Charles Baker, a 42-year Baptist team member and former executive vice president, passed away on Dec. 21 at the Baptist Reynolds Hospice House in Collierville, Tennessee. He was 84.
Before coming to Baptist, Baker worked for IBM and served as a commissioned officer during the Korean War. He began his Baptist career in 1960 in data processing, a forerunner to the information technology department. Baptist was one of the first health care organizations in the United States to use data processing for accounting purposes.
In 1965, Baker launched Baptist’s first endowment fund: the Health, Education and Research Fund (HERF). When the HERF program was merged into what is now the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation in 1983, it had reached $90 million. HERF invested in supermarkets, shopping centers, real estate and cattle, among other things. It was the only fund of its kind to earn Standard & Poor’s prestigious AAA rating.
During his career, Baker was a member of several community, civic and religious organizations. He also was a clinical associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, served as president of the Memphis Hospital Council and was chairman of the Tennessee Hospital Association.
Shortly before retiring, he was honored with the American College of Healthcare Executives’ (ACHE) Regent’s Distinguished Service award for his outstanding leadership and commitment to health care and the ACHE. He also received the Tennessee Hospital Association’s Distinguished Service Award and was inducted into the Legion of Honor of Kiwanis International.
Baker is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joan; his son and his wife, Bryan and Cynthia of Seattle; one granddaughter, Stephanie, of Austin, Texas; and several nieces and nephews.