Marblehead, Ma. 12-5-18. Marblehead person of the year Patti DiCarlo Baker. (Owen O'Rourke)
2018 Persons of the year, Lifestyle, News

2018 Persons of the Year: Marblehead: Patti DiCarlo Baker

MARBLEHEAD — You could say Patti DiCarlo Baker was made for Marblehead.

She's a board member on the Chamber of Commerce. She belongs to the Boston Yacht Club. Not only is she the executive director of the Marblehead Arts Association, located in one of the town's most historic buildings, she lives in Old Town in a converted carriage house.

"I feel very connected with this town," says Baker. "I love it here. I loved it the first time I got here. I love the people, and I love the fact that everyone who lives here loves the town too.

"And I love the fact that businesses help one another," she said.

For her strong connection to the town, her involvement, and her contributions to Marblehead's culture, Patti DiCarlo Baker is Person of the Year for Marblehead.

It may surprise you, then, that Baker is only a first-generation Header. She grew up in North Syracuse, N.Y., and only came to the Boston area because of her brother — and because there weren't a lot of marketing jobs available in upstate New York.

"My brother showed it (Boston) to me, and I really liked everything about it," she said. "It's a great city for walking."

Once she got to Boston and found a job with DRK Marketing, she grew to love the area even more.

She eventually found her way first to Swampscott in 1993 and finally to Marblehead after marrying her husband, Bruce, in 1996.

She knew she liked drawing from an early age, and her family encouraged her interest in it. Still, she initially planned to become a veterinarian (she is the proud owner of a boxer, Hector) before seeing the light and graduating from Syracuse with a degree in illustration and design.

She became the executive director of the MAA in 2016, after having been a member for 20 years.

"I saw they were looking for one, and I applied," she said.

Aside from being on the committee that runs the Jackson Cup yacht race out of the BYC, and serving on other various boards and committees in the town, Baker is perhaps best known for weaving Nantucket Baskets, a skill she acquired after visiting the island many times with her husband to participate in the Figawi Race that starts there and finishes in Hyannis (which got its name after a group of sailors racing in 1972 got lost in the fog).

“I’d always see this elderly man, who was a shopkeeper, making these baskets, and I was very intrigued by it,” said Baker. “I liked how he was making them.”

So she learned how to do them, and how to imprint them with her own style and tastes. She especially loves designing them as mailboxes, similar to the logo she designed for the town's holiday pops concert.

“And,” she said, “they are not merely decorative. They’re meant to be used.”

Her baskets won her two blue ribbons at this year's Topsfield Fair, and were displayed at the Abbot Public Library in November.

Baker also can be creative when it comes to fundraising — a necessity in a non-profit such as the MAA, which is housed in a 290-year-old building with an extensive wine cellar (complete with a secret room that was used as part of the Underground Railroad), whose upkeep costs $11,000 a month.

In October, the MAA hosts a masquerade ball and in May — on Kentucky Derby Day — it runs its own Derby Dress-Up Day (in conjunction with the BYC) with raffles and prizes substituting for actual wagering on horses).

"I love the building," she said. "And I love the passion everyone brings to what they do.

"This is my second home," she said. "Even the dog thinks it's his second home."

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