Thomas J. Baker, Jr. (’48)


Thomas James Baker, Jr. was born to Thomas James Baker Sr. and Frankie Pauline Anderson on July 12, 1926 and passed peacefully from this life on June 9th, 2020.He was a fifth generation Houstonian. Tom was raised by his grandmother, Nellie Stabe Baker and attended Montrose Elementary School, and Lanier Junior High School. He graduated from Lamar High School. He took great pride in having earned the rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 11.Tom enlisted in the Army AirCorps and served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II and received his discharge in 1946. He then attended the University of Houston and graduated in 1948 with a degree in Business Administration. On July 15, 1949 he married Barbara Ann Smith , whom he had known since she was five and he was seven years old. He often said that in Barbara the Lord gave him the best gift in that she was a wonderful person and devoted wife and friend. Tom was active in the insurance business for over 50 years and owned his own insurance agency through which he represented a number of insurance companies. He held the designation of Certified Insurance Counselor and was one of the first in Texas to receive that designation.A former member of the Million Dollar Round Table for life insurance sales, he was elected Rookie of the Year in his first year of insurance sales. In 1974, he was elected to the board of the Independent Insurance Agents of Houston, and became the President of that group in 1975, serving on the board for 19 years. Elected in 1980 as President of the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas. He also served on the board of the Independent Insurance Agents of America, a group with over 300,000 members, and became its President in 1987.The only Houstonian to ever be elected President of the IIAA, Tom was only the fourth Texan to hold that position in the over 100 year history of the association. Tom also served on the Board of Governors of the Certified Insurance Counselors and successfully moved the group’s offices from New York City to Washington D.C. During this period, he founded the Certified Service Representative Designation.Tom was a member of the Scottish Rite, Gray Lodge 329 and was a member of the Shriners for over 50 years.A member of Chapelwood United Methodist Church, he took great pride that he and Barbara were honored as lifetime members of the board.In 1983, he was the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award from the Independent Insurance Agents of Houston, and in 1989 he was honored with the Rex G. Foreman Award in recognition of distinguished contributions to the advancement of the American Insurance Agency system. He was predeceased by his wife, Barbara Ann Smith Baker, and his sister Nancy Baker Blane. He is survived by his daughter Cynthia Ann Baker Norris and son-in-law, Michael Brent Norris; son Thomas James Baker III and daughter-in-law, Donna Marie Baker; and daughter Nancy Ann Baker Marshall. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Thomas James Baker IV, Sarah Margaret Norris, Mary Guyton McKellar, Thomas Dickson McKellar, and Ann Marie Baker. He is also survived by a brother, Phillips Stabe Baker.

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