April 29, 1927 – December 20, 2020
Dr. Clayton Baker (93) was born April 29, 1927, in Cincinnati Ohio to Marion Kenus and Sarah Jane Allen Baker. He was the youngest of eight siblings that included four sisters (Rhoda, Sudie,Thelma, Edith) and three brothers (Hiram, Edward, David), all of whom preceded him in death.
In 1938 the Baker family moved to a farm in southeastern Indiana where Dr. Baker began his formal education in a one-room schoolhouse. He enlisted in the USN “for the duration plus six months” after his junior year at Versailles High School. Despite his early departure from high school, he had accumulated enough credits to graduate as part of the class of 1945.
For basic training, Dr. Baker went to Great Lakes Naval Training Station, then to Terminal Island, California, for further instruction. His assignment to U.S.S.Salisbury Sound, a seaplane tender, took him to Pearl Harbor, Guam, Shanghai, Okinawa, Tsingtao, returning him to San Francisco to be discharged in August, 1946. On June 2, 1957, he married Constance Jane LaJohn in her hometown of Lakewood, New York. They had a long-lasting marriage of nearly 64 years. Together they enjoyed playing golf, attending opera/theatre presentations, especially at I.U., exercising at the gym, as well as spending the winter months in South Florida.
Constance survives, along with his two daughters, Cara Jane Baker of Bloomington, and Spanish teacher Cathy Jo Baker of Crawfordsville; his granddaughter Laurel Nicole Richmond (Daniel) of Pittsboro, and two great-granddaughters, Collins Jane Richmond and Ellis Nicole Richmond. While he very much enjoyed his military experiences, he decided not to reenlist in order to go to school. Dr. Baker earned his B.A. at Ball State University, followed by an M.A. at Indiana University in 1955, ultimately obtaining a Ph.D. from I.U. in 1969.
During his long career as an educator, he taught in various locales that include the former University High School in Bloomington, IN; Ohio University, Ohio State University, but most importantly Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis where he chaired the Spanish Department for over a decade.
In the course of his tenure at IUPUI, Dr. Baker served as president of the Indiana chapter of the AATSP (American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese), A major service he rendered was organizing AATSP’s National Spanish Examination in Indiana, a language contest for high school students, along with “Joe Mason Day” competitions.
After a wonderful career spanning three decades, Dr. Baker retired from IUPUI as Associate Professor Emeritus in June 1992. At that time he was named outstanding university Spanish professor of the year by Indiana’s chapter of the AATSP.
When he was not in the classroom, Dr. Baker was a voracious reader who enjoyed works by WEB Griffin, Clive Cussler, and Ernest Hemingway, among others. Growing vegetables every summer brought him many days of pleasure, as did spending time with his granddaughter.
There will be no service or visitation. Dr. Baker will be interred in Valhalla Memory Gardens with military honors. The family requests any donations be made to Disabled American Veterans, Dr. Baker’s preferred charity, 575 N. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204 or www.dav.org
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.DeremiahFryeMortuary.com
December 24, 2020
Dear Connie so sorry for your loss. Clay was very special to me, he visited a lot when I was a little girl. He and mom always had a great
relationship. Love you and your girls.
December 23, 2020
I was so sorry to read of Dr. Baker’s passing. I have fond memories of my four years at IUPUI pursuing a career as a Spanish teacher. As a timid freshman, I remember sitting down to speak with Dr. Baker about what Spanish course I should enroll in. I remember the very day I met with Dr. Baker in his office and the conversation we had. He was all smiles and laughter, and I remember telling him that I had only taken three years of Spanish at the high school level, and it had been two years since I’d had Spanish at all, having done a gap year after high school. He assessed my skills, which to me were quite rusty, and then told me to enroll in his second year writing course. He also told me to enroll in a third-year conversation course. I told him that there was no way that I could do those courses, having spent two years outside of formal language instruction. He sat back in his chair, threw his head back in his characteristically deep laughter, and said, “Well, I guess it’ll be sink or swim, won’t it?” And then he became quite serious, looked at me and continued, “You have the skills that it takes to be extraordinarily successful in both of these courses. Trust my evaluation, trust yourself, and start the journey toward being a Spanish teacher!” I didn’t even know I WANTED to be a Spanish teacher at that point! However, the seed had been planted. During that (yes, very successful semester), I made the decision to pursue a degree in education with a major in Spanish. I credit my 40 years + as a Spanish teacher to Dr. Clay Baker. Without his enthusiasm, his belief in me, and overriding my objections to place me where he felt I should be placed, I don’t know that I would have pursued the career course that I did. He continued to mentor me throughout my undergraduate years. May God surround you with peace and unending joy, Dr. Baker. And to his family, please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of this beloved man and educator.
December 23, 2020
My father, Dr. Robert Trimble, was at IU in grad school with Dr. Baker and knew him through the AATSP and their respective teaching activities. He remembers visiting him at Ohio University when Herb Weller was there. He sends his regards to Connie and expresses warm memories of Clay Baker. Our sympathies and best wishes to the whole family. We know that through his teaching of Spanish he expanded the worlds of generations of students!
December 22, 2020
To Connie, Cathy, Cara & all Clay's gals,
Sending my sincere sympathy.
Love & prayers,
And a special "Welcome to Heaven"