William “Bill” Royall Baker

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CARTERSVILLE, February 26 – William “Bill” Royall Baker, of Cartersville, celebrated his 88th birthday with the Lord on the evening of Wednesday, February 20, 2013 after a short illness. Born in Columbia on February 20, 1925, he was the son of Sallie Garrett Baker and Robert Esten Baker Sr.

He graduated from Hamilton High School in 1942, and joined the U.S. Navy soon afterward. He served aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp in the Pacific Theater, flying in Dive Bomber Squadron VB86. Mr. Baker received the Air Medal for action during the battle of Kure Harbor and survived the Kamikaze hit on his ship some months later.

After leaving the service, he became the devoted husband of Charlotte Baker in 1947. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1951. Upon his graduation in '51, they moved to Newport News and then Hampton, where they raised three children. He was a founding member of Northampton Presbyterian Church where he served many years as an elder.

Email newsletter signup

Mr. Baker worked for thirty-seven years at Newport News Shipbuilding, in their facilities Engineering Department. There, he designed unique shipbuilding equipment such as a boring machine to cut holes through armored decks to Nimitz class aircraft carriers for reactor installation, and a machine to dynamically balance the propulsion shafts. As lead mechanical engineer for the North Yard expansion he supervised procurement and erection of the largest gantry crane in North America as well as state of the art fabrication shops and a dry dock used for construction of Liquefied Natural Gas carriers and Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

He retired in 1988 and 1998 they returned to live in a home he designed and supervised construction of himself, near their childhood homes, where they were active members of Oakwood United Methodist Church. He loved designing and working with machinery. Mr. Baker also loved hunting and spending time with his extended family. He exhibited great discipline and perseverance in his struggle with Type 1 diabetes.

He is survived by three children, Sharon Swink (Gilbert) of Norfolk, Dwight Baker of Cartersville, and James Baker (Joy) of Aiken, South Carolina; brother, Robert Baker; sister, Jeanne Kent; five grandchildren, Gilbert (“Bert”) Swink IV, David Swink (Jessica), Christopher Swink, Rachel Baker and Robert Baker; and a host of nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife, Charlotte Paige Irving Baker, brother, Howard Percy Baker, and sister, Julia Baker Parrish.

Funeral services were held Monday at Oakwood United Methodist Church, Cumberland County.

Memorial contributions may be made to Oakwood United Methodist Church, 1291 Columbia Road, Columbia, VA 23038 or the Diabetes Association.

Norman Funeral Home, Goochland, assisted the family.