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Henry Cecil Baker
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Birth: Dec. 2, 1895
Beaver County
Utah, USA
Death: Dec. 26, 1980
Cache County
Utah, USA

Mother Amy Walker
Father Henry F. Baker

Prophet Had Skills to be Some Writer

Deseret News (Salt Lake City), Jan 30, 2008 by Lee Benson, Deseret Morning News

About five years ago, I was doing research for a story when I came across the news clipping. It was old and yellowed and at the bottom of a file on a basketball coach named Cecil Baker, who was being inducted into the Utah Basketball Hall of Fame.

I started scanning the rather lengthy article quickly, looking for facts and figures I could poach, when I found myself slowing down and reading each paragraph.

The writing was different than the usual stock newspaper prose. It had an unhurried kind of poetic cadence to it that painted vivid descriptions and brought the subject matter to life. I thought maybe I was reading Steinbeck.

The article had been written when Baker was named head coach at Utah State University in 1950 after developing a habit of winning state championships at Salt Lake City's Granite High School, where he won six.

Following that hard news at the top of the article came the artful sketch of Baker's life. It contained such writing gems as follows:

"His grandparents joined the LDS Church in England. They came to Utah by way of Australia, and their long travels ended at the village of Adamsville where the Mineral Mountains slope to the desert. There from the side of a hill they carved a dugout which became their first home ...

"... By the time Cecil had reached his early teens he had learned the tricks of handling a freight wagon. The lanky Mormon kid from Minersville hauled freight between Newhouse, Frisco, and Milford, over the desert, up treacherous dugways, and past the gaming houses and saloons of the towns, of which Frisco alone had 21. He became acquainted with hard country and rough men. And he learned to keep quiet, mind his own business, and go about his work ...

"... With $400 borrowed from the Milford Bank he went to Logan to get an education. The money took care of his needs for the first year, and during the following summer he worked at hauling houses from Newhouse to Milford, and then took a contract doing grading for the Union Pacific in the desert north of Modena. Cecil Baker knows what it means to sweat in the sun for an education."

I finished the article and looked to the top to see who could have written such a fine profile. This was the byline:

"By Gordon B. Hinckley"

The man who would one day become president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and whose memory after his passing at the age of 97 is being cherished by millions, was 40 years old when he wrote the story on coach Cec Baker. He was working for church publicity at the time and submitted his article to the LDS Church News for publication.

Fifty years later, I held it in my hands and marveled at the elegant writing -- and, I confess, flirted with that commandment about not coveting another's talent.

As millions know, Gordon B. Hinckley took his uncommon ability to communicate to unprecedented levels. In his speeches and exhortations to build bridges and mend fences, he used the same compelling tone of language as in that article in 1950.

But if he'd stayed at the keyboard, he could have been some writer, that man who went on to become the 15th Mormon prophet. He had quite a way with words.

Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to and faxes to 801-237-2527. 
Family links: 
  Henry Friend Baker (1867 - 1959)
  Amy Walker Baker (1875 - 1970)
  Edna Catherine Hatch Baker (1904 - 1998)*
  Cecil Richard Baker (1926 - 2000)*
  Reynold Baker (1894 - 1894)*
  Henry Cecil Baker (1895 - 1980)
  Alvin H. Baker (1898 - 1981)*
  Jesse Baker (1900 - 1999)*
  Lois M. Baker Milne (1902 - 1972)*
  Thora Baker (1904 - 1905)*
  Hyrum Sloan Baker (1906 - 1906)*
  William Harold Baker (1907 - 2000)*
  Joseph Delos Baker (1909 - 1994)*
  Noel Elbert Baker (1912 - 1920)*
  Vance Baker (1915 - 1920)*
  Amy Golda Baker (1917 - 1918)*
*Calculated relationship
Logan City Cemetery
Cache County
Utah, USA
Plot: A_ 60_ 1_ 8
Created by: Burnt Almond Fudge
Record added: Oct 17, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 60240524
Henry Cecil Baker
Added by: Burnt Almond Fudge
Henry Cecil Baker
Added by: tracy
Henry Cecil Baker
Added by: tracy
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- Michael V Drachman
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- Wiltstilt13
 Added: Apr. 26, 2012

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