Patrick and Ravan Bakeman are something of a wonder couple in Dowagiac. As business owners, members and active participants of various boards and community groups, participants in local government, coaches and, of course, parents to three young kids, one could wonder how they keep everything straight.
But for Pat and Ravan, their constantly moving lives are centered around the simple practice of giving back to their community, and showing their children how to achieve goals.
Patrick Bakeman fits the archetype of a small-town guy. As a Dowagiac native, he left his hometown to get his education, knowing full well that he would return to use his talents and abilities for the benefit of his community. Since returning to Dowagiac in 2005, Patrick has opened a barber shop, Bakeman Barbers, become the radio voice for Dowagiac Chieftain football, become the vice chairman of Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac and was elected to Dowagiac city council.
Wearing many hats may not have been part of Pat’s original vision for his future, but returning to Dowagiac to be integrated into his community was. When Pat met Ravan, it was not long before Pat’s affection for Dowagiac and desire to move back home came up in the conversation.
“That was always my plan. When I met Ravan, I told her that plan on our second or third date,” Pat said.
“Who says that to somebody? That’s pretty brave,” Ravan laughed. “I was still in shock that he was a barber because all the barbers I knew were 90 years old.”
But Pat’s vision struck a chord in Ravan. Pat’s plans soon became their unified plan.
“If this goes anywhere, I’m not afraid of a new adventure,” Ravan says recalling the early days of their relationship.
Like so many others, Ravan first had to learn how to say “Dowagiac.” Even after the pronunciation was down, the Bakemans had a few years before they returned to Pat’s hometown. Pat graduated from the Barber/Styling College of Lansing in 1999, and stayed in the Lansing area for the next few years. Pat and Ravan got married in 2004, then moved back to Dowagiac in 2005 when Pat opened Bakeman Barbers.
Since 2005 the Bakemans’ involvement and contribution to Dowagiac has had no limits. The barbershop has expanded in the last few years. Pat has worked on several community projects with YPGD, including bringing back the July 4th fireworks show.
“We do anything that can improve the lives of people in and around Dowagiac,” Pat says about YPGD.
In 2017 Pat was elected to Dowagiac city council, and has since worked on such projects like creating the Economic Development Opportunity Board.
“We wanted to help get things done,” Pat says. “If you just sit at home all the time, it gets boring. At least have one thing you do.”
Ravan hardly sits on the sidelines with community involvement. Since moving to Dowagiac she has worked in local government, and is currently the administrative assistant for prosecuting attorney Victor Fitz.
“It’s a high stress, fast paced job, which I love,” Ravan says.
But Ravan pointed to her need for a creative outlet. Growing up she was active in theater, participating in many plays and musicals. Fortunately, she was able to find her niche with the Beckwith Theatre Company, Dowagiac’s homegrown theater group. For two years she has sat on the board of directors for Beckwith, and hopes to someday direct shows at the theater.
For all of their individual projects and activities, everything ultimately becomes a family affair. Often their children, Amelia, Mallory and John, visit the city council chambers, or various events Pat finds himself working or hosting. Pat coaches for the kids’ athletics teams. For Ravan and Pat, having their children along for the ride is part of the charm, and part of their parenting philosophy.
“Our kids get to see if that you have a problem, if you have something you want to change, you can actually go and change it, and then you get to see the results of that work,” Pat says.
Being a parent, an active community participant, a business owner and an elected official takes its momentary tolls, however. With their jobs and roles, Pat and Ravan “often see people at their worst.” To hold onto their vision and sanity, the Bakemans simply try to keep things in perspective.
“As soon as you realize you have a plan, but something happens that’s completely beyond your control, if you take a deep breath and realize that that is inevitable, it’ll save you a lot of stress,” Ravan says.
Ravan recalled the times when money was tight and holding multiple jobs was the means of survival, but she and Pat agreed those times prepared them for all they do in Dowagiac.
“You have to have a plan and be consistent, but you also have to be flexible,” Ravan says.
“It all happened because we put ourselves out there, and we like putting ourselves out there,” Pat says.