Dr. Timothy D. Baker, a professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where his career spanned more than five decades, died Dec. 17 of a stroke at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Cockeysville resident was 88.
His death is "an incredible loss for our program, the department, and the school to start, but really the entire global health community," Dr. Adnan A. Hyder, a professor of international health at Hopkins, said in a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health announcement of Dr. Baker's death.
"As the founder of our department, he was a powerhouse of knowledge, inquiry, and persistence; as a teacher and mentor he was a giant in the field; and as a proponent of the poor and vulnerable, he hid a warm and glowing heart under his witty exterior," said Dr. Hyder.
Dr. Stephen Teret had been a student of Dr. Baker's and later a colleague.
"Many physicians specialize in a particular organ — the liver, the heart, the brain. Tim's specialty was the human soul," said Dr. Teret. "He brought out the very best in his students and his colleagues. His legacy is a cadre of people doing good things for others throughout the world."
The son of Frank A. Baker, former president of National Sash Weight Corp., and Alice Candler Baker, a landscape artist, Timothy Danforth Baker was born in Baltimore and raised in Mount Washington.
He was a 1943 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and earned a bachelor's degree in 1948 in biology from the Johns Hopkins University. He earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1952 and a master's degree in public health from what was then the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in 1954.
Dr. Baker pursued advanced medical training at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London and at what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center, before completing his residency at the New York Department of Public Health.
After working as a district health officer in New York's Syracuse district, he traveled to India and Ceylon, where he fought malaria.
As assistant chief of the Health Division for the U.S. Technical Cooperation Mission, which became the U.S. Agency for International Development, during the 1950s, he played a key role in persuading Indian government officials to increase spending on the malaria eradication campaign.
"The drop from a million to a thousand deaths [from 1950 to 2000] underscores the value of the malaria program," Dr. Baker wrote in a 2008 article that was published in Science.
In 1959, Dr. Baker was named assistant dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and associate professor of public health administration.
Along with Dr. Ernest Lyman Stebbins, who was dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Dr. Baker co-founded the world's first academic department of international health and established the general preventive medicine residency program.
He also was instrumental in building the Department of International Health with chairman Dr. Carl E. Taylor and Dr. William A. Reinke.
Dr. Baker's reputation led him to become a highly sought after health systems consultant to four state governments and 24 national governments on five continents. He also was a pioneer in conducting the first health workforce studies across South America as well as in Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
From 1986 until 1993, he was the founding director of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program that trained foreign health professionals.
In 1951, Dr. Baker married the former Susan Pardee, and at his urging, she earned a master's degree in public health. She joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where her specialty was health policy and management.
"Ours is an unusual marriage," he told Science in the 2008 interview.
"It's neat to be married to someone you can brainstorm with over a problem, where we both know the people involved, the problems involved, and have some ideas for potential solutions," his wife explained in the interview. "It means we get a lot of work done driving to work together."
Dr. Baker was popular with both students and faculty.
"He was an incredible teacher and a mentor. He was also extremely supportive of my career in injury prevention, which is my field. He was a leader in that field at a time when very few people were," said Dr. Hyder.
"He was very important to us and we all feel very close to him. How lucky we were to receive his wisdom, insight and sharp advice," he said. "Not a man to appreciate praise, he always cut it short; not one to stand on pomp and ceremony he often avoided it; and not one to accept failure he believed in the power of humanity to succeed."
In addition to his work, Dr. Baker, who had not retired at his death, served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Public Health, Health Services Research, Journal of Family and Community Medicine, and Maryland Medical Journal.
Because of his work and its impact on public health, the American Public Health Association awarded him its lifetime achievement award in 1993. He was a member of the organization's governing council and chaired its Epidemiology Section and International Health Section.
"Our school will be an emptier place without Tim," said Dr. Michael J. Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "I will miss seeing him come down the hallway with that twinkle in his eye, knowing that some quip was about to be launched."
Dr. Baker enjoyed collecting rocks and fashioning the minerals he found into jewelry for family and friends. He also liked to ski, camp and write haiku.
A memorial concert is planned at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Baker is survived by two sons, Timothy D. Baker Jr. of Taiwan and David Baker of Brattleboro, Vt.; a daughter, Susan L. Baker of Girona, Spain; and two grandchildren.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun