July 20, 1973 - April 6, 2021
On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, Joe Payne Baber, loving and devoted husband, father, son, brother and friend answered God’s call home at the age of 47. Joe was born to Janet Knowles “JK” Baber and James P. “Babo” Baber on July 20, 1973 in Dallas, Texas.
He is preceded in death by his father, James Payne Baber, and children, Joe Everett and Catherine Jane Baber. He is survived by his wife Erin, son James, mother JK and sister Angela, aunts, uncles, cousins and countless friends.
He attended Good Shepherd Episcopal School, Jesuit Preparatory School and graduated from W.T. White High School. Joe quickly made lifelong friends at all of these schools and lived the Jesuit principle of “Men for Others”.
Joe attended Texas Tech University before finding his call to serve our country in the United States Navy. He quickly rose into leadership as a Damage Controlman and Fire Marshall, earning several service awards. He departed the Navy in 1996 “to go see about a girl back in Texas”, who asked to be his pen pal throughout his final tour in the Persian Gulf. During their correspondence, Joe expressed his commitment to being a lifelong Episcopalian as well as a sincere and deep appreciation for the sacrifices his mother made to “love the hell out of him.”
Joe married his pen pal, Erin Michele Baker on June 1, 2002 and they enjoyed many adventures: sailing competitively and for pleasure, traveling and listening to live music, or just grilling and dancing on the deck. Joe spent 14 years as a sailmaker and transitioned into owning his own exterior shutter company. After many years of trying for biological children, they heard and answered the unique calling of adoption. In 2012, Joe and Erin welcomed home James Payne Baber. Joe’s greatest joy was instilling the values of faith, family, and service into his son.
Joe had a passion for connecting with people. In the grocery store, he would never hesitate to reach out and ask how he might know someone that looked familiar. If it turned out they didn’t know each other, at the end of a 30-45 minute conversation, they felt like they knew him for years. He had a group of veterans he would meet up with at Walmart on Saturdays during grocery shopping.
Joe lived his life in service of others. It meant not only loving God, but fulfilling the 2nd Greatest Commandment of loving his neighbor by responding to their needs. He loved people unconditionally, but not without pursuing an understanding of each person as an individual.
Joe was a man that poured his soul and body into his relationships and commitments. He loved serving Good Shepherd in many ways, as a verger, acolyte trainer, mentoring youth on their confirmation journey, on vestry or simply making good food for the people he loved.
Joe was larger than life, he changed the tone of a room with the devious gleam in his eye, a welcoming smile that made you feel at home in an instant, or a joke/story that would never seem to end.
He wrote in his first letter to his pen pal,
There is no problem in life so big that a little laughter can’t cut it down to a size where you can talk to it.”
Joe is a light upon a hill to so many. His laugh is still a dance between playful vexation and infectious triumph. As we hold fast to our memories of Joe, may we all be drawn closer to each other and ultimately to Jesus, our Good Shepherd.
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