Norman L. Baker

Norman L. Baker, war hero, scientist, publisher and historian passed away at the age of 93 on Sunday, August 25, 2019. He embodied the true American spirit with an unfaltering dedication to his country, his family and the preservation of our nation’s history.

Baker, a 60-year resident of Fauquier County, Virginia lived a long and fulfilling life both professionally and personally. He was born in Reyno, Arkansas in 1926, a child of the Great Depression, learning early the value of hard work and perseverance. He served our country with both bravery and distinction in two major wars. Norman received his BS degree as an aerospace engineer at the Indiana Institute of Technology, was a member of the White House Press Corps, and was a noted historian of the American Colonial Period. Most importantly, he was a devoted family man who cherished spending time with those he loved at his home, Summerset in Virginia.

Entering the military at age 17, Norman fought courageously and heroically as a Fourth Marine Division soldier in the Pacific Theatre including the battle of Iwo Jima. He later served two tours, often on the front lines in the Korean War. Norman served as past President of the Fourth Marine Division Association.

Following his graduation from the Indiana Institute of Technology, where he received the Order of the Silver Slide Rule Award, Norman joined Boeing as a Development Engineer on the Bomarc Missile Program. He was credited for having initially proposed the development of a Space Shuttle vehicle in October 1955. Later he was asked to move to Washington, D.C. to be editor of Missiles and Rockets magazine. While in DC, he founded Space Publications, a publishing company covering the defense and aerospace industry through newsletters, such as the Defense Daily and Soviet Aerospace. Norman was also a founder and president of the National Space Club, which began in 1957 to recognize American leaders in the space program. He established the annual Astronautics Engineer Award in 1958, which seeks to recognize the nation’s most outstanding space engineers.

Norman was an esteemed member of the White House Press Corps where he served as a White House correspondent for six administrations; He also served as a Senate and House Press Gallery correspondent, and was Dean of the Pentagon Press Corps.

In his later years, Norman was an enthusiastic researcher of the American Colonial Period, served as a historian of the French and Indian War Foundation and a board member of the Braddock Road Preservation Association. He compiled what is considered to be one of the most comprehensive studies identifying and locating forts of the French and Indian War. He is the author of Frontier Forts of Berkeley County (1999), French & Indian War in Frederick County, Virginia (2000), Valley of the Crooked Run: The History of a Frontier Road (2002), Fort Loudoun: Washington’s Fort in Virginia (2006), Braddock’s Road: The Final Thrust (2011), Braddock’s Road: Mapping the British Expedition from Alexandria to the Monongahela (2013) and Braddock’s Road: Historical Atlas (2016).

Norman received a number of awards during his lifetime including the Golden Owl award of the National Press Club, the Life Membership Award of the National Space Club, the 1959 Congressional Robert Hutchings Goddard Medal, the Stewart Bell Jr. Award, the Shenandoah University’s President Award, the Fort Loudoun Award, the 2013 Judge Robert Woltz History Award. In 2011, he was inducted into the Virginia Historical Series Hall of Fame.

Norman will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Suzanne, his brothers Glenn and Donald Ray; his children Gary, Molly, Syntha, Suzy and Maggie; grandchildren Lora, Alexandra, Catherine, Matthew, Cameron, Patrick, Harrison, Kathryn and Jack; great-grandchildren Taylor, Imogen, Sawyer and Izobel; and godchildren Tucker and Tommy.

Norman was preceded in death by wives, Peggy Woody, and Lois Shanner Baker, his son, Alan Dale Baker and sisters, Rose Mary Babcock, Glenda LaBlance and brothers, Eugene Baker, Charles Baker.

A funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 5, 2019, at Omps Funeral Home, Amherst Chapel, 1600 Amherst Street, Winchester, Virginia. Interment will be in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Winchester, Virginia. A luncheon will follow the interment at the George Washington Hotel, Ft. Loudoun Room.

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