Baker—Edward Draper Baker, 68, on October 29, 2017, at home in Ashaway, R.I., after a valiant five-year struggle with cancer. The son of Anne English and Edward Baker, Edward was born on April 20, 1949, in Philadelphia, Pa., and grew up there with three sisters. He earned a bachelor’s in history from Juniata College and a master’s from Pennsylvania State University. His path to Quaker faith began in high school and college, when he worked on a farm and at a summer canoe camp where his employers were Friends. He started attending Friends meeting in State College, Pa., eventually joining State College Meeting. He transferred his membership to Westerly (R.I.) Meeting after marrying Carol Adair Pringle, the love of his life, whom he met at a contra dance, and moving to Rhode Island. He designed their home and enjoyed doing finish carpentry on the house, tending his large vegetable garden, and cooking meals for family and friends that were accompanied by lively conversation and often a glass of fine red wine or Kentucky bourbon.
Edward loved history, especially the history of New England. He worked at Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock, Mass.; Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Conn.; and New London County Historical Society in New London, Conn., where he was executive director. Especially important to him was his 35-year association with the Association for Living History, Farm, and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM). His love of history meant that Friends could always turn to him when a question arose about a detail of Quaker history and practice in New England and listen to his perspective before making a decision when faced with a question about Quaker practice. He would usually wait for others to share their thoughts and then unobtrusively raise his hand. He had a way of getting right to the heart of the matter, and with his vast knowledge of Quaker faith and practice, he provided insight that always made Friends feel confident they were proceeding on the right path. He served New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM) long and well, starting as a member of the Board of Overseers at Moses Brown School (1996–2003) and including a stint as recording clerk. He served on the Permanent Board of NEYM (2001–2012, including as clerk with his usual grace and good cheer in 2009–2012). His heart led him to serve on the Personnel Committee (clerk, 2003–2014, ex officio, 2014–2016); as supervisor of the NEYM Secretary (2014–2016), in the recent effort to hire a new director of Friends Camp, and as leader of the transition to full-time staffing for the youth ministries retreat programs. His years of dedicated service helped shape NEYM, and the administrative systems he created live on through the people he hired, mentored, and indeed loved.
He also served Westerly Meeting long and well until the last weeks of his life: as clerk, recording clerk, and member of Building and Grounds and Ministry and Counsel Committees. Using his wisdom and knowledge of the Quaker way, he guided the meeting with a gentle and knowing hand. Friends are deeply saddened by his loss, but even more, are grateful to have known him.
He loved his family deeply and cherished recent times with his young grandsons. He is survived by his wife, of 29 years, Carol Baker; three children, Sarah Baker, Hannah Baker, and Andrew Yates (Becca); and two grandchildren.