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Baker, James E.

Baker, James E.

April 14, 1944 — October 24, 2022

James Earl Baker, 78, of Liberty, MO, and formerly of Macon, MO, passed away October 24, 2022, at K. U. Medical Center.

Jim was born April 14, 1944, in Poplar Bluff, MO, the eldest of three children of Christopher Columbus Baker and Dorothy Inez (Guess) Baker.

He grew up in St. Louis, MO where he served as bat boy for his beloved St. Louis Cardinals during the 1961 and 1962 seasons. On those teams, Jim was with four Hall of Fame players: Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendinst, Minnie Miñoso; as well as Curt Flood, Ken Boyer, Tim McCarver, and Bill White. Some players regularly shared meals with him and a couple even attended his HS graduation.

In college, Jim went on to an earn a master’s degree in Education from Northeast Missouri State University. After college, Jim served in the US Army during the Vietnam era, receiving honorable discharge in 1971 after achieving five ranks in six months. He supervised 10,000 troops in 28 sports as leader of the athletic programs at Fort Huachuca. His patriotism and respect for America and its armed forces remained for the rest of his life.

Jim coached for over 30 years and achieved an incredible total of 550 career wins as women’s HS basketball coach. He coached at Knox County HS, Macon HS, Liberty HS, Piper HS and Shawnee Mission North HS. The majority of his career was in Macon, Missouri where he coached the Tigerettes for 18 years to 8 conference championships, district titles and trips to the state tournament; 4 state quarterfinals; and 1 final four. His coaching produced all-state and all-American players. His mother, a talented athlete of her time, was instrumental in developing Jim’s dedication to equity for women’s athletics, even before the existence of Title IX.

His passion for sports went beyond basketball. He started the track, softball and baseball programs at Macon HS and was also head baseball and assistant football coach. Along with his coaching career, he taught both physical education and English, coordinated at-risk student programs, and was a guidance counselor.

Jim also took the initiative to start annual summer basketball camps that attracted student athletes from across the state. He continually stood up against child abuse and supported racial equality. He also worked with the Macon Jaycees to build a basketball court for those without access to one.

“Jumpin’ Jim” or “Bake” or “Coach” was famously vibrant, energetic, humorous, and was a gifted and memorable storyteller with a unique statistical mind and memory. He was beloved by his students and players and his relentless determination to help kids changed the lives of those he touched. He was quoted as saying, “The greatest part of the struggle isn’t always the destination, it’s the journey getting there. And the journey has been extremely exciting.”

Along with his parents, Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Susan Gale Baker. Survivors include his children, Kelle Baker Broussard (Chris), Armand Baker and Laura Kipkoech (Vincent); granddaughter Zoila Kipkoech; his significant other, Janet Hurst; siblings, Bobby Baker and Jane Avilez; as well as nieces, nephews, other family members and friends, including his dog Coco and cat Thumper. His greatest love was for his family to whom he was devoted.

Visitation will begin at 1:00 pm, followed by a service celebrating Jim's life at 2:00 pm, on Sunday, November 6, at Park Lawn Northland Chapel, I-35 at State Route 291, Liberty, MO. Committal services with military honors will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday, November 9, at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville, MO.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Wounded Warrior Project (

Service Information

Visitation will begin at 1:00 pm, followed by a service celebrating Jim’s life at 2:00 pm, on Sunday, November 6, at Park Lawn Northland Chapel, I-35 at State Route 291, Liberty, MO. Committal services with military honors will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday, November 9, at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville, MO.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Wounded Warrior Project (

Baker, James E.'s Guestbook

Jim is my older brother and oldest friend. Jim was a wonderful brother and friend. My oldest memories are of him. He was always smiling and happy. He was 2 years older than me and when he would discover or learned something, he would share it with me. Jim was smart, good looking, friendly to everyone, like our father was and a nice guy. I always wanted to be like my bigger brother. Jim, we are proud of you, we love you, and we miss you. Our memories will always keep you in our hearts and minds.

Bobby Baker

Jim was a dear cousin. I have many good memories of our time together as children. We lived nearby as many families did in those days. Our condolences to his family. I know his children are so proud of their father serving his country and also serving the community as an outstanding and caring coach. Kent Guess

Kent & Sandy Guess

I am so sorry for the passing of Jim. He was fighting so hard and truly not wanting to give up. I will miss all of his phone calls these past few years, particularly these last months. I’m sure he is regaling heaven with his wonderful stories and catching up with old buddies. Rest In Peace, Jim. I will truly miss you so much. Thinking of his family at this sad time.

Janice Spencer Smith

I am so sorry to hear this! I’ve tried finding him for the last several years with no luck. I wanted to thank him in person for saving me. He took a girl with minimal talent, and a stubborn attitude to succeed and gave me self worth. My father was not involved in my life, and he filled that void. He kept us honest with workouts that were difficult. He made us wear the ugliest orange blazers on game day….but we wore them with pride because of him and what they represented. He caught me downtown one day skipping school and practice and he made me lay for that by running laps while the team practiced. He encouraged us and brought us to our full potential. He held us accountable over the sumner months as we clocked our hours of practice. He brought me up to varsity my freshman year so I could go to State and just doing the warmup in that venue lit my heart on fire! And track……oh how he worked us in track. But again, he believed in us and got us in a great position to compete. I was living on my own during one state meet and overslept and missed the bus. He came to my house, drug me out of bed and drove me there. We had some quality conversation on that drive. 😀❤️ I will never forget Coach…..and all the wonderful things he did for us far beyond the gym or the track!!

Carla “Yount” Rodriguez

I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of Coach Baker. He was my basketball coach at Liberty and I loved playing for him. His energy and passion for the game inspired me to always work my hardest. I'm sending my most sincere condolences to his family. What a special man he was.

Lindsay (Holley) Brett

I am so sorry to hear that Coach Baker passed away. He had a huge impact on my life through his passionate coaching of a game he loved. He always gave 100% and strived to bring the best out of his team and players. . He taught us many lessons in life through basketball. The demanding practices which required intensity, hard work , and focus helped make me a better human being. He believed in us and always knew we could win which gave us confidence . My high school basketball experience was fabulous! Because of him, some of the challenges in life were a little easier to deal with because I had played a sport that required intensity, reliability, composure, grit, teamwork and a desire to excel and be competitive. Also, a few times losing with class and still holding our heads high. It wasn’t always easy and he had high expectations, and I now have a true appreciation for the countless hours he poured into coaching myself and out team! I really wish I could have told him this but I just wanted you to know that I am thankful for having him as a coach! Thinking of him brings back many wonderful memories being a Macon Tigerette! ❤️Valle

Valle Wilhite Rischer

“Bake” was a loyal and true friend that I will truly miss. He was always so positive and encouraging to me and was such a great mentor for me in coaching and in life, I learned so much from him. Words cannot express the sorrow I feel in hearing of his passing. Although Jim was a life long Cardinal, he is now an Angel. My thoughts and prayers are with Kelle, Armand, and all of Jim’s family.

Mike Smith

I send my sincere sympathy and all of my thoughts and Blessings to the family. Coach was my teacher in junior high at Macon High School. I was always known for talking a lot--still am. I'm short so I was never very good regarding athletics. One day, after class, he was getting after me for talking and made a comment: If you could run as fast as much as you talk you would be an asset to the girls track team. I tried out for track and ran the 100 yard dash and anchor for the 440 yard relay. He was one of the people that helped me instill confidence in myself. I will be forever Thankful that he was a part of my life and forever Thankful for the positive influence he brought to my life. Rest in Peace Coach.

Donna Llewellyn Lester

I’m so sorry for your loss.

Jeanna Roderick (Schelle)

Coach was a good friend to the Dunn family. Coach Dunn always enjoyed his visits No matter where he was we thought of him as a Macon Tiger fan. Now the two coaches can strategize together He will truly be missed

Bucky and Patty Dunn. Macon mo

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