Robert Andrew Baker, seminary professor, Baptist historian, and author, was born on December 22, 1910, in St. Louis, Missouri, the second of three sons of Benjamin William and Grace (Hartman) Baker. He had two older stepsisters. His father was an English immigrant, and his mother of Pennsylvania Dutch descent. William Baker died when Robert was two years old. Grace Baker moved her children to Kansas City, Kansas, where she went to work to support them. Robert was converted at the age of twelve and baptized at Immanuel Baptist Church, Kansas City, Kansas. Beginning in 1929 he attended night sessions of a business college for two years while working as an attorney's clerical assistant and a court reporter using stenotype by day. From 1932 through 1936 he was an operative in the United States Secret Service Division of the Treasury Department, with the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, office as his headquarters. Although Baker had for years been convinced that God was leading him into full-time Christian service, he worked at secular jobs until he had put his younger brothers through college. In December 1936 the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma licensed him to preach, and he enrolled in Baylor University. He was ordained to the ministry by Bellmead Baptist Church, Waco, Texas, on March 14, 1938. His degrees included a B.A. from Baylor University, 1939; a Th.M. in 1941 and a Th.D. in 1944 from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth; a Ph.D. from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1947; and an honorary doctor of laws degree from Baylor University in 1981. He married Fredona C. McCaulley on June 5, 1939, in Waco. They had a son and a daughter. From 1940 to 1942 Baker studied at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and taught evening classes. He joined the church-history faculty at Southwestern in 1942 and retired in 1981. He was chairman of the Committee on Graduate Studies for twenty-nine years and served for six years on the commission on accreditation of the American Association of Theological Schools. He served as president of the Texas Baptist Historical Society and as chairman of the Southern Baptist Historical Commission. He was the first to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the latter group in 1981. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by Southwestern Seminary in 1968. Among the dozen books Baker wrote are A Summary of Christian History (1959), J. B. Tidwell Plus God (1947), Relations Between Northern and Southern Baptists (1948), and The Blossoming Desert: A Concise History of Texas Baptists (1970). On November 15, 1992, Baker died at his home in Fort Worth. A memorial service was held at Travis Avenue Baptist Church on November 19, 1992, and burial was at Laurel Land Cemetery, Fort Worth.
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William R. Estep, ed., The Lord's Free People in a Free Land: Essays in Baptist History in Honor of Robert A. Baker (Fort Worth: School of Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1976). Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 17, 1992.
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Samuel B. Hesler,
“Baker, Robert Andrew,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994
Most Recent Revision Date:
October 5, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: