Pat and Herman Baker left impact: Memorial on Saturday

Susan EspirituFountain City, Obits

There are people that impact our lives often extending us beyond the immediate moment, leaving a lasting impression that lead us on a path of personal growth, fulfillment and success. Herman Baker did that for me and many others. When I think of him and his wife, Pat, or even the mention of their names, I simply smile, because both were two of a kind, leaving an indelible place on my heart.

Spring Hill yearbook

My first encounter with Herman Baker was at Spring Hill Middle School where he was principal. I had been unsuccessfully trying to reenter the teaching field after taking a leave of absence when my father had become ill. I applied with him for a middle school computer teaching position back in the beginning of computer technology (1990s). I had to admit I knew nothing about what was called a Laser 2 E, but he asked if I knew how to turn it on and if I could type. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to turn the machine on, but I could type. He showed me the button on the back and hired me. It was a couple of the best years at Spring Hill, until the school board changed it to an elementary school, and we parted ways to other schools.

Seven years later, I was able to reconnect and teach for him at Gibbs Elementary. There I learned lessons I took with me into my own administrative career years later. He modeled how to host end-of-the-year staff parties at his home, where he and Pat graciously welcomed the entire staff. I carried that ritual over to my own administration, remembering those Baker days.

I also remember Herman Baker as the ultimate fundraiser guru, constantly hoarding items in his office to sell to raise money for the school. If it would make $1, Mr. Baker had it in his office. He was the consummate entrepreneur, as his beloved Leo’s Café was where you would find him and Pat on most weekends. When I would see him there, he would always jokingly ask if I had learned to use the computer yet.

One of the greatest things about Herman Baker was his intolerance for disrespectful people. I remember an incident that had a lasting impact on me as an administrator. He sent me with another teacher to a principals’ meeting in his place and we were promptly told to leave because “we were just teachers.” When I told Mr. Baker what had happen, he responded, “Now you know why I don’t want to go.” He respected everyone’s position as equally important whether they were teacher, maintenance, cafeteria or superintendent.

Although most of my association was with Herman Baker because I worked with him, I was blessed to see Pat Baker on many occasions. Her quite demeanor, quick wit and sly smile always made you feel comfortable.

Memorial service Saturday

Graveside services for Herman and Patricia Baker, longtime Fountain City residents who moved to Jackson, Tennessee, after retirement, will be Saturday, July 22, at 11 a.m. at Lynnhurst Cemetery, Adair Drive, Knoxville. Both were well-known educators. They were wed on August 11, 1960, and were life partners for over 60 years.

Herman Tipton Baker passed away on May 26, 2021, at age 83. He was born August 6, 1937, in Sevier County, Tennessee, the son of the late Harold and Ruth Rule Baker. He received his bachelor’s degree from Carson-Newman and his master’s degree from the University of Tennessee. He spent 38 years in the Knoxville and Knox County school systems. He started as a teacher, then served as principal at five different schools. He was a scout master and a past president of the Knoxville Education Association. He served on the deacons’ board at Central Baptist Church in Fountain City, and was active in the local Republican Party.

Patricia Anne Baker passed away February 13, 2023, at age 85. She was born on November 17, 1937, in Knoxville, the daughter of the late George Everett Mynatt and Marie Nance Mynatt. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in 1959. Mrs. Baker took a leave of absence from her career in 1963, to become a full-time mother. She returned to teaching in the 1970s at Tennessee School for the Deaf and then worked for the Knox County school system for more than 20 years, finally retiring from Shannondale Elementary School.

During their lives, they participated in multiple businesses including commercial and residential real estate. One of their favorite ventures was a popular spot in Fountain City called Leo’s Café . They were co-owners of the café and could often be found there on weeknights and weekends.

They leave behind two sons, John and Jim Baker, and two daughters-in-law, Elizabeth and Janet. There are nine grandchildren: Haley Spencer, Evan Baker, Hannah Singer, Olivia Baker, Hillary Baker, Harrison Baker, Sophia Baker, Bailey Whitworth and Cooper Whitworth. There are also three great grandchildren: Evangeline James Singer, Emerson Rose Spencer and Wyatt Nathaniel Singer.

Herman Baker is also survived by his sister, Nancy Baker McGowan, and Patricia Baker is survived by her brother, William Allen Mynatt, and sister, Nancy Mynatt Noel. Both are survived by many nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews whom they dearly loved.

The family requests memorial contributions be directed to Central Baptist Church of Fountain City, 5364 North Broadway, Knoxville, TN 37918.

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