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The Family

A eulogy for Howard Baker from his sons

(This eulogy was read by my brother Bob Baker on behalf of myself and Michael at my dad's funeral on December 21st, 2001)

I would like to start by reading a “PACT” our Dad wrote which the Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates Rotary Club uses to begin their weekly meeting.

Personal Accountability with Courage and Truth in the way I interact with others

  • First... I will have the COURAGE to tell the whole TRUTH
  • Second... I will be KIND in the way I tell it
  • Third... I will be FAIR and not seek selfish advantage
  • Fourth... I will have an OPEN HEART and an OPEN MIND
Howard Baker contemplating life, pipe in hand

Today we celebrate the life of our father, whose death leaves us feeling all the poorer. The shock of our sudden loss, as all things, will come to pass.

Dad, may your memory be a blessing for us all.

We never saw you the same way as others. You were our father, simply, Dad. Yet during our lives we discovered you were so much more. We shared the trust and friendship of a good man with solid moral character, a loyal friend, a philosopher, a loving and loyal companion and soul mate to Mom; a grandpa and a comfort to any friend or family member who ever needed consolation or support.

Dad, you were, and still are, our hero. You were the most honest person we have ever known. Your integrity and love accompanied us during every step of our lives. You never abandoned us, you always encouraged us to stay the course; "steady eddy" wins the race, as you liked say. We shall continue to live in the light of your values

You never stopped learning. Education for you and for others around you was a lifelong goal. You were always curious, determined and very disciplined - from taking piano lessons and learning to use a computer during the last 10 years, or teaching Reading to immigrant adults, you were and always will be an inspiration to us; our leader, a role model and the definition of what it means to be a good and decent man.

You passed along the strong sense of Jewish identity and pride that your parents instilled to you, a way of thinking, experiencing and understanding the world as a Jew in contemporary American life.

You and Mom were always our best teachers, in word and deed. You worked together, lived together and were each other’s best friend. During the past year we watched you nurture and support Mom during a most difficult time in her life. Seeing the way you both interacted will be with us forever.

We will miss the hours in which we sat and spoke about virtually any subject. No topic was taboo. The philosophical exchanges at times became hotly argued but they were always challenging and rewarding. We will miss those times we all sat at the dinner table as a family, the TV always off, while we discussed the important issues of the day.

We will miss your timely sense of humor. You had that knack of finding humor and using it in almost any situation. You would often end a long discussion with the statement – “That’s enough about me, now what do you think of me? ” or while watching “Da Bears” you would say “Its all over for the bears!!!” whether they were winning or losing at the time.

We are truly inspired by the relationships you have with all of your friends and are moved by the unconditional love you have shown to each other. We aspire to this worthy goal of what it means to be a true friend. We know that you will be sorely missed by all of your friends

Your contributions to the communities where you lived and worked were diverse and widespread. You had 17 trees planted at Central Park where you took your daily walk. Your vision, creativity and noble nature will endure, enhancing the lives of all who crossed your path. You never bragged about your accomplishments, in fact often times we only found out through others what tremendous things you had done.

G-d has blessed you with a good life. You were the "Rock of Gibraltar" for Mom. Sonny, Michael and I, will always honor and cherish your memory and your infinite wisdom. We could only hope to have the same relationship that you had with your late brothers, Lester and Buddy; your beautiful grandchildren and daughters- in law are further proof of the fine life you have lived; you had great friends, colleagues and a professional life filled with meaning. You had strong love of animals and nature. You could not have done any better.

And to the angels that are accompanying you now, we ask that they watch over you, guard you and protect you. We know somewhere up there you and your brothers will be giving each other the “schtick”.

The Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourning, often speaks of peace. In its closing words, may our hearts find a measure of comfort and our souls, the eternal touch of hope. "Ya'ase shalom bimromav, hu ya'ase shalom aleinu, ve-al kol Israel, ve-imru, amen."

Dad, We will love you, always. May you go in peace.

Stu's World
Updated: March 20, 2010