Newton D. Baker

Martinsburg Evening Journal
December 27, 1937

Newton D. Baker Rites To Be Held In Cleveland Tuesday

Native Of Martinsburg, Later War Secretary Under Wilson, Dies Suddenly

Became Prominent Attorney - Son Of Physician In Martinsburg, Spent Early Life Here

A sketch of the life of Newton D. Baker will be found on page three of today's issue.

Newton D. Baker, 66, native of Martinsburg and who spent his early life here, later Secretary of War in the World War period and who as secretary mobilized the greatest United States Army in the history of this country, died Saturday at his home in Cleveland. Rites will be held in Cleveland Tuesday afternoon with interment in that city.

The short-eloquent statesman who served in the World War Cabinet of President Wilson had been confined to his bed since shortly after his 66th birthday December 3. He was first stricken several months ago in Syracuse, N. Y.

He recovered from this attack and resumed some of his law practice. As counsel for a number of utilities he recently appeared in court at Chattanooga, Tenn., in a suit involving the utilities and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Born in Martinsburg

In the later years of his life he had withdrawn gradually from the multiplicity of interests which he cultivated after leaving public office, living quietly at his home here and visiting his law office frequently.

Baker, born in Martinsburg, was the son of a physician in the Confederate army.

Last year he resigned as chairman of the Cuyahoga county (Cleveland) Democratic central committee, a position he had held for 26 years. He said then "it is up to us older men to give the young fellows their chance."

Had Quiet Christmas

Baker is survived by his widow, one son, Newton D. Baker, third; two daughters, Mrs. Margaret Wright, of St. Louis, and Mrs. Elizabeth McGean of Cleveland; and five grandchildren.

Although reluctant in late years to express himself on political questions, he studied international affairs closely. A little more than a year ago, he said "the world is in the most unsafe situation I have ever seen it."

Members of the family had gathered at the Baker home for a quiet Christmas. The former War Secretary's son, Mrs. Baker, Mrs. McGean, a physician and nurse were with him when he died.

Members of the family said he was "cheerful to the last" and felt well enough to join in some of the Christmas festivities. He conferred for a while early in the day with his law partner, Joseph C. Hostetler.

Dr. Roy Scott, one of his physicians, said Baker had suffered from heart trouble for several years. Death was caused, he said, by coronary thrombosis. Baker was conscious to within a few minutes of his death.

Members of the family said he made his last visit to his law office December 3, his birthday.

Eulogized For Service

Simple services will be held Tuesday for the former Secretary of War, eulogized by prominent Americans as one of the Nation's great leaders.

Arrangements called for the body to lie in state with a military guard of honor in Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Tuesday morning.

The family asked that processions for paying last respects be formed early because the cathedral will not hold the crowds expected for the last rites in the afternoon.

Burial will be in Lake View cemetery in Cleveland, near the graves of President James A. Garfield, John D. Rockefeller, Senator Marcus A. Hanna and Ambassador Myron T. Herrick.

"Death was very sudden," said his son, Newton D. Baker, 3d. "He seemed well and happy to the end."

In Mr. Baker's service as Secretary of War with resident Woodrow Wilson in World War days, few were closer linked than Gen. John J. Pershing.

Gen. Pershing said Monday in Tucson, Ariz., "Mr. Baker was America's greatest Secretary of War." To him he gave "full credit for success of providing men and materials and their transportation to Europe."

Newton Baker Was Native This City

Spent Early Years in Martinsburg, Also Made It Point To Stop Here If Possible

Newton D. Baker, whose death occurred in Cleveland Saturday, was a native son of Martinsburg, born at the Baker home at 203 East Burke street, now owned and occupied by Dr. and Mrs. James H. Shipper.

He and his father were most intimate, and friends here said Monday morning that credit for the son's success in life should be given the father, who studied with and encouraged the son always. He was one of several brothers and, said to have been different from the average boy of the crowd, did not seek beyond his family for intimates.

He was graduated from Martinsburg High School and left immediately for college, never spending any great length of time here afterward. He returned whenever possible, however, and for years retained his membership in Trinity Episcopal Church, often attending services there when in the city for brief periods. He had spoken at gatherings of Martinsburg High School Alumni Association, in behalf of patriotic projects and political campaigns in the city.

It was said Monday that his last visits to the city were in 1936 when he stopped briefly, twice within a short space of time, while making trips to the Valley for a law case in which he was interested.

The Berkeley Bar Association, of which the deceased was a member when he began his practice in this city, sent flowers to the Baker home Monday. It was expected that Attorney Clarence E. Martin, this city, former president of the American Bar Association, would attend the rites Tuesday.

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