Community Pays Tribute to a Great American

baker-in-stateMore than 700 people paid tribute to Senator Howard H Baker Jr. on Monday on the UT campus.

The UT alumnus and veteran died Thursday at his home in Huntsville, Tennessee. On Monday his casket—draped in an American flag—was placed at the center of the rotunda of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Baker’s family gathered to greet friends, elected and appointed leaders, and many admirers throughout the day. Some mothers brought their children to teach them more about the great American. Many colleagues came to share their favorite stories about working with him and the impact he had on their lives.

“Everything went very well yesterday and the family was pleased and thankful,” said Matt Murray, director of the Baker Center. “I was struck by the diversity of those who came to visit—a cross section of the people that Senator Baker served over his lifetime. I also was struck by the celebratory environment. People came to show their respects and also reflect on the Senator’s many contributions to America.”

An honor guard—comprised of the four primary military branches—stood at attention around the casket. Baker was a US Navy veteran. At the conclusion of his tenure in the navy, Baker attended the UT College of Law, graduating in 1949. Read his full obituary here.

Elected to the US Senate in 1966—and then re-elected in 1972 and 1978—Baker was known as “The Great Conciliator” for his ability to bring Republican and Democratic lawmakers together. Although he had left Capitol Hill twenty-six years ago, his death prompted an outpouring of condolences from politicians across America.

The great statesman also played a critical role in establishing the Baker Center on the UT campus. Founded in 2003, the nonpartisan institute focuses on education and research concerning public policy and civic engagement. Learn more about the Baker Center.

Baker’s funeral is today at the First Presbyterian Church of Huntsville, followed by a burial at Mossop Cemetery.

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