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Howard H. Baker Jr., 1925-2014

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(Memphis, TN / June 26, 2014) Baker Donelson is deeply saddened to announce the passing of former Tennessee senator, presidential advisor and ambassador Howard H. Baker Jr., senior counsel to the Firm. Senator Baker, 88 years old, died June 26 from complications following a stroke he suffered on Saturday, June 20.

In 2005, following a distinguished public service career spanning 40 years, Senator Baker rejoined the Firm that his grandfather founded and where he formerly practiced with his father, the late U.S. Rep. Howard H. Baker. Senator Baker focused his practice on public policy and international matters.

"As a firm, we are devastated by the news of Senator Baker's passing and offer our support to his family during this time. He was truly a visionary leader with a servant's heart and made everyone around him feel comfortable. While this is certainly a sad time for all who knew Senator Baker, I am confident that his example of providing wise counsel and his commitment to clients, colleagues and the betterment of the world around him will continue to thrive in the culture here at Baker Donelson," said Ben Adams, chairman and chief executive officer of the Firm.

"The Senator helped shape our nation’s laws with his sense of justice and his desire to have all people's views heard. I am privileged to have been his friend and to have built a firm along his side that embodies his principles," said Lewis R. Donelson III, co-founder and senior counsel of the Firm. Mr. Donelson, who has been active in politics through his involvement at the local, state and national levels, chaired many political campaigns, including for Senator Baker. 

Senator Baker started practicing law in 1949 and in 1966 began his distinguished public service career, which included several notable accomplishments:

  • 1966 - Became the first Republican popularly elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee
  • 1973 - Gained national recognition as vice chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee
  • 1976 - Addressed the Republican National Convention as keynote speaker
  • 1976 - Served as a delegate to the United Nations
  • 1980 - Ran as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination
  • 1982 - Received the Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Performed by an Elected or Appointed Official
  • 1984 - Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award
  • 1985 - Concluded Senate career after two terms as majority leader (1981-1985) and two terms as minority leader (1977-1981)
  • 1985-1987 - Served on the President's Foreign Intelligence Board
  • 1987-1988 - Served as President Reagan's Chief of Staff
  • 1988-1990 - Served as member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs. Also served on the board of the Forum of International Policy and was an International Counselor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • 2001 - Appointed to a four-year term as the 26th U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President George W. Bush
  • 2008 - 
    • Received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers from Japan, that country's highest honor for civilians, recognizing Senator Baker's contributions to enhancing the friendship and understanding between Japan and the United States
    • Received the American Lawyer Magazine Lifetime Achievement Awar
    • Recognized with the United States Capitol Historical Society Freedom Award

"Senator Baker was renowned and honored for his extraordinary ability to cross party lines for the greater good of our country. He was a remarkable conciliator who was respected in Washington like no other and he helped navigate our country through some of our greatest challenges," said Scott Campbell, senior public policy advisor and managing director of the Firm's Washington, D.C. office. Mr. Campbell also serves as the president of the Howard Baker Forum, a public and international affairs affiliate of the Firm that is committed to a variety of programs and research projects that examine and illuminate public policy challenges.

Senator Baker also authored four books: No Margin for Error (1980); Howard Baker's Washington (1982); Big South Fork Country (1993); and Scott's Gulf (2000).

He is survived by his wife, former U.S. Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum, his son Darek, his daughter Cynthia and four grandsons.

"As a nation, we must never tire of reaching sound policies through bipartisanship, vigorous but honest debate and a healthy respect for the other fellow's point of view. It may seem old fashioned in today's acrid political atmosphere, but it is exactly what the American people expect of their leaders." 

- Howard H. Baker

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