Sterling Ray Baker, Sr., age 84, died peacefully on September 3, 2019 at The Hospice Home in Burlington, N.C. He was born August 15, 1935 in Cumberland County. To be more specific, he was born in Massey Hill in the house he grew up in across the street from the Mill. He was very proud of his Massey Hill heritage for it was there he learned the importance of Faith, Family and Friends.
He was the youngest child of Lucille Ray and Arnie Baker, both deceased. He is survived by his devoted and loving wife of 57 years, Joyce Gray Baker, daughter Sheila Baker Daw (Christopher) of Silver Spring, MD, son, Sterling Ray Baker, II (Amy), Raleigh, NC, three grandchildren Clayton Ray Baker and Sarah Brooke Baker of Raleigh, NC and Isabelle Gray Daw of Silver Spring, MD. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by three siblings: Margaret Baker Zylinski, Richard Curtis Baker and Jack Conrad Baker.
Sterling was a graduate of Massey Hill High School, class of 1954 where he was a three sport athlete excelling and lettering in each, as well as setting many school records. He was the Quarterback of the 1953 State Class A. Championship Team and selected as a Quarterback for the East-West All Star Team. He received offers to play basketball for Campbell and football for Catawba.
He served in the U. S. Army from 1958 to 1960 continuing to play basketball on a competitively select team while stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas. After an Honorable Discharge and on “Stand-By” status, he was called back into “Active Duty” during the Berlin Crisis.
Sterling’s love of sports continued with participation on Industrial League teams and later coaching his son’s basketball teams. Above all, his greatest love in life was the care and support of his family which included a close relationship with his son-in-law Chris and daughter-in-law Amy. He became a loud supporter of his grandchildren during their Lacrosse and Soccer games calling them by their nicknames: Main Man, Hollywood and Broadway.
Sterling’s career with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Enforcement Division, began on December 1, 1961 advancing through the ranks to Captain of District V, stationed in Burlington, NC. He retired after 34 years of service. Just this year, an award was established in his honor “The Sterling R. Baker Model Wildlife Officer” to be presented annually to an Officer who meets standards outlined by the Selection Committee.
He was an avid hunter and fisherman and a Charter Member of The Club of Seven in Caswell County. He was always grateful to the Jones family for allowing him to hunt their farm in Chatham County. Sterling enjoyed both salt and freshwater fishing, especially his trips to Chesapeake Bay, VA. He was an ardent supporter of the North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation.
Sterling was a Master Mason and long-term member of Masonic Lodge No. 646, A.F. & A.M. in Elizabethtown, N.C. He also served as past President of Alamance County Law Enforcement Association. As an accomplished woodworker, he crafted many heirloom pieces for his children and grandchildren.
Sterling was a member of First Baptist Church, Broad Street, in Burlington where he was a member of the Pilgrim Sunday School class. He has served as an Associate Deacon and on several committees including Properties, Baptism and Communion. He worked with the Baptist Men building handicap ramps and assisting elderly members with their general maintenance needs. Briefly stated, Sterling was a practicing Christian, a believer in the Golden Rule, a kind man with a Servant’s heart.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, September 9, 2019 at 11:00 AM at First Baptist Church, 400 South Broad Street, Burlington, NC officiated by Dr. Terry Peele. Family will meet friends in the Gathering Room following the service. Interment will follow at LaFayette Memorial Park, 2301 Ramsey Street, Fayetteville, NC.
In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials to First Baptist Church, 400 S. Broad Street, Burlington 27215, to Hospice and Palliative Care of Alamance-Caswell Counties, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215, or N. C. Wildlife Habitat Foundation, P.O. Box 514, Greensboro, NC 27409.
The Baker Family extends their heartfelt thanks to Dr. J. B. Walker, III for his years as Sterling’s primary physician, Duke Heart Center (Sylvie Hill, PA and Dr. Blazing); Duke Cancer Center (Drs. Polascik, Harrison and Salama); all Hospice and Palliative staff, especially Vanessa and Lori.