Hardwick Caldwell Jr. Remembers Senator Howard Baker Jr.

Friday, June 27, 2014 - by B.B. Branton
Hardwick Caldwell
Hardwick Caldwell

Longtime Lookout Mountain, Tn. businessman and McCallie School graduate (’40) Hardwick Caldwell remembers the late U.S. Senator Howard Baker Jr. (McCallie, ’43) best for his demeanor and ability to work well with people, even those with differing views.

“I had the privilege of knowing Senator Baker for several years before his death this week and have always been impressed with his tactfulness and poise in working with people on both sides on an issue,” said Mr. Caldwell who knows a good bit about working with people of different personalities to accomplish a common goal as he is a former Lookout Mountain, Tn. commissioner and past chairman of the McCallie board of trustees.

“We all watched the Watergate hearings in the early 1970s and recall so vividly Senator Baker’s famous question, ‘what did the president know, and when did he know it,’ Mr. Caldwell stated.

Mr. Caldwell and Senator Baker had a mutual friend in former Senator Bill Brock, also a McCallie graduate (’39) and whose term as Senator (1971-77) coincided with Baker’s time in the Senate, 1967-1985. All three men served in the U.S. Navy as Baker was part of the V-12 program as a student at the University of the South (July 1943-July 1944) and later received an Honorary Degree from the University.

Good Sense of Humor: Mr. Caldwell recalled a funny story that Senator Baker once told about his driver who was stopped for speeding by a Tennessee highway patrolman.

“Howard told of the quick-minded driver who, when asked by the policeman to show his driver’s license, said, ‘I bet you are the policeman who has been assigned to escort Senator Baker to the airport so he can catch his flight back to Washington.’ Without hesitating, the policeman escorted Senator Baker and his driver to the airport and no ticket was issued.”

Senator Baker’s Legacy: “I feel Howard’s legacy is that he had great character, had the ability and patience to work well with people from so many different walks of life and the wisdom to understand that he didn’t always have to win the battle, but was able to convince people to reach a workable solution,’” said Mr. Caldwell who was instrumental in establishing the McCallie School Caldwell Chair of Christian Ethics, while the school established the Howard H. Baker Chair of American History in 1986.

From embracing the McCallie motto of Honor Truth and Duty and the Honor Code at Sewanee, the late Senator Howard H. Baker Jr. was known throughout his adult life – attorney, U.S. Senator, ambassador, White House chief of staff - as a true American statesman who had the rare ability of helping others reach a common goal through give and take, yet was one who held fast to his beliefs and convictions of right and wrong.

Howard Baker
Howard Baker

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