Gene P. Baker
Published 11:04 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2008
GREENVILLE, NC — Gene P. Baker, well known educator and outdoor enthusiast, died Sunday, September 14, 2008 with his devoted family by his side, after a five week battle with pulmonary edema. He was a constant source of insight to his students and his children. After retiring from education with 32 years of service, he was so fortunate to find his “working” home at Greenville Marine and Sports Center where he enjoyed every minute of his work for 16 years.
The funeral service will be conducted Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Wilkerson Funeral Chapel. Burial will follow in Pinewood Memorial Park.
After graduating from Greenville High School, Gene served four years in the United States Navy. After his military service he attended East Carolina University and received his B. S. degree in Science and his Masters degree in Education. He was a member of the First Free Will Baptist Church, where he served on the finance committee, the furnishing committee, and sang in the choir for many years.
He was a member of the first Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club, member of the NC Teachers Association and Principals Association. He was a former member of the Civitan Club and the Pitt County Wildlife Club and was a faithful steward of the Pamlico River Estuary. Gene was an avid supporter of the senior games. He excelled in billiards, and was the Pitt County Billiards Champion for several years and the NC State Billiards Champion for two years. He was also a member of the Coastal Conservation Association and a member of the Eastern Pines Men’s Fellowship Club, serving twice as the chairman of the scholarship committee. Gene and his wife, Judy were ardent supporters of the academic mission of ECU and were members of the Chancellor’s Society.
He embodied the words “Renaissance Man”; he played the banjo and the mandolin, he loved to sing and play bluegrass and gospel music. He built several boats over the years; his last one “Strong Medicine” was started in November 2004 and completed in April 2008.
Gene was the lighthouse to his family; steady, calm, trustworthy and dependable. He was a man of his word and the best friend to his son, Kevin, daughter, Shanna, and wife, Judy. He had an extraordinary zest for living, forever the optimist, fixer of all things that could be broken, including hearts. He was a loyal friend to many. A lover of all nature and outdoor life, Gene taught his children to respect and love all God’s creatures. He loved boating and fishing and passed that passion down to his family. The love for his family was unconditional and he instilled in his children the values of helping others, respect, self-worth, and confidence.
To his family and many friends, Gene was a hero, he never gave up. One day before his death he asked his wife and children to remember “I never gave up, I just gave out.”
He was preceded in death by his father, Alton P. Baker and mother, Ethel Leary Baker; best friend, Sidney Carraway, and brothers in-law, Elton and James Lloyd Ballance.
He is survived by his: wife of 47 years, Judy B. Baker; son, Charles Kevin Baker and wife, Denise, of Washington; daughter, Shanna Baker, of Raleigh; granddaughter, Coral Rose Baker; step-granddaughter, Jessica Hassell; step-grandson, Christopher Carr; sister, Patsy Baker O’Leary; and niece, Linda O’Leary; sister in-law, Bernadine B. Carraway; nephews, who were like his sons, Sidney Carraway, Jr. and James Burney Carraway and wife, Pam; great nephews, Chad Carraway, Hayden Carraway, and Bryson Carraway; great niece, Maddy Carraway, Lauren Carraway; sister-in-law, Doris Ballance; nephews, Rudy, Randy and Thomas Ballance; and nieces, Diane and Kim Ballance; brothers in-law, Doug Ballance, and Charles Ballance and wife, Nita; nieces, Lisa and Dee Dee Ballance; and his faithful companion Golden Retrievers, Megan and Sunni.
The family will receive friends Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Wilkerson Funeral Home and at other times at the home.
The family would like to thank their many friends for support and visits during Gene’s illness. A very special appreciation and respect to the doctors, nurses and staff of Pungo District Hospital in Belhaven for the wonderful, personal, and never ending care given not only to Gene, but to his family as well. We can never thank you enough.
Memorials may be made to the ECU Volunteer and Service Learning Center, Old Cafeteria Building, ECU, Greenville, NC 27858 or to the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina, P. O. Box 58629, Raleigh, NC 27658.