This sketch, done in 1993, by our friend, Gene Gibb, 
was our choice to use for the memorial service.
Eric had always hated to have his picture taken - 
and since he had posed for this sketch -
I felt he would prefer it to photos ...

sketch-3.gif (46168 bytes)
click to see full view 46168 bytes


April 8, 1996

The past week on this campus has been a time of deep personal and collective sadness and mourning, yet in the context of such unfathomable grief we are here today to express celebration and gratitude.

It is important for us as an academic community to express gratitude 
for Erics' many contributions here, 
which we will continue to cherish and benefit from:


-- gratitude for how he raised the intellectual climate for students and faculty alike, both in and out of the classroom -- Eric was keenly interested in a number of subjects and he often demonstrated an infectious joy in both gaining and sharing knowledge about his interests -- in my personal association with Eric we both enjoyed how the established roles of student and teacher were often reversed -- for instance, he introduced me to new levels of understanding and appreciation for his two great loves, contemporary poetry and film.

-- gratitude that he helped many of his fellow students in their personal and academic growth -- as just one example, last Monday night (the night Eric was killed) he was planning after his return to campus to help one of my students in sophomore literature revise an essay.

-- gratitude that he reminded many of us why this institution exists -- to foster individual, personal and academic development in the students who come here; certainly, his years will be a reminder of how much a student can accomplish here

-- gratitude for his keen wit and for his deep-felt sense of his own and others' humanity which came through in his interactions with us and in so many of his movie reviews, his own poems, and his critical analyses of others' writings.

-- gratitude to his family for entrusting him to us and for sharing him with us for these last four years.

-- let me also express my personal gratitude that my association with Eric was and will be a frequent reminder of why I decided more than twenty years ago to spend my professional life on a college campus.

So in all these ways we express our gratitude for the enduring legacy of Eric Baker on this campus, but today we also wish to celebrate his individual accomplishments. This Friday in this very place will be our annual celebratory ritual recognizing outstanding student academic achievement. Eric had been selected to receive two major awards then -- awards which I want to announce now:

--Eric had been chosen by the Religion and Philosophy faculty to receive the C. P. Minnick Award which is given annually to a graduating senior who has exhibited exemplary character and academic achievement -- the award includes a framed certificate, and Erics' name will be engraved on a permanent plaque which is displayed in Britt Hall.

-- Eric had also been chosen by the English faculty to receive a plaque as the recipient of the Outstanding Student in English Award this year -- I am pleased to announce that the English faculty have decided that this award hereafter will be called the Eric Lee Baker English Award as a lasting tribute to what he has accomplished here.

Given Erics' love for movies, we perhaps should go watch a movie together as a tribute to him -- almost any movie would do, for his cinematic tastes were amazingly eclectic and inclusive. Since we can't do that very well here, however, I'd like to recite a couple of brief poems, for his love of modern poetry almost matched his love for movies. Robert Frost was too traditional a poet to be one of Erics' top personal favorites, but Eric did read Frosts' poems with great insight and appreciation. As I conclude, I believe that these two poems express well some of my thoughts for and about Eric:


Natures' first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief

So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.


The clouds, the source of rain, one stormy night
Offered an opening to the source of dew;
Which I accepted with impatient sight,
Looking for my old skymarks in the blue.

But stars were scarce in that part of the sky,
And no two were of the same constellation --
No one was bright enough to identify;
So 'twas with not ungrateful consternation,

Seeing myself well lost once more, I sighed,
"Where, where in Heaven am I? But don't tell me!"
I warned the clouds, "by opening on me wide.
Let's let my heavenly lostness overwhelm me."

Tribute by Dr. John Hardt
Erics' English Professor with whom a very special  relationship was shared
and for that I will forever remember and be grateful to this man

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