From the 2/26/1963 Rockford Register Republic
Senator Baker, Legislator 38 Years Dies
Charles W. Baker, lawmaker, politician and at the time of his retirement dean of the Illinois Senate, died at 4 a.m. today in St. Anthony hospital, he was 86.
Known as "Hand Shaking Charlie," he served from 1916-26 in the Illinois House and from 1928-56 in the Senate. He had represented both Ogle and Winnebago counties. A native of Ogle County, he had lived on a farm near Davis Junction with his wife Eva, until moving to 1416 East State street in Rockford ten years ago.
The former Republican legislator's recent illness had been complicated by a fractured hip he received in a fall in his home Jan. 21.
Sen. Baker was elected to the Illinois house in the same year Frank O. Lowden was elected the 25th governor of Illinois. Baker's contributions in the state assembly are spread throughout his long career. One of his important roles came comparatively early in his career when he served on a legislative comittee to decide what roads would be built with the $100 million bond issue of 1924 for hard roads and to "get Illinois out of the mud."
His continuous service was ended with his defeat in the 1956 primary election by Robert R. Canfield. Canfield now holds the senate seat.
He began his career in Ogle county as a township collector, then road commissioner and member of the county board.
While a supervisor, he won his first of five consecutive two-year terms to the state house in 1916.
His bid for election to the Senate in 1926 was delayed for two years when Herbert S. Hicks defeated him by 147 votes. Then in 1928, Baker won the first of seven four year terms.
He recalled last year his greatest thrill during his tenure in the General Assembly.
"My biggest joy from serving in the legislature came that day when Gov. (Len) Small promised me that the White Pines tract in Ogle county would be made into a state park."
Later he engineered another bill in getting a second state park for Ogle county--the Frank O. Lowden Memorial Park with Lorado Taft's statue of Chief Blackhawk along the Rock River near Oregon.
During the 1920's, a $100 million bond issue was approved for paving roads in the state. Baker was instrumental in having the following roads included;
US 51 from Rochelle to Beloit, Wis.
Illinois 75 from Beloit to Freeport, through Winnebago county.
Illinois 70 from Rockford to Durand.
US 64 through Ogle county.
Illinois 72 through Ogle county.
He also sponsored a bill to abolish his first job of township collector. The bill turned the job over to county treasurers.
During his 38 years in the state legislature, he served under eight governors--gov's Frank O. Lowden, Len Small, Louis Emerson, Henry Horner, Dwight Green, Adlai Stevenson, and William G. Stratton.
His family came to Ogle county in 1865. He was born July 10, 1876, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Baker. He and his wife were married for almost 65 years.
Memberships included Second Congregational church, Ogle County Farm Bureau and numerous Masonic lodges.
Survivors include his widow, Eva; one daughter, Mrs. Dorothy Carpenter, Harrison, and one sister, Mrs. Mona Hildebrand, Belvidere.
Eva B. Baker
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