Albert Preston “Bert” Baston was born on December 3, 1894. He was a sports phenom as far back as 1911, when he signed up for football at age 14. At Park High he starred as a fullback and even coached the team before the days of professional coaches. The team prevailed even though there was only one football.
Bert was a two-time All-American football player (left end) at the U of M (1915 and 1916). As a receiver, he teamed with Pudge Wyman to give the Minnesota Gophers their first passing combination. He was captain of the team his senior year, all while studying law.
During World War I he served with the 17th Company of the 5th Regiment of Marines. He was a Captain and fought in France. He suffered a critical leg injury while serving in the Battle of Belleau Woods, with a hole in his leg “big enough to stick a broom handle through,” according to family lore. The official citation reads:
“The Navy Cross is presented to Albert P. Baston, First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving with the 5th Regiment (Marines), 2d Division, A.E.F. in action near Chateau-Thierry, France. Although shot in both legs while leading his platoon through the woods at Hill 142, near Chateau-Thierry, France, on June 6, 1918, Lieutenant Baston refused treatment until he had personally assured himself that every man in his platoon was under cover and in good firing position.”
He spent almost a year in the hospital, and when he got out he started a bakery in Detroit. He returned to Minneapolis and started the Bert Baston Chevrolet Co. at 3038 Hennepin Avenue (1933). His sales manager during the 1930s was George Richard Baston, the only surviving son of John Judson Baston. From 1932 into the 1940s he was the Gophers’ assistant end coach.
In WW II he served in North Africa as a colonel in the Marines and commanded a battalion that repaired equipment ranging from jeeps to rocket guns for armies in the European and African Theaters.
The 1947 directory lists the Baston-Barington Chevrolet Co. at 2612 Lyndale.
Bert was quite a local hero, as evidenced by his appointment as General Chairman of the 1948 Aquatennial – that year he lived at 2108 Kenwood Parkway, a house built in 1903 and worth three quarters of a million dollars today.
He moved to St. Cloud later in life and opened a dealership there.
In 1954 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Bert married Ruby Laird in 1920 and they had two children: Fred, who also served in WW II, and Priscilla.
Bert died on November 15, 1979, and is buried at Lakewood Cemetery.
See also: Baston Family