In Remembrance: Robert Joseph Baker


I have never written an extended obit.  I have never had too. Bobby always did. Bobby always did a lot of things for me. I have worked hard in my career at The Manning Times but I do credit a lot of my success to Bobby. He was my number one fan, faithful and loyal. He was one of my best friends. 

Robert Joseph Baker worked for The Sumter Daily Item, for, to the best of my knowledge, eleven years before he came to work with me at The Manning Times. We had so much fun at the paper. We attended many events together and made many deadlines together. Some of my best adventures the last eleven years, from appearing on  The Jeffrey Lampkin Show to taking pictures for magazines along I95, were had with him. He would attend my children’s plays and games. He became part of the family. 

Bobby was sick. He had been sick for many years. When I met him eleven years ago he explained to me that he had a condition known as Hidradenitis Suppurativa. It is a painful clogging of the sweat glands that causes sores in the underarm, leg and groin areas in both men and women and additionally in the breast tissue in women. Several doctors have taken the drastic measure of removing the offending glands and infected tissues and Bobby had chosen to undergo the procedure. We talked about it and his condition often.  His strength to endure the physical pain of this condition was amazing.  

The year that we cohosted Relay together is when he found out he had Kidney failure. It was always his biggest fear.  He could not imagine being on dialysis. He was scared to go to the Kidney doctor but we knew something was wrong. I accompanied him on his first visit to Dr. Cain in Sumter and was there when he found out that his kidneys were indeed failing.  He continued to work with me and was even able to do his dialysis in his office.  He worked until it physically became impossible then he still worked a little more for me from his bed.

Bobby had a passion for writing and won many journalistic awards over his news media career. In the past few weeks he had been talking about writing a column for us again. I am sad he will not get that opportunity. His quick wit and dry sense of humor even when things seemed at their worst could still produce a smile from even the toughest critic. 

I will not sugar coat things, with Bobby you always knew where you stood. If he didn’t care for you, you knew it. But if he did he would do anything in the world for you. Although he lived in Sumter, his heart lived in Manning. He loved the community and the people. Well, most of them. Manning was his home.  When I received the phone call that my father had passed Bobby was standing right beside me in my living room, when he found his own father deceased just a few short years later I was his first call. I will miss him terribly and never thought he would be gone this young. We both have our forty year birthdays coming up this year and we were already giving each other a fit about it. I hate that he will not be able to celebrate that with me. I am still in shock that he is gone and probably will be for a while.

You can rest now Bobby.  I will miss you.

The full obituary from Stephens Funeral Home follows:

Robert “Bobby” Joseph Baker, 39, passed away Saturday, February 27, 2021, at his home.

Born April 22, 1981, in Sumter, he was the son of Marcia Christine Richardson Baker and the late Troy Lynn Baker. He worked in the news media business and he was a member of New Salem Baptist Church. 

He is survived by his mother of Sumter; two step sisters, Robin Purdy and Cindy Barrett; and two step great nieces, Whitney and Alaina.

In addition to his father, he was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Robert W. Richardson and Jennie Ruth Richardson. 

A memorial service was held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in the chapel of Stephens Funeral Home with the Rev. Dr. Kevin Massey officiating. 

Visitation was held one hour prior to the service from 1 to 2 p.m. at Stephens Funeral Home.

Memorials may be made to the National Kidney Center, 20081 Whistling Straits Place, Ashburn, VA 20147.

Stephens Funeral Home & Crematory, 304 N. Church Street, Manning, is in charge of the arrangements, (803) 435-2179.