(WBIR) To the very end, Sen. Howard Baker Jr. remained a true son of Tennessee, never forgetting his Scott County roots.
Baker, 88, died at his home in Huntsville, Tenn. on Thursday, following complications from a stroke he suffered last week.
In Scott County, several businesses and organizations changed their signs outside in memory of Sen. Baker.
Some of his strongest relationships developed in East Tennessee.
"'My roots are deep in this soil,' it's a comment he frequently made," said W.H. "Bill" Swain, Baker's close friend.
Baker and Swain met more than 70 years ago at the train station in Oneida. They created a bond that lasted until Sen. Baker's death.
"The people here accepted him not as Sen. Baker, so much as Howard Henry. He was a person that everybody liked, I believe, whether they agreed with him or not," Swain said.
Swain served as finance chairman for Baker's senatorial campaigns in 1964 and 1966. He was also the best man in Baker's wedding to his late wife, Joy Dirksen.
"He has always been one not to take personal credit," he said.
Baker's impact on Scott County was widespread.
When 10News asked Scott County Mayor Jeff Tibbals what Baker has done for the county, Tibbals responded with, "'What has he not done for this county?' would be a better question. He's instrumental in the airport. We have an excellent airport and that's mainly due to him."
Sen. Baker spearheaded the creation of the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.
"He'd call Huntsville 'the center of the universe,' is what he would always say," Tibbals said.
Beyond his political career, Sen. Baker's photography tells the story of his life.
At the Scott County Justice Center, General Sessions Judge Jamie Cotton created a space for Baker's photography.
"He never spoke beyond the people and not only that, he never felt above the people. He was one of us," Cotton said.
Cotton went on to show a photo of Baker, smiling with a camera in his hands. To the right of the photo it reads, "Photography is my diary."
"What I love about this photo is this is the Sen. Baker we knew," Cotton said. "This is the person we remember so well."