Dick Baker, distinguished alumnus and hymn writer, dies at 84
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary honored distinguished alumnus and Southern Baptist hymn writer Richard D. “Dick” Baker during chapel, Sept. 7. Flags also flew at half-staff around the seminary campus in memory of Baker, 84, who passed away after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Sept. 5.
“Our sweet friend of many years and graduate of the school passed away this week,” Patterson told students. “We are so very grateful for the ministry of Dick Baker. He wrote an unbelievable number of songs. We have lost a great, great missionary and evangelist of song, and his songs always had such wonderful theological content.”
Patterson asked the seminary community to pray for Baker’s friends and family members as they mourn their loss. After Patterson spoke, the seminary family remembered Baker by singing his hymn, “All to Thee.” During this time of worship, H. Gerald Aultman, professor of music theory and Dick Baker Chair of Music Missions and Evangelism, played the organ. The seminary inaugurated this chair in Baker’s honor in 2004.
Baker received his bachelor’s degree in sacred music from Southwestern Seminary in 1953. He met his wife Ann, who passed away in 2008, while he was a student at Southwestern. They were married in 1951 and had two children, Paul and Lori. Before coming to Southwestern, Baker earned a degree from Baylor University in 1949, after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. In 2001 he received Southwestern Seminary’s L.R. Scarborough Award, and in 2005 the seminary named him a distinguished alumnus.
From 1978-1992, Baker served as minister of music at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and in years to follow traveled the globe as the church’s “Music Minister at Large.” In the early years of his ministry, Baker traveled around the world to lead concerts and crusades, often alongside his brother, the preacher B.O. Baker. In 1957, Billy Graham invited him to join his crusade in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
Baker published hundreds of hymns, including such classics as “All to Thee,” “Longing for Jesus,” “His Way Mine” and “Have you been to Calvary,” that Christians around the world have used in worship. Even in the last days of his life, Baker labored to share the Gospel and write music, fulfilling his life verse:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him and I am helped. Joy rises in my heart and with my song I will praise Him” (Psalm 28:7).
A public celebration service will be held in Baker’s memory at Prestonwood Baptist Church at 2 p.m., Sept. 10.