Wesley Clyde Baker, 80, Presbyterian minister

January 11, 2004

The Rev. Wesley Clyde Baker, whose career as a Presbyterian minister spanned nearly six decades, died of renal failure Jan. 4 at his Severna Park home. He was 80.

Mr. Baker was born in Seattle and raised in California and Arizona. He earned his bachelor's degree in the history of religion from Arizona State University in 1943. He was a 1946 graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary and was ordained by the Presbytery of Phoenix that year.

Early in his ministry, Mr. Baker worked as a resettlement director for Hungarian refugees in Los Angeles. After serving several churches on the West Coast, he was appointed to the national Presbyterian Church's ecumenical missions and relations commission.

"In that capacity, he traveled globally and was a passionate spokesperson for the world mission enterprise of the Presbyterian Church. He was fluent in five languages," said his wife of 20 years, the former Corrine Ostermeier, associate pastor of Ark and Dove Presbyterian Church in Odenton. "He had marched with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.; he lived with Christian Arabs on the West Bank; and he investigated the Irish conflict for his denomination."

Mr. Baker had been pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington and also at churches in Churchville and Harundale.

In recent years, Mr. Baker had worked as an interim pastor, including a stint at Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore.

As an interim pastor, "he could walk down the halls and feel the tension, but he had a way of working with people. He was able to help heal a church," Mrs. Baker said.

At his death, Mr. Baker was preaching at Lakeland Presbyterian Church in Southwest Baltimore.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, 611 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Severna Park.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Baker is survived by two sons, Ernest C. Baker of Ardmore, Pa., and Timothy W. Baker of Chapel Hill, N.C.; a daughter, Rebecca D. Staut of State College, Pa.; two stepsons, David R. Dyross of St. Louis and Daniel J. Dyross of Columbia, Mo.; a stepdaughter, Deborah L. Koski of Severna Park; a sister, Allison Davies of Santa Rosa, Calif.; and 17 grandchildren.

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