March 8, 1934 – June 26, 2021
The Rev. Powell Eugene Baker, Jr., better known as Gene, who served parishes throughout Dallas and north Texas, as well as south Texas and Manitoba, Canada, for 60 years, passed away at age 87.
He was born in Harlingen, Texas. Although raised a Methodist, he discovered the Episcopal Church while attending Southwestern University and received confirmation from Bishop Hines, who encouraged his sense of a call to ministry. After graduating from the Seminary of the Southwest, he was ordained in 1960 in St. Timothy’s in Cotulla. He was vicar there and at Holy Trinity in Carrizo Springs.
In 1962, he arrived in Thompson, Manitoba, at the time a recently established mining town. He was first rector at St. James in Thompson and visiting priest at the Cree communities of Thicket Portage and Pikwitonei. In 1965, he came to Dallas as assistant rector at Christ Church. Attending a lecture by the Rev. Malcolm Boyd opened new vistas for him, and he was inspired to get a master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Texas at Arlington.
During this time, he developed a passion for the work of C.G. Jung, the Swiss psychologist, regarding the process of individuation, dream study, and synchronicity. He was one of the founders of the C.G. Jung Society of North Texas, serving two terms as president and remaining on its board of directors until his death. He also began an ongoing Jung book club at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, which also houses the Jung library that he helped to assemble.
For 23 years, he was a therapist, part of the time in private practice. For 10 of those years, he was a psychiatric caseworker at Terrell State Hospital. But he never lost touch with his roots in the church, serving as a Sunday assistant in many Dallas churches and starting a spirituality group at Christ Church in Tyler. They bonded on field trips to places like the Dallas Museum of Art and Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains State Park. Twenty-five years later, members of this group still practice the spiritual disciplines they learned and remain close.
In retirement, he served as interim rector at the Church of the Epiphany in Commerce, Holy Trinity in Bonham, and St. Stephen’s in Sherman. He was a member of the Church of the Transfiguration, where he taught adult formation classes, gave the occasional homily for evensong, and for a time celebrated the Holy Eucharist at the Thursday noon service.
He also had a great love of music, whether in school, playing the tuba or marching out onto the field as drum major, or playing cornet with his jazz band, the Happy Six. He enjoyed singing in choirs, including St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Dallas Symphony Chorus.
Gene is survived by Ruth, his life partner for the last seven years, Sarah, his granddaughter, and Liam, his great-grandson.
A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 17, followed by interment of ashes at the mausoleum at the Bishop Mason Retreat & Conference Center in Flower Mound. A reception will be held in the church parlor.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Gene's memory may be made to his church.