Ben L. Baker of Muskogee, Oklahoma passed away at the age of 64 from cancer on June 17, 2013. He was born on October 15, 1948 to the late Bill and Joyce Baker. Ben was a 1966 graduate of Muskogee Central High School. He attended Northeastern University and graduated in 1970 with a history and physical education degree.
In the fall of 1971, Ben went to Gore, Oklahoma to start their first football program. In his six years at Gore, Ben and his players completed many successful seasons. Ben worked with and met many wonderful people at Gore who remained so dear to him his entire life. Ben’s former football players honored him in October 2012 with an appreciation dinner at their Friday night football game where they presented him with a plaque that read, “In appreciation to Ben Baker for a great foundation we are continually building upon” Gore Pirates Past, Present and Future 2011.
In June of 1977, Ben and his family moved to Muskogee where he became an assistant coach for the Muskogee Roughers. In 1982, he went back to head coaching at Hilldale High School and from there he went to Fort Gibson High School as an assistant football coach until his retirement in 1999. Ben then enjoyed being a lay coach for the Bacone College football program and then Wagoner High School.
Ben is survived by his wife, Bonny; his daughter, Jill Smith and husband, Darrin; sons, Scott Baker and wife, Sarah, Brent Baker and wife, Candi; his brother, Mike Baker and wife, Phylis; his brothers-in-law, Dr. John Miller and wife, Alexandria, Don Miller and wife, Kathy; his nieces, Connie, Amy, Jennifer, Kristy, and Tiffany; his nephew, Mark Miller; and his five grandchildren that were his greatest source of love and joy in his life, Bayley Baker, Brenli Baker, Grayson Smith, Mallory Baker, and Maggie Baker.
The family would like to express a sincere and special thanks to Hometown Hospice employees, Kathy, Rhonda, Tonya, Candy, and Janet, who were always so kind and caring; and also to Dr. David Kyger.
Family visitation will be 5-7 p.m., Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at Cornerstone Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the First United Methodist Church, 600 E. Okmulgee St., Muskogee, Oklahoma, 74403, or to the memorial fund that has been set up at Armstrong Bank of Muskogee in honor of Coach Ben Baker to be distributed to the football programs of all the schools he has coached.
Funeral services celebrating the life of Ben will be 11:00 a.m., Thursday, June 20, 2013 at the First United Methodist Church in Muskogee with Rev. Bill Lee and Rev. Cindy Culver officiating. Interment will follow at Agnew Cemetery with Mike Scantlin, Stan Sheffield, Clay Edwards, Jamie Young, Curt Denton, Larry Callison, Don Stout, and Stephen Smalley serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers will be all former players of Coach Baker’s teams, Tigers, Pirates, Roughers, and Bulldogs.
Services are under the direction of Cornerstone Funeral Home and Crematory, 1830 North York Street, Muskogee, Oklahoma. Condolences may be made to the family at www.cornerstoneofmuskogee.com