DeVere Baker, known for sailing a series of rafts named Lehi in an effort to prove Book of Mormon accounts of ancient trans-Pacific migration, has died at age 74.

Baker, a Tremonton native who ran a low-key campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1980, died Wednesday at a Provo rest home following an extended illness.Although he was a California resident most of his life, Baker always maintained close ties with Utah and gave numerous lectures to local church and civic groups.

He produced and directed two movies, "A Raft Named Lehi" and "The Space Messenger."

A graduate of Davis High School, Baker joined the Navy in 1934 and later became a shipbuilder during World War II.

After the war, Baker traveled to South America and saw archaeological excavations that he believed pointed to Book of Mormon accounts of an ancient people who migrated by sea from Israel to South America some 600 years before the birth of Christ.

He spent the next quarter of a century building a series of rafts to support Book of Mormon accounts of people also migrating from the Americas to islands in the Pacific. In 1958, he successfully completed a 2,100-mile raft voyage to Hawaii that took 69 days.

In all, he sailed some 22,000 miles on five rafts, voyages that resulted in five books and a number of film documentaries.

Funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at Myers Mortuary Chapel in Ogden.