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Obituaries : Joy Baker; Wife and Daughter of Former GOP Senate Leaders

Joy Baker, 64, wife and daughter of former Republican majority leaders of the U.S. Senate and a patroness of the theater. Mrs. Baker served on the boards of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and of Ford’s Theatre, which awarded her its Lincoln Medal this year. As a recovering alcoholic, she also became a spokeswoman for alcoholics and their support groups. She was the wife of Howard Baker Jr., who served in the Senate from 1966 to 1984, was elected majority leader in 1981 and unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for President in 1980. He abandoned a second run at the presidency to serve as President Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff in 1987 and 1988, and resigned because of his wife’s ill health. Mrs. Baker was the only child of the late Illinois Sen. Everett M. Dirksen, legendary leader of the Republican Senate majority. On Saturday in Huntsville, Tenn., of cancer.


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