Beloved American Author Passes Away After a Fall, Fans and Family in Mourning

January 23, 2019Jan 23, 2019

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Russell Baker passed away on Monday at his home in Leesburg, Virginia. He was 93.

Baker is known for his whimsical “Observer” column in the The New York Times. He wrote the column for 36 years, and the New York Times writes that it "turned a backwoods-born Virginian into one of America’s most celebrated writers."

The cause was complications from a fall, according to his son Allen Baker.

Baker was one of the best-known newspaper humorists of his time. The Washington Post ranked his best-selling autobiography, “Growing Up,” with the book of other American greats James Thurber, H. L. Mencken, and Mark Twain.

Baker started his career as a police reporter before becoming a Washington correspondent for The Times. He covered the White House, Congress, and the presidential campaigns of 1956 and 1960.

In 1962, he became a columnist for The Times. He wrote 5,000 “Observer” columns before he retired in 1998. From 1993 to 2004, he was also the host of Masterpiece Theater on PBS.

Baker wrote 15 books. That included his memoir “Growing Up,” which told of "his Depression-era youth, his inspirational mother and America between the wars." He earned his second Pulitzer for the biography.

After his retirement, he continued to write. He wrote on politics, history, and journalism for the New York Review of Books.

In his last column for the New York Times, “A Few Words at the End,” on Christmas, “a day on which nobody reads a newspaper anyhow,” he wrote about his long career in newspapers.

“Thanks to newspapers,” he wrote, “I have made a four-hour visit to Afghanistan, have seen the Taj Mahal by moonlight, breakfasted at dawn on lamb and couscous while sitting by the marble pool of a Moorish palace in Morocco and once picked up a persistent family of fleas in the Balkans.”

Baker married the love of his life, Miriam Emily Nash, in 1950. She died in 2015 at 88 after 65 years of marriage. Baker is survived by three children, Allen, Michael and Kasia, as well as four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He is also survived by two sisters, Doris Groh and Mary Leslie Keech.

Please join us in praying for the family that is mourning his passing.