Russell Baker Two Time Pulitzer Prize Winner Dies at 93

BakerRussell Baker, the two time Pulitzer Prize winner and host of “Masterpiece Theatre,” died at his home in Virginia on January 21, 2019. He was 93 years old.

Baker’s death was announced on Jan. 22 by the Mirror Newspaper and The Inquirer, local newspapers where Baker owned a summer home and confirmed by The New York Times late Tuesday night. The cause of death was not reported, but his son, Allen, told The Associated Press his father recently fell and died shortly after.

In a statement, Allen Baker wrote Nobody could have asked for a better man to be his father. He was a loving man who was a normal person who just had an unusual occupation.

Baker served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1945 and was trained as a pilot during World War II. In 1947, he graduated from John Hopkins University and joined the Baltimore Sun as a police reporter. In 1953, he became the paper’s London Bureau Chief.

During his career, Baker won two Pulitzer Prize Awards and was considered to be one of the most important and influential essayists of the 20th century.

Baker earned his first Pulitzer in 1979, for commentary, and in 1982, he won for his autobiography “Growing Up” which told the story of what it was like growing up in the Great Depression. His autobiography was one of 15 books he wrote during his lifetime.

Besides the Pulitzer Prize Awards, he won two George Polk Awards.  His first award was granted in 1978  and 1998 for career achievement.

Baker also was a chairperson of the Columbia University Pulitzer Prize board of directors.

He worked as a columnist for 36 years with The New York Times, which was the longest running column in the paper’s history. He announced his retirement in 1998, on Christmas.

After his retirement, he wrote for The New York Review of Books on multiple subjects such as journalism, history, and politics. In 2002 he published “Looking Back,” a collection of 11 essays about public figures.

At the age of 67, in 1992, he became the host of the PBS Show “Masterpiece Theater” following Alistair Cooke. He stayed in that position until 2004.

Baker’s wife, Mimi, died in 2015 from Ovarian Cancer, at the age of 88. He leaves behind three children, Allen, Kasia, and Michael.

Written by Barbara Sobel
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

Loudoun Times Mirror: Mimi Baker, wife of revered writer, dies at 88
New York Times: Russell Baker, Pulitzer-Winning Times Columnist and Humorist, Dies at 93
CNN: Russell Baker, Pulitzer Prize winner and host of ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ dies at 93

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of  Fort Green Focus’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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