A humble desk now occupies a corner of the second floor of A. Webb Roberts Library on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but the contributions that poured forth from that desk and from the pen of Robert A. Baker are anything but small.
“Dr. Baker brought a rich body of material to our center, and we cherish the memory of this great man of God,” said Berry Driver, dean of libraries.
Baker, who began teaching classes at Southwestern in 1940, was honored with the dedication of the Robert A. Baker Church History Room in the Roberts Library, Oct. 17. Located in what was formerly the archives study area on the second floor of the library, the room now houses Baker’s desk, several photos of Baker during his years as professor at Southwestern, and a vast collection of books that Baker penned, as well as other books related to church history.
In the room are books penned by Baker including “A Summary of Christian History,” “The Blossoming Desert: A Concise History of Texas Baptists,” and a galley-proof copy of “Relations between Northern and Southern Baptists.” Also included in the collection is Baker’s seminary retirement certificate and “Oral Memoirs of Robert A. Baker,” from the Texas Baptist Oral History Consortium.
“It is a great privilege to a seminary such as Southwestern to honor a professor like Robert Baker in the establishment of this room,” said Southwestern Executive Vice President and Provost Craig Blaising.
Baker obtained his bachelor of divinity degree from Southwestern in 1941, and his doctor of theology degree in 1944. He joined the church history faculty in 1943 and continued to teach at Southwestern until retirement in 1981, pausing briefly to obtain a doctor of philosophy degree from Yale University in 1945. Baker died Nov. 15, 1992.
Baker’s wife, Fredona, planned to be at the event honoring her husband, but was involved in an automobile accident and remained in the hospital at the time of the dedication. She did, however, prepare typed notes of memories from her time with her husband at Southwestern, which was read by her niece, Susan Williams.
“Yes, he truly loved this institution,” Fredona wrote. “He appreciated what it had meant to the different areas of his learning and preparation, and he enjoyed watching it grow and develop during his years as professor and chairman of the PhD program.”
The Bakers were also honored later during the day at the L.R. Scarborough Award luncheon, in which Robert and Fredona were given the award, which was created in honor of Scarborough who served as the second president of Southwestern from 1915 to 1942. Colleen Brewer, daughter of the Bakers, accepted on behalf of her family.“Dr. and Mrs. Baker join a very distinguished group of people who have made incomparable contributions to the seminary. It is our joy and privilege to establish this room to preserve for future generations the legacy of Dr. Baker,” Southwestern President Paige Patterson said.