Robert Saxon Baker, beloved husband, father, and grandfather; gifted legal counsel; and long-time volunteer advocate for law enforcement agencies, died at his home in Arcadia, Okla. on September 29, 2013, surrounded by his wife and children. He was 76. His family will celebrate his life and legacy in a private gathering.
The eldest child of Thelma Louise Saxon and Marion Robert Baker, Mr. Baker was born on June 5, 1937 in Oklahoma City, Okla. In addition to a semester at the New Mexico Military Institute, he attended and then graduated from Classen High School in 1955. On September 16, 1961 he married Roberta Kay Wilson of Tulsa, Okla. Settling first in Oklahoma City, over the years the couple nurtured two girls, traveled internationally, and built homes in Edmond and Arcadia, where they recently celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. Mr. Baker is survived by his wife Kay; daughter Dr. Noelle Baker and her husband William Hare of Davenport, Iowa; daughter Julie Baker Braun and her husband Donald Braun of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; grandchildren Ashleigh Braun, Bennett Braun of Ft. Lauderdale, and Captain Lawton Hare and his wife First Lieutenant Krissy Andis Hare of Colorado Springs, Colo.; sister Mary Beth Baker Busby and her husband David Busby of Washington, D.C., and nephews Robert David Busby of Ada, Okla., and Jack Busby of Washington, D.C.
As an undergraduate student, Mr. Baker attended George Washington University and the University of Oklahoma, majoring in history and political science. At the University of Oklahoma and thereafter in its College of Law, where he pursued his legal education, he assumed key leadership roles, among them vice president of Phi Delta Phi and case editor for the Oklahoma Law Review. Following his graduation in 1961, Mr. Baker joined Pierce, Mock, Duncan, Couch & Hendrickson. In 1973 he established his own insurance defense law firm, which he led for 25 five years. Admitted to practice law in the Northern, Eastern, and Western districts of Oklahoma, U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Baker most recently served as of counsel for the firm Crowe & Dunlevy in the securities litigation practice group. During his esteemed legal career he masterfully defended national and international companies such as Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Fireman’s Fund Insurance, State Farm Insurance, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Motors Corporation, Nippon Kokan KK, and Remington Arms Company. Mr. Baker was also a respected member of a number of professional organizations, including the Oklahoma Association of Defense Counsel, the Federation of Insurance and Corporate Counsel, the International Association of Insurance and Corporation Counsel, and the Oklahoma Bar Association, for which he was a past vice-chairman of the Automobile Law Committee and past president of the National Junior Bar Association.
Mr. Baker devoted his time and considerable skills unstintingly to the Oklahoma City community, serving as a first lieutenant and provost marshal in the Oklahoma Air National Guard before moving on to champion medical services, law enforcement, and social welfare in his city. Beginning in 1969, he taught as a visiting lecturer at the Oklahoma University School of Medicine, subsequently identifying a critical gap in community forensic services. Acting on that insight, he helped establish the Oklahoma Board of Medicolegal Investigations for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and he continued to play an integral role in forensic service through his 11-year chairmanship of that board. In related endeavors, Mr. Baker acted as general counsel to the Oklahoma Sheriff and Peace Officers Association and to the Oklahoma City and Edmond Police Departments, assisted the Narcotics Division, and served as a member of the Legal Advisory Committee for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. In 1976 he co-founded the Committee of 100, a group committed to providing financial assistance to widows of state and local firefighters or police officers killed in the line of duty. Mr. Baker was also passionate about the welfare of at-risk children and young adults, taking instrumental roles in establishing the Make-A-Wish Foundation and actively participating in the Junior Achievement Program in Oklahoma City. Speaking in December 1977 on the occasion of the settlement of a lawsuit against a law enforcement officer whom Mr. Baker had successfully defended, District Judge Raymond Naifeh praised the “hundreds of hours” that Baker routinely dedicated to this individual and other officers, without pay. “The public should know there are attorneys like you,” declared Naifeh. “God bless you, Bob Baker.”
Robert Saxon Baker will be remembered as a hard-nosed lawyer, compassionate defender, and devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He loved to sing, and his rich baritone voice filled church choirs, stages, and piano bars, and later crooned soft lullabies to his two girls. His passion for automobiles began with toys and go-carts, progressed to assembling and disassembling cars, and reached its zenith in amateur auto racing, especially in his favorite Jaguar, and in his avid attendance at the annual Indianapolis 500 road race. “Either lead or follow or get the hell out of the way!” was one of his favorite exhortations. Not surprisingly, therefore, in life Mr. Baker led with fervor and conviction in all he did.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his memory to Free to Live Animal Sanctuary in Edmond, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia.