(WBIR) A small Scott County church prepares to host a celebration of life service for one of Tennessee's greatest political icons.
The service, honoring Howard H. Baker Jr., is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 1 at First Presbyterian Church in his hometown of Huntsville, Tenn.
Days ahead of the service, First Presbyterian Church began preparing for the influx of visitors from across the country, even the world, who are expected to pay their respects to the former senator this week. The church's pastor, Martha Anne Fairchild, said her congregation of about 100 active members is finalizing its plan to host a larger group than normal.
"We know that the limitations of our size means that we won't be able to seat everybody who want to be seated," said Fairchild. "But we're going to do our best to have seating for church members and for at least some members of the community."
First Presbyterian is where many people could find the late senator worshiping on Sundays, according to Fairchild.
"For nearly all of his life, if he were in town, he would be in church on Sunday," said Fairchild.
First Presbyterian is filled with footprints of the late senator. Baker, who was a talented photographer, took many pictures that hang on the church's walls.
"Every summer since the 1970s, Sen. Baker has overseen a group photograph of everyone who attended the church's homecoming service and in many of them, he actually took the photograph," said Fairchild.
There's also a photograph of President Ronald Reagan's 1982 visit to First Presbyterian. Baker invited Reagan to his church when he was in the area to visit Knoxville. About five years later, Reagan asked Baker to become his Chief of Staff.
Chief of Staff is one of many prominent positions Baker held. During his decades of service, Baker also was a U.S. Senator, Senate Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader, and a U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
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Baker became well known nationally when he helped guide the country through one of its darkest moments, the Watergate break-in and cover-up. During the televised hearings into the scandal that ended Richard Nixon's presidency, Baker raised the most memorable question from Watergate: "What did the President know, and when did he know it."
To honor his extensive service to the U.S., Baker's body will lie in repose inside the rotunda of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center of Public Policy on the University of Tennessee campus from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday. Parking is available in the White Avenue garage.
In lieu of flowers, the Baker family requests that contributions be made to the following:
Howard H. Baker Jr. Center of Public Policy, 1640 Cumberland Avenue Knoxville, TN 37996
Howard H. Baker Jr. Medical Scholarship Fund, PO Box 600 Huntsville, TN 37756
People can send their condolences online at www.rosemortuary.com.