Joseph Rodney Baker Sr.
Jan. 13, 1922 — Aug. 22, 2011
Joseph Rodney Baker Sr., 89, a native of Crowley and longtime resident of Morgan City, died Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, at Teche Regional Medical Center in Morgan City.
Mr. Baker is survived by his daughter Sandy and her husband Terry Mayon of Morgan City; two sons, Ronnie Baker of Morgan City and Mike Baker and his wife Carla of Berwick; a daughter-in-law, Peggy R. Baker of Stephensville; 15 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren. Mr. Baker also is survived by his great friend and longtime companion, Mrs. Billye Grice of Morgan City.
Mr. Baker was preceded in death by his parents, Clebert and Leona Dequeant Baker; his wife of 45 years, Shirley Hargroder Baker; his son, Gregory Baker Sr.; a sister, Hilda B. Simon; and a brother, Harry Baker.
Joe Baker was one of America’s and World War II’s quiet heroes. He joined the U.S. Navy at the beginning of the war and served until the Japanese surrender in 1945. He was a proud member of the famed U.S. Naval Air’s PBY “Black Cat” Squadron. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and two U.S. Navy Air Medals for heroism while serving in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
After the war, Joe returned to his wife’s hometown of Opelousas and began his family. A few years later, he moved to Lafayette and finally, in 1965, moved to Morgan City where he worked and managed The Shoe House until his retirement.
Mr. Baker loved to teach and helped numerous people in the Morgan City area to learn how to read and write English, and as a member of the St. Mary Parish AARP, taught classes in conversational Cajun French.
In later years he was able to attend many “Black Cat Squadron” reunions and get reacquainted with his wartime friends and brothers of Naval Air. He enjoyed his role as father and grandfather and reveled during the holidays. He especially loved his role as “Joe Claus,” brother of Santa Claus at Christmas time. His enjoyment of life brought smiles and laughter to his family and friends, and he will be greatly missed.
Mr. Baker was a devout Catholic and longtime parishioner of both Holy Cross and Sacred Heart Catholic churches. Even though, in his later years, he lived in the church parish of Sacred Heart, he continued his work with the Holy Cross Parish Finance Committee until his death.
Visitation will be from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Morgan City.
A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m., with military honors being rendered at 9:15 a.m., by the East St. Mary Veterans Funeral Squad at the church.
Burial will follow in the Morgan City Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be his grandsons, Adam Mayon, Matt Mayon, Josh Mayon, Tommy Baker, Gregory Baker and Jeremiah Baker.