March 12, 2023
Dr. Ron Baker
Dr. Ron Baker, 76, a former UB missionary doctor in Sierra Leone, passed away on Friday, March 10, 2023, in Berrien Springs, Mich.
Visitation: 5-8 pm Friday, March 17, 2023.
Funeral: 10 am Saturday, March 18, 2023, with visitation one hour beforehand.
Visitation and Funeral Location: Berrien Center Bible Church, 8830 M-140, Berrien Center, MI 49102 (berriencenter.church)
Ron grew up mostly in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where his parents, Dr. DeWitt and Evelyn Baker, were United Brethren in Christ missionaries. In 6th grade, at the Kabala-Rupp school for missionary children in northern Sierra Leone, he committed his life to Jesus Christ. He was able to immerse himself in the local language and culture, which would serve him well when he came back as an adult to serve as a missionary doctor.
Ron graduated from Huntington University, where he met his wife, Jane, and from Indiana University Medical School. In 1974, the Bakers arrived in Sierra Leone as fulltime United Brethren missionaries. Ron become Chief Medical Officer at Mattru Hospital. During the next 16 years, Mattru became a thriving, well-known hospital with a strong spiritual foundation. By 1981, the hospital had grown to 69 beds with pediatrics, obstetrics, surgical, and out-patient units. Many new buildings arose on the hospital’s 15 acres.
Being one of only a few white men who were fluent in Mende, the local language, Ron was greatly respected. He recalled years later, “Every time we did surgery, we prayed out loud. We had guys who could pray in several different languages. I could pray in Mende or Krio, Solomon could pray in Temne or Sherbro, another guy could speak Limba. We couldn’t speak all of the languages, but we covered a lot of them.” The locals were also drawn to him and his family due to the love of Christ demonstrated to them.
Upon leaving the field in mid-1990, Ron began working permanently at Southwestern Medical Clinic in Stevensville, Mich., where he had worked during his furloughs since 1981. It was a way-station of sorts for a number of missionary doctors. Over the years, Ron made a number of trips back to Sierra Leone, often leading short-term medical teams.
Ron’s motto was “Work Hard. Play Hard.” He loved to share his passion for hunting and fishing, mentoring many in the craft. Ron was very active at Berrien Center Bible Church. Most importantly, throughout his life he made it a priority to share his faith with countless people in the US and overseas.
Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. DeWitt and Evelyn Baker; and his younger brother, Norman, who was killed as a boy in a boating accident while on a school trip in Sierra Leone. He is survived by his wife Jane; children Jennifer, Jeff, and Julie and their families; and sisters Joyce Hewitt and Annette Shepherdson.
As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to Huntington University (huntington.edu), UB Global (ubglobal.org), or Berrien Center Bible Church (berriencenter.church).
Messages and memories may be shared online at allredfuneralhome.com.