Monday, April 6, 2009

The Passing of Photographer Robert Hardy Baker

Robert Hardy Baker of Santa Cruz, California, died at his home Thursday, February 12th, following a long illness. Robert was born to Robert Hardy and Mary Sill Baker in Jersey City, New Jersey, on August 29th, 1945. He grew up in New Jersey and in Westboro, Massachusetts. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied photography under Minor White and graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor's degree in Humanities and Science.

After college Robert taught photography at the Art Institute of Boston and then joined the Polaroid Corporation as a writer and editor. In 1977 Robert was hired by Ansel Adams and moved to California. Robert co-authored the series of books on how to make photographs, The New Ansel Adams Photography Series, and Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs. These books have sold several hundred thousand copies. He was also director of the Ansel Adams Workshops in Yosemite National Park for two years.

In 1985 Robert entered the burgeoning world of software documentation as a technical writer. Over the years he worked as a senior technical writer, project manager, publications manager, and vice president, holding positions at Lifetree Software, Borland International, Starfish Software, and Agile Software. He did contract work for a number of other companies. In 2004 he retired to devote himself to his many interests.

Robert was a gifted writer and faultless editor. He brought to his work a love of literature and the arts as well as an understanding of technical issues. His colleagues esteemed him for his patience, bonhomie, and dry sense of humor.

Robert had an affinity for languages and a special interest in the French language and culture. He relished polishing his language skills by taking courses and traveling often to France. Music, particularly music composed for the piano, was another passion of Robert's, and he possessed a very keen ear. In midlife he bought a piano and learned to play it. He also sang in the Cabrillo College Chorus, tackled courses in music theory, and served on the board of the Santa Cruz Chamber Players. All brought joy to his life and added to his trove of friends.

Robert was a loving friend and family member, a kind and quiet soul, and a font of knowledge. He leaves behind his step-daughter Danielle Levine of San Francisco, sisters Joanna Baker and Ashley Nugent of Kansas City MO, brother Frank Baker of Raleigh, NC, and many friends in many places. We mourn his passing and miss him greatly.

Donations may be made to The Nature Conservancy of California, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington VA 22203. Please be sure to note "In memory of Robert H. Baker." And to Santa Cruz Chamber Players at P.O. Box 4174, Santa Cruz, CA 95063.

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