GALVESTON - Judge Andrew Z. Baker, 87, war hero, lawyer, and statesman passed away on Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at home with his family.
Visitation with the family will be at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Galveston County, 502 Church, Galveston from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 20th. A memorial service will be conducted at the same location at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 21st.
Andy Baker was born at home on October 22, 1919 in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, the oldest son of Benjamin Franklin and Delilah Annie Taylor Baker who bore ten children. Andrew’s siblings called him “Brother” as he always looked after them, even late in life.
At age fifteen, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), going to New Mexico at a conservation camp in Rincon where he helped build a dam, terraced hills and mountains with rocks, and broke up boulders to prevent erosion and rockslides. He returned to Houston to finish school but had to drop out again and re-enlist in the CCC. They sent him to Groveton, TX, where he fought forest fires and dug right of ways for Texas roads and highways.
His military career began with enlistment in the National Guard and later, the army. In 1938, he became a Corporal in the 36th Tank Company. In 1940, he transferred to the 56th Cavalry Brigade, Heavy Weapons Troop, and trained at Fort Bliss, El Paso until July of 1941 when he applied for Chemical Warfare School.
“D-Day” June 6, 1944, Andrew survived the landing on Omaha Beach. On June 19th, he was on a hill just above St. Lo when an artillery shell hit nearby, giving him his first injury. In November, he engaged in a firefight which resulted in his being decorated with the Silver Star. The citation reads in part: “First Lieutenant ANDREW Z. BAKER . . . for gallantry in action in France on 19 November 1944. While acting as a Forward Observer near LAUNSTROFF, Lieutenant BAKER saw four tanks of the 10th Armored Division approach the crest of a hill and start down into a valley. As they did so, heavy German artillery fire hit them, and knocked out two. The occupants of one tank climbed out and tried to crawl away, but they were badly wounded and could not go far. . . . Lieutenant BAKER fearlessly left a covered position and ran forward to help the men. Lifting the most seriously wounded soldier to his shoulders, he carried him to the reverse slope of the hill, away from enemy observation. . . . returned to the shelled area and assisted another of the men to safety. . . he [then] located a vehicle and personally evacuated the remaining two soldiers to an aid station. The courageous disregard of Lieutenant BAKER for his own safety, his gallantry in action and initiative are in keeping with the highest standards of the Army of the United States.” He was also awarded numerous other medals and purple hearts during his military service.
While in England during the war, Andrew attended a dance where he met a lovely redhead, Jean Margaret Attwood, who captured his heart. They were married on July 14, 1945 in Wolverhampton, England.
After the war, Andrew mustered out of the service and returned to Houston where he and Jean eventually decided he should study law. He graduated South Texas College of Law.
In 1954, he moved his wife and four children to Galveston where he obtained a job in the county attorney’s office under Raymond Magee and later, Marsene Johnson. Andrew recalled fondly that the first case he prosecuted was against Percy Foreman; the jury convicted Percy’s client.
After his stint in the district attorney’s office, Andrew hung out his shingle with Jean as his legal secretary. In 1958, he and Jack Callahan became partners. They moved the office to 1011 52nd Street underneath the home of Carl Glaze who had “Carl's Drive-In.”
About a year later, James “Diamond Jim” Brady, came in as a partner and the firm was Baker, Callahan, and Brady for over 8 years. Subsequently, Ted Allmond became a “junior” partner. Eventually, the firm broke up and other attorneys became associated in the firm of Baker, Coltzer (Robert), Allmond, and Coltzer (Henry).
In 1961, Andrew had an inkling the family should evacuate their newly built, Spanish-style dream home on Offat’s Bayou. When they returned, they found it destroyed by a tornado spawned by Hurricane Carla. Friends old and new came forward to help. For two years, the family lived in a little house built by James Yarbrough. And Nat and Lori Pepper from the Unitarian Fellowship became close friends.
Almost from the time Andrew moved his family to Galveston, he was involved in politics. He ran for mayor, city council, 56th District Court, County Judge, finally winning a place on the Island School Rural School Board and then the GISD board where he served from 1962-68.
From 1968-70, Andrew served as committeeman from the 17th Democratic Senatorial District. In 1972, he won a race for State Representative, serving three terms, one of which included a Constitutional Convention. During his tenure, he won funding for the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway near High Island.
His final office was Judge of the 306th Judicial District. He served twelve years on the bench, retired at the end of 1990, and sat as a visiting judge for several years.
Andrew was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Francis Stover and husband, Lyndon; brother Willard Baker; sister-in-law, Barbara Baker, wife of brother, Fred; sister-in-law, Delores Baker, wife of brother, Jimmy; brother-in-law, Grady Watson; brother-in-law, Sam DeLuca, husband of sister, Eunice; nephew, Billy Baker; daughter-in-law, Jeanne Baker, wife of son, John Baker.
Andrew is survived by his wife of sixty-two years, Jean Margaret Attwood Baker; son, John Baker; daughter, Bonnie Palmer and husband, Kenneth; daughter, Susan Baker and husband, John Hunger; son David Baker and wife, Dianna; devoted niece, Andra Rowland and husband, Richard; former son-in-law, Peter Olsen and wife, Diane. Sisters, Eunice De Luca, Mary Carrier, Evelyn Watson, and brothers, Fred, Jimmy Lee, Arthur (Pete), and John Edward and wife, Barbara Baker. Ten grandchildren: Robert Baker and wife, Rebecca; Kellie Baker; Benjamin Baker; Keith Palmer; Karen Sinclair and husband, Phillip; Susan Reyna and husband, Ruben; Tara Hall and husband, Scot; Diandra Baker; Allen Jackson; and Toby Jackson and wife, Tina; seventeen great grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He belonged to Toastmasters, Elks, Lions, VFW, American Legion, and DAV. Andrew believed in the inner connectedness of life; that people should take care of one another. A generous, fun-loving soul, Andrew never met a stranger. The world was a better place for Andrew Z. Baker having walked this earth.
Cremation is under the direction of James Crowder Funeral Homes. Memorials may be made to A Med Community Hospice of Texas City or the charity of the giver’s choice.