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......

Noel wrote a tribute to Eric which appeared in the Iron Blade
and I am sharing that here.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Letters to the Editor

A Friend Will Not Be Forgotten

Dear Baker,
......It has been over two weeks now and it still seems that just yesterday we were hanging out in each others' rooms.   I'll never understand how a simple trip to a grocery store could end so tragically, but what has happened, has happened I am going to miss you a lot especially due to us having so many plans as a group.    However, I am proud to have been one of your friends, and if it were not for you, these four years would have been a lot more difficult.    Thanks to you, I have learned to appreciate music and film as well as several aspects of the American culture. I am never going to forget the good times and long discussions we had, and you will live on in the memories that we all have of you. Well, wherever you are, take care my friend and remember you will never be forgotten.                  Your friend always,     Noel Roy

This article was written as part of an Editorial by
the then Editor-in-chief, Sherry Correll
in the April 5th edition of the Iron Blade <campus newspaper>

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.  I can almost say this would not be true if I attended a larger institution. 
I would probably seclude myself in my room to deal with the pain myself.

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 
<campus newspaper>

By Becky Dye, Staff Writer

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>


In Memorial: Remembering Eric Baker
by Dan Gribbin ~ Special to the Iron Blade

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 

"The Waking".

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, to take the lively air,
And lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady.   I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

May 3, 1996

Mail brought in the package of Erics' last CHRYSALIS which was dedicated to him..... The last page says...

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.


I received this Sympathy card signed by many of Erics' friends.
I will copy the text of the card and then the personal notes written within on accompanying sheet of paper.

To Express Sympathy In the Loss of Your Son

"What enriches our lives is not how long we have with a person,
but the depth of love we are fortunate enough to share"

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


Mrs 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.
My deepest condolences, Monica Mullins
Mrs Baker,
My prayers are with you and your family. Eric was the greatest New York Jets fan I knew. He was also the most trustworthy person I ever knew. Your loss is part my loss. I shall always remember the good times.
Thomas Stringer
Mrs Baker,
We loved and respected your son perhaps more than he ever realized. Call me anytime you need to talk.
Mrs Baker,
I share your sorrow. I've never known a person quite like Eric and I know his friendship has changed my life forever. I will always hold a spot in my heart for his love.
will be truly missed not only in body but in our hearts as well. God be with your family. Carrie Wilbur
Mrs Baker,
My prayers and dearest sympathies are with you in this time of loss. Eric was like a brother to me. His memory will last forever. Trey Cherry
Mrs Baker,
I lived near Eric for four years and will always hold him close to my heart. My prayers and love go out to you all. Roy Flannigan
Mrs Baker,
Eric was a good friend of mine for four years here at Ferrum. My prayers go out to you and your family, Marshal Myers
Mrs Baker,
As Erics' next-door neighbor in is hard to cope with this sudden loss of a good friend. I wish to extend my prayers to you and your family. Matt Moore
Mrs Baker,
I have known Eric for most of the year. He was a wonderful person, and a great listener. He will always be with me. My prayers are with you all. Robert Mitchell
Mrs Baker,
I am truly sorry for your loss. Eric will be missed. He was a very sweet person. Kara Beth Oliver
Mrs Baker,
We'll remember Eric as the wonderful person that he was. You are in our thoughts and prayers. We'll all miss him greatly. Kathleen Dixon
Mrs Baker,
My prayers are with you. Eric, (or "EB" made me laugh even when I didn't want to. He made me smile when I was depressed. Now I cannot help but cry and again "EB" is in my mind. I will miss him terribly. He was the most brilliant man I have ever known, Sherry Correll
Mrs Baker,
My prayers are with you and your family! Gina Ferrell
was a wonderfully interesting person. He'll always hold a place in my thoughts and heart. My prayers are with you. Cat
was such a wonderful person to know. I often picked on him just to see him smile or hear his laughter. I will miss him. He was as a child of my own. My prayers & thoughts are with you and please Know that we will all miss Eric. Sandy Bowman
prayers are with you in your time of loss. We all knew and loved Eric. Sheila Ball
all hoping that your suffering and feelings of loss will lead to something greater and positive.... Relda Manuel
prayers are with you! Eric will be missed Dearly. Paul
loss of Eric is great to us. He will be missed by me very much as to anyone he knew. Our thoughts are with you. Kisal
will be dearly missed. My prayers and thoughts are with the two of you. Preston
I don't know
the words that'll ease the suffering. But my thoughts and heart are with you ~ Shawn Callahan
Mrs Baker,
I'm at a loss of words to describe the hole in our community. Our prayers are with you. Don Kaserman
Mrs Baker,
Eric was there for me during a personal loss of my own. He was a very special man. My prayers are with you. Diane Hailey
Mrs Baker,
Your son was a friend to a large number of people. He was loved and will be greatly missed. My hopes and prayers are with you. Kevin Nunley
Mrs Baker,
As you know, Eric was my dear friend. He will live with me always. If there is anything I can do, do not hesitate to call. All my prayers, Matt Seymour
never be able to express what love I felt for Baker. His writing and passion filled all our lives beyond compare. We all, as well as myself, will mourn his loss. Always,
K. (sorry - I couldn't make out this signature...)
You can never
truly know how someone else feels. I only hope you find peace. Jeff Sturm
Psalms 27: 1-5
We are thankful to have known him. A star has left the heavens above and we feel the darkness that surrounds us now. Lisa L. Swain
was a very unique guy who will always hold a place in my heart. I will miss him immensely. Karen Anderson
was my friend and inspiration in fellowship and kindness.
was my friend, my hero and my mentor. I loved him with a love few have known. I'm so sorry. Becky Dye
Mrs. Baker,
My love and prayers are with you. Shawna Glower
To the Baker Family,
You are in my prayers. E.B. was a wonderful guy. Enjoy the memories. Carla Black
was loved very much while he was with us. My prayers are with him and your family. Ginna Fuchs
was a person who you could really look up to. He will be missed and thought of. Ned Blai
of you. Clay Z.
I only knew Baker for less than a year, there was something very special and unique about this man. I will never forget him nor the feelings of joy and being part of it he gave to me. Nigel Roy
filed a needed void in our `Roberts' family. He left a hole we will fill with love. Faith, love and smiles, Dana Seaman
Mrs Baker,
Your family is in my prayers. I am very sorry for your loss. Eric will be missed by a great number of people. With sympathy, Christine Thomas
Eric Baker
was a very important friend in our friendship circle. Please be comforted in your time of sorrow. Eric Baker is loved here and his talents never went unrecognized. Megan Alessi
was a great friend as well as a good co-worker at WFFC!  He made things go by faster with his jokes and humor!  I will truly miss him and I want you to know that my sympathy is with you.  May you remember him with happiness and joy!  He will be sadly missed. Heidi Branch

Date: Thursday, 23 April 1998 14:20:25 -0500
From: Lana Whited <>
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

Lana A. Whited
Associate Professor of English and Journalism
Ferrum College

Date: Thursday, 23 April 1998
Subject: Re: Eric's Iron Blade reviews
To: Lana Whited <>

Dear Lana;

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

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

Sat, 23 May 1998 ~ Nina, Here's the poem I wrote after Eric died:

by Lana Whitehead

How early
that lavender crocus
by the front gate,
oblivious to
the calendar,
to the thermometer,
the weather man,
poking up its fragile head,
a reminder that living is growing.

And how coldly
the frost,
that one chilly morning
we found the flower's head
not bowed
but broken,
not art, but vegetation,
a reminder that living is dying.

A shame, we said,
about that frost,
about that flower's timing,
if it had appeared some other
some other
a million choruses of ifs

as if blooming were not living,

as if we were not
that those blooms
came early.

- Lana Whited

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