The Freedom From Religion Foundation received a $5,000 bequest in October in memory of C. Edwin Baker. While all such remembrances and bequests are touching, hugely appreciated and significant, there’s a special story behind this memorial gift.
Baker, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, died unexpectedly while exercising in his gym on Dec. 8, 2009. He was only 62.
His sister, Nancy Lynn Baker, Ph.D., a trustee of the C. Edwin Baker 2001 Trust, explains: “He left the bulk of his estate to charity. However, he did not specify what charities. Instead, he established a committee of four people to make those determinations. That committee has selected your organization to receive a donation of $5,000.”
Also enclosed was a lovely and detailed program from her brother’s New York memorial service detailing his impressive accomplishments. He was one of the nation’s leading First Amendment and media policy scholars and held a joint appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication in Philadelphia. “His life and work were dedicated to supporting equality, human liberty, participatory democracy and progressive social change.”
Baker was born May 28, 1947, in Nashville, Tenn., and grew up in Madisonville, Ky., and Iowa City, Iowa. He graduated from Stanford University and Yale University’s College of Law. At the time of his death, he lived in Greenwich Village.
He was the author of four books, including his first, Human Liberty and Freedom of Speech (Oxford University Press, 1989). He authored over 70 professional articles, book chapters and many op-ed pieces. Colleagues described him as “the finest media law scholar of his generation.” He was particularly concerned about the concentration of media ownership and the loss of active newspaper reports and testified on those issues before Congress in 2009.
“To carry forward his commitments to liberty, equality and progressive social change, Ed Baker left the majority of his estate to charity. It was his hope that whatever material wealth he had accumulated during his lifetime could be put to use to make the world a better place,” his trustees wrote FFRF.
“We are honored that Professor Baker’s trustees chose FFRF to be a recipient and will put this memorial donation to work defending the First Amendment,” said Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
He is survived by his sister, Nancy Lynn Baker, of El Granada, Calif., who is on the faculty of Fielding Graduate University; her spouse, Cathy Hauer; and seven first cousins, with whom he was very close. He was preceded in death by his parents, Falcon O. Baker Jr. and Ernestine Magagna Baker.