community. The tradition continues with the sale of hundreds of bulbs annually as a fundraiser for the Round Rock Senior Center and the planting of bulbs annually along the city’s flower beds by Parks and Recreation staff.
In May 2003, the Round Rock Senior Foundation members furthered the impact of the Daffodil sale, by leading the efforts for the City of Round Rock to be officially recognized as “The Daffodil Capital of Texas” by the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas.
Baca’s legacy is state-wide. Baca started Grandparent’s Day in Texas. He convinced former Governor Mark White to declare a special day in honor of mature residents who make Texas what it is today. In 2002, Baca volunteered his time and worked on House Bill 514 to help the Tiguas and two other tribes have gaming operations on existing reservations.
Baca was recognized by the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce for his community service as the 1994 Round Rock Senior Citizen of the Year. In 2001, Baca was awarded the Local Legend Award from The Historic Preservation Commission of the City of Round Rock, an award which recognizes Round Rock citizens who have had a positive and lasting impact on the culture, development, and history of our community and who exemplify the very essence of Round Rock. In addition, Baca received the National Daily Points of Light Award given by The Points of Light Foundation and the Volunteer Center National Network, in partnership with the Knights of Columbus and the Corporation for National Service. It is designed to honor individuals and organizations that have made a commitment to connect Americans through service to help meet critical need in their communities and in the nation.
Baca died on November 5, 2002, at the age of 81. He is being recognized in Spring 2006 with the opening of the Allen R. Baca Center for Senior and Community Activities to honor all the accomplishments of his life and the work he did for the Round Rock Senior Citizen Community.