TRIBUTES TO ERIC
This Noel was one of Erics' closest friends. He was the very last of us to be with Eric, as he was the passenger sitting in the back seat of the Firebird when the accident occurred. It was Noel who eased my ache of uncertainty about whether or not Eric suffered, when he assured me that not so much as a moan or sound of any kind came from his lips allowing us to know that Eric was instantly, instantly killed upon impact. He thought Eric was unconscious when the officer arrived to help him out of the car. Noel had a sprained ankle and no other injuries other than that most terrible wound to the heart of losing his best friend......
wrote a tribute to Eric
which appeared in the Iron
Letters to the Editor
A Friend Will Not Be Forgotten
written as part of an
Since learning of Eric Bakers' death, I
have honestly gotten by these past five days with
the help of friends and professors on this campus,
We have stuck together and supported each other.
can almost say this would not be true if I attended
a larger institution.
There was a candlelight gathering outside of Roberts Hall on Tuesday night where friends, professors and staff members shared memories of "E.B." This gathering would probably not have occurred if Ferrum College was not a tight community who cares about one another.
Also from April
5th edition of the Iron Blade
LOSES ERIC BAKER TO TRAGIC ACCIDENT
Eric L. Baker, 22, a senior here at Ferrum College, was killed in a car accident late Monday night, April 1, 1996. Eric was working toward <and achieved> a degree in English and Philosophy and was involved in several other organizations on campus. He was a D.J. at WFFC, the editor of the Chrysalis, and the entertainment writer for the Iron Blade. He was talented in all that he did, especially in his capabilities as a poet and film reviewer.
"Eric was the most gifted student I've ever had in film studies. He made me a better teacher because I knew I'd have to justify my approach to him after class." said Dan Gribbin, Professor of English.
Bakers' talents were recognized by much of Ferrums' faculty; he will receive the Outstanding English Student Award and the C.P. Minnick award for the most academically successful Philosophy and Religion student. Baker was born on July 1, 1973, in Woodstock, Virginia. Before attending Ferrum, he attended Central High School. It was in High School that Eric discovered his poetic capabilities.
Eric was best described in the words of his good friend and fellow student, Travis Mittel. He said, "Eric is my definition of a true friend. He will forever be missed."
Eric is survived by his mother, Nina R. Baker of Woodstock. Funeral services are scheduled for Friday, April 5, at 3 p.m. in Woodstock, Virginia. There will be a memorial service for Eric at the Ferrum College Chapel on Monday, April 8 at 4 p.m.
From the April 19th edition of the Iron Blade <campus newspaper>
Memorial: Remembering Eric Baker
Eric Baker was a extraordinary person. As so many of my colleagues and students have affirmed over the past two weeks, Eric was the kind of student a liberal arts college like Ferrum exists to serve and be enriched by. In intellectual exploration, in bonding with friends, in creative artistic expression - in so many things we try to promote at this college, Eric was as active a leader and participant as any student I've ever taught or known.
Eric was extremely well read, as familiar with a broad range of literature upon entering college as we would hope most students would be upon graduating. That posed a challenge for me as an instructor, for Eric knew what he liked and often vilified what he didn't - gently of course. "Don't you think she's just a tad tame?" he'd ask, referring to a writer or director I might have included in a course. He never forgave me for assigning Tom Jones in my novel course. (He never forgave Fielding for writing it). On the other hand, Eric rarely met a movie he didn't like. Film was his passion. Who could imagine that one so young could have viewed all of those films? "You haven't seen that one, yet?" he'd marvel, as we compared notes about what films we were reviewing. "You've got to see that." And then with a glint in his eye, he'd add, "Madame might have a problem with it, though."
Though our artistic tastes often diverged, Eric and I traveled the same path. A university professor clones himself or herself semester by semester in the person of the graduate students, but a professor at a liberal arts college less often encounters such intellectual sophistication as Eric represented, a kindred soul with the same enthusiasm for the academic life. Teaching is always a two-way street, especially with a student like Eric. Knowing that he would eventually be taking Contemporary Literature and Film, I gave the course an overhaul two years ago to include material which he and I had been talking over even then, when he was a sophomore. Eric made me a better teacher by forcing me to examine myself and my approach to my subject.
The danger, of course, is that a student with such talent will regard the more plebian elements of the curriculum (of a particular course) with a certain intellectual disdain. Eric seemed to enjoy provoking me to react as he arrived in my office with a poem he'd composed in a math class "during a lull in the action". The poems were almost always good, and I guess the best light one can put on the situation is that Algebras' loss was literatures' gain.
And now literature has suffered its' greater loss. I know that we'll all be looking at the upcoming issue of Chrysalis with an eye toward what might have been for Eric. He has four pieces in the volume, some of his best work to date. It won't be easy for the staff to look back on this issue without thinking of it, first and foremost, as Erics' last edition. Upon the death of his best friend, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote: "Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all." But the loss will never seem fair. Theodore Roethke puts the best light on it that anyone can, I suppose, in these lines from the conclusion of
has another thing to do
keeps me steady. I should know.
May 3, 1996
Eric Baker 1973 - 1996
A week after the layout for this issue of Chrysalis was completed, our editor-in-chief, Eric Baker, was killed in a tragic automobile accident. Erics' poetry is itself testimony to his wit, his intelligence, and his humane attitude toward others. Members of the Chrysalis staff were privileged to know the man as well as the poet, and we know that we have lost a true friend. On behalf of this years' student body, the Chrysalis staff dedicates this 1995-1996 issue to Eric Baker, whose spirit encompassed the noblest expression of Art and Humanity.
received this Sympathy card signed by many of Erics'
To Express Sympathy In the Loss of Your Son
enriches our lives is not how long we have with a
Every once in a while we are fortunate enough to share our lives with someone very special. Please know that your loss is deeply felt by everyone who came to know and love your Son
Baker, Eric was by far the most
interesting, wonderful and stimulating person I have
ever had the privilege of calling my friend. He was
inspiring and most certainly was full of life. His
humor was so exceptional that even now with his
passing, our memories together make me laugh.
Amongst the tears and the emptiness his death has
brought to so many it is also important that we
recognize the sheer joy and wonderfulness he has
bestowed upon our lives for eternity.
Thursday, 23 April 1998 14:20:25 -0500
From: Lana Whited <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Eric's Iron Blade reviews
Wes Astin forwarded me your message regarding Eric's Iron Blade reviews. I'll be happy to send you all the issues his reviews appeared in (I think that's about three years' worth). It will probably take me a week or so to get them together, especially at this point in the semester. Our filing system isn't too efficient; in fact, it basically consists of back issues stacked on top of each other in reverse chronological order. Also, I hope we have all the issues. There was a time when we didn't put the newspaper directly into everyone's mail box and all the stacks left out on campus would occasionally disappear because someone didn't like an article or an editorial and didn't want it disseminated (this was generally students thinking they were protecting each other, not administrators). But I will get those to you. Could you send me your mailing address?
I was happy to learn last semester that you've put up the web page and I'm quite impressed with it. Do you have a copy of the poem about Eric's death which I wrote and which was published in the Chrysalis last spring? (It's called "Crocus.") Let me know if you don't and I will happily e-mail it to you.
Eric was in two of my classes during the semester when he died. In fact, another student in one of those classes died the same semester. It was a small class (started out with around 10 students), and the deaths started at the top of the roll (the other student died before Eric and her last name started with "A"). That was a hard semester; in fact, I think the afternoon when I went to class after Eric's death (our class met at 2 p.m.), that was the toughest experience I've ever had in a classroom. I remember that one of Eric's friends sat in his seat that day, and although you might think that would make us feel strange, somehow it made us all feel better. And we talked about the novel we were supposed to talk about, because we thought that was what Eric would have wanted to do if he had been there. I believe the novel was "The Color Purple," by Alice Walker.
I can't count the times Eric sat in my office and talked about what movies he's seen and what movies he wanted to see. He always found it hard to believe if I hadn't seen a movie he really liked (the fact that the nearest theatres are an hour away and we all had work to do never struck him as good reasons for not going, I guess). His exuberance about film and music were what I liked best about him: that pure, unfeigned joy he had when he talked about it. His passion for it has continued to carry me through the quicksand of students whose attitudes about any cultural experience are all too often the opposite - so non-existent that they threaten to suck me down.
I never drive toward the college from Rocky Mount on 40 without thinking about Eric. I'm not sure I will ever be able to (and I'm not sure I want to).
Well, I didn't mean to go on so. I've meant to write to you about the web page for months, and I'm glad Wes's message prompted me.
I'll try to send you 8-10 copies of each issue, provided we can spare them.
"Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life." - Sandra Carey
Thursday, 23 April 1998
Thank you so very much for your letter. It means much more than I could find words to say. Everything that everyone shares with me about Eric is so special to me!
Did I meet you when I came to graduation?
In case you haven't been to the site lately, I am sending you a file you might find helpful in checking to see if you've seen everything.
Gee.... No! I never received any more mailings from Ferrum - but would SOOOoooo love to have your poem, Crocus. Do you mind it I post it on his site? Would you like to write a tribute/memorial `something' to put in that section? And - may I post your e-mail in the guestbook as well? There are many people who would enjoy reading what you had to say about Eric, but I realize you might not want it made public.
I don't know if you would have seen the Autobiography he wrote the first year there, as an English assignment - but I am almost finished entering it into the computer - One last chapter to go...but it is posted ~in-progress... Here http://www.user.shentel.net/nbaker/EricAutoBio.htm
I also have a lot of his poetry that you may never have seen, and will be posting that in the next month or two... the work goes slowly sometimes. (because of the emotions which accompany the work as I find that it enhances that sense of loss of all that he was and had to offer and all that we shared as mother and son and as writers and intellectuals who had a close relationship on many other levels of mutual talents and interests as well.
*BTW* - The Color Purple was one of my all-time favorite movies from the time I first saw it. I have posted Erics' review too. Did you see Powder? It was one of the last movies Eric and I attended together and both loved! When I saw it again after he was dead - I was struck by the symbolic notes of it which applied to Eric as to the main character in the movie. There was a lot of Eric in that Character.... What do you think? I would be interested to hear about your opinion.
Thank you for the time and effort you are so kindly willing to give to me. I appreciate it with all my being! Address is
Nina R. Baker
23 May 1998 ~ Nina, Here's the poem I wrote after