Lubbock- Robert J. Baker, Ph.D.
Robert James Baker passed away Friday, March 30, 2018. He was born on April 8, 1942, to James Simeon Baker and Laura Cooper in Warren, Arkansas. His father perished during World War II and his mother remarried, resulting in Robert growing up with six half-siblings. Robert graduated high school and attended Ouachita Baptist University on a track and football scholarship, and then received his B.S. from Arkansas A&M College. He later received a Master of Science degree from Oklahoma State University and a PhD from the University of Arizona. Robert joined the faculty at Texas Tech University in 1967, where he spent 48 years in the Department of Biological Sciences. He was recognized as a distinguished teacher and research scientist by Texas Tech University and several professional scientific organizations. He was active in many scientific societies, including serving as president of the American Society of Mammalogists, Southwestern Association of Naturalists, and Texas Society of Mammalogists. In 1979, Robert received the Paul Whitfield Horn Professorship, which is the university's highest award for a faculty member. He was known nationally and internationally for his scholarship, research productivity, and education of graduate students. During his career at Texas Tech University, he mentored 98 students to completion of Master's and Ph.D. degrees. He also impacted the lives of hundreds of undergraduate students, especially through the non-majors biology course for which he is fondly remembered by many. Robert also was the founder and Director of the Natural Science Research Laboratory of the Museum of Texas Tech University, a position he occupied from 1976 until his retirement in 2015. Robert was passionate about education, waterfowl and pheasant hunting, raising golden retrievers, and ranching.
Robert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Laura Kyle Baker, of Lubbock, daughter April Baker-Padilla and husband Michael Padilla of Lubbock, and grandchildren Jason Baker and Faith Padilla. Robert was preceded in death by his son Robert Kyle Baker.
Visitation will be held from 1:00-3:00 P.M. at the Zapata Funeral Home in Spur, Texas, on April 3, 2018, with Graveside services 3:30 P.M. at the Afton Cemetery, Afton, Texas. A memorial is planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Natural Science Research Laboratory Fund for Excellence, the Bobby Baker Memorial Scholarship Fund, or planting a tree in remembrance of Robert's own enthusiasm for tree-planting.
Published in Lubbock Avalanche-Journal from Apr. 1 to Apr. 2, 2018.