Carl Phillip “Phil” Baker was born on August 11, 1939 to Carl and Retha (Howell) Baker. Phillip grew up in Leonard, Oklahoma and graduated from Bixby High School in 1957. While in high school, he was a letterman in football, basketball, and baseball. By the time he graduated high school, sports had become a way of life for Phillip, and his athletic career didn’t stop there. He began his college and collegiate athletic career at Northeastern Oklahoma Junior College. His career continued at Northeastern State University where he played two years of football and one year of baseball. Phillip received both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Northeastern.
On July 31, 1965, Phillip married Vera Sowder. After marrying, the couple moved to Mossyrock, Washington where Phillip began his career as an educator and a coach. Phil always spoke fondly of Mossyrock, its beauty, and the wonderful times they had there as a young couple. In 1972 Phillip and Vera moved back to Tahlequah, Oklahoma. This is where he completed a 31-year coaching and teaching career at Tahlequah Junior High School in 1993, during which he won nine conference titles as head football coach.
Phillip achieved many accomplishments and received honorable distinctions throughout his athletic and coaching career. During his time at NEO Junior College, Phillip participated in the Junior Rose Bowl with an 18-0 record, as well as the National Junior College Athletic Association baseball tournament. He was co-captain of the football team, a member of the Norseman 1985 National Runner-up team, and received NJCAA All-American honors for catching 14 touchdown passes in two seasons. He is a member of the NEO Junior College Athletics Hall of Fame as well as the Tahlequah Athletics Hall of Fame.
Phillip enjoyed retirement to the fullest. On Sundays you could find him and Vera at Southside Baptist Church where they were active members. On most other days you could spot him driving down the road pulling either his boat or his golf cart for a day out with his buddies, who were more like brothers to him. Phillip and his close group of friends enjoyed fishing trips to Canada. Phillip also enjoyed traveling around the United States and Canada with Vera. If Phillip wasn’t at church, fishing, golfing, or traveling with Vera– you could bet he was either watching or discussing OU football.
On February 16, 2023, with his wife by his side, Phillip peacefully entered Heaven’s gates. Phillip is survived by his wife, Vera Baker, of 57 years, as well as several nieces and nephews.
Celebration of Life Memorial Services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at the Southside Baptist Church under the direction of the Hart Funeral Home.