Robert Bruce Baker passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 22, 2023, at the age of 83 following a long illness. Robert was born in Brackettville, Texas on July 3, 1939, to Bruce Arnold and Alice (Alicia Julia Barrera) Baker. His first words were likely delivered in Spanish, and he supposedly retained an understanding of the language although if he spoke it later in life no one was around to hear it.
Robert was an only child until the age of seven when his brother John arrived. Soon after Bruce Junior and Barbara joined the family. The Baker clan lived in many states and Germany but eventually settled in Lawton, Oklahoma when his father retired from the United States Army.
Robert attended Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma in 1958 but dropped out soon after. His father told him he’d need to get a job, so Robert went into the family business of barbering after graduating from a barber school in Oklahoma City. He did manage to return to Cameron and complete two degrees (hospital administration and business administration). He put those degrees to use for a time, but his personality was such that the politics of being in charge of other folks wasn’t for him and he ended his working days as a barber.
In 1959, Robert’s good friend Johnny Wayne introduced him to a shy 17-year-old by the name of Ellen Paul. They dated for a year, were engaged for a year, and married in 1961. Thus began a long partnership that managed to survive for 61 years and 8 months producing two children and three grandchildren. Like all marriages there were ups and downs but in death we endeavor to remember the good times.
Robert was one of those people who was born an old soul. While others his age were exploring The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who, he was listening to John Gary, Vicki Carr, and Nat King Cole. Robert played the guitar and had a lifelong love of classical, flamenco, and jazz guitarists. Django Reinhardt was a particular favorite.
As a father, Robert could be distant and stern. With his grandchildren he was patient and loving, which is often the way of things in life. Much like his parents, he was always willing to help someone in need and never bothered to mention to anyone what he’d done.
He had a wicked sense of humor and loved The Andy Griffith Show. To this day his children can still watch those episodes and have a good laugh.
In his later years he flipped channels incessantly and loved watching cable news. His daughter is thankful he was a fan of Rachel Maddow and thought Tucker Carlson was a nitwit.
Robert will be missed for all of the things above and many others. He is survived by his wife Ellen, his children Justin (Dea) Baker and Tamara (Elisa) Hodge, grandsons Duncan and Calvin Hodge, granddaughter Emory Hoelscher-Hull, his sister Barbara (Charles) Van Deman, and brother BJ (Gail) Baker.
To honor Robert, please vote and recognize that climate change is real so his future great-grandchildren inherit a healthy planet. Plant a tree in his memory. Or, better yet, do something nice for someone and don’t tell a soul you did it.