James H. Baker, who served Baxter County as judge for twenty years from 1961 to 1980, will be the guest speaker for the Tuesday, September 27 meeting of the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society. Judge Baker will speak on “My Life and My County.”
“I was elected in eleven races,” says Baker, talking about what contributed to his long service as Baxter County Judge. He acknowledges, of course, that in a few elections he was unopposed, but he views his repeated successful runs as a sign that the public approved of his service as the administrator of county government.
A Baxter County native, James Baker attended Big Pond School as a boy, and went through high school at Horace Mann School in Norfork. He remembers that he began to think about participating in local government as early as the fifth grade, when he heard B. B. Foster, County Superintendent of Schools, talk on public service during a school assembly. It was Baker’s goal from then on, one which he later achieved with great success.
During his tenure as Judge, Baxter County was the fastest growing county in the state. His success as Baxter County Judge for 20 years led to the naming of the James H. Baker Law Enforcement Building, where the Sheriff’s Department is headquartered, in his honor.
After retiring from the position of Baxter County Judge in 1980, Baker was appointed by the Governor to serve in the Association of Arkansas Counties. He worked there for 20 years as well, the last 12 as Executive Director of the Association. Judge Baker retired in 2001 at age 70. He currently resides in Little Rock.
Along with speaking to the Historical Society, Judge Baker will be presenting the collection of papers associated with his time as County Judge for inclusion in the Society’s archives in the Heritage Center at 808 Baker Street.
Members of the Historical Society are eager to hear the memoirs of Judge James H. Baker. The public is invited to attend the meeting, which will be at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 27, in the Knox Room of the Donald W. Reynolds Library Serving Baxter County. Admission is free and guests are always welcome. Call 870-425-2551 for information.