Retired HPD Sgt. Al Baker was longtime believer in education – especially the HPOU scholarships

Tom Kennedy, Editor

Retired HPD Sgt. Al Baker, a one-time spokesman for the Department, left a legacy centered around education and children.

Baker became a grandfather for the first time about three months before he succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on March 21, two days after his 61st birthday.

The 35-year HPD sergeant was a firm believer in education. His family stated its preference that in lieu of flowers that his friends instead make contributions to the HPOU Scholarship Fund. To date, according to HPOU’s Lisa Marino, $575 has been contributed, an amount that should cover at least two scholarships for the graduating high school sons and daughters of HPOU members who are headed to college.

Baker’s wife, Mary, explained the two-fold decision in connection with contributions in lieu of flowers, saying, “We made this decision as a family mainly because Al totally believed in education and increasing your knowledge. Our daughter, Kristina, was a recipient of one of the scholarships when she went to college.”

After his retirement from HPD, Baker became an officer with the City of Southside Place, where he was instrumental in the establishment of a Christmas season toy drive benefitting the Harris County Children’s Assessment Center.

Mary Baker explained that friends also have the option of contributing money to fund the toy drive. “These were two things that were passions of his – education and children,” she said.

“He touched a lot of lives. That (contributions to the scholarship fund) makes me happy. Our first grandson came in December on Dec. 31. Al got to meet him and hold him. We couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter as grandparents. He got to be ‘grandpa.’ ”

Mrs. Baker is compiling a book of sorts that will contain remembrances of Al Baker as a person and a law enforcement officer. He served as a Department spokesman from 1985 through 1990. Anyone interested in contributing their memories of Al should email Mary at marycarmenbaker@aol.com. “I’m making a book to include these stories,” she explained. “I will be thrilled to have those stories to put in that notebook for him. There were so many people he knew that I don’t know.”

The Bakers have another legacy, their son, HPD Officer James Daniel, a seven-year veteran stationed at Westside. James and his wife are the parents of that first grandchild, Bennett.

Baker earned bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Houston. Both Daniel and Kristina Baker Thames earned degrees from Texas State University in San Marcos.

Southside Police Chief Don McCall set up a blood drive for Baker in February. Mary Baker said she believes the blood drive will become a Southside tradition to benefit officers in need.