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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
WILLIAM OLIVER BAKER 1915–2005
Elected in 1975
“For contributions leading to the exploitation of synthetic polymers incommunications equipment, synthetic rubber, ablation heat shields,and rocket propellants.”
BY A. MICHAEL NOLL
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
WILLIAM OLIVER BAKER, former president and chairman of Bell Telephone Laboratories, died on October 31, 2005, at the age of 90, after a slow decline in his health. During his last years, many friends and colleagues were able to visit with him at the nursing home where he stayed and where his son Joseph tended daily to his needs. Bill might be characterized as a “diplomat of science” or a “science patriot” for his significant contributions to the nation. He might also be called a “science humanist” for his advocacy of using science for the benefit of humanity.
Bill was an advisor to nearly every president since Truman, including Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. He had a close relationship with President Eisenhower, who asked him to create the first White House science advisory body and to help create the Defense Communications Agency to facilitate the use of communications technology by the intelligence community. As a tribute to Bill’s contributions to national defense, particularly to intelligence activities during the Cold War, the Security Affairs Support Association established a prestigious yearly award in his name. Bill was the longest serving member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board; he resigned in 1990.
Bill was a board member of many philanthropic organizations, universities, companies, and government agencies, including the Aerospace Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, and Princeton