Tahlequah Daily Press

December 30, 2013

Johnnie Leon Baker


TAHLEQUAH — Funeral services for Johnnie Leon Baker of Tahlequah will be Monday, Dec. 30 at 10  a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Tahlequah. Officiating will be Brother Bobby Botts.

Serving as pallbearers will be his nephews, Johnny Ray Fite, Jeff Phillips, Danny Joe Baker, Randy Gassaway, Ricky Gassaway, Keith Baker, Sean Edwards, Jimmy Greenhaw, Joe Dale Greenhaw, Casey Baker, and close friend, Buddy Clinton.

Interment will follow in the Tahlequah City Cemetery under the care of Green Country Funeral Home. Online condolences may be left at tahlequahfuneral.com.

Johnnie Leon Baker was born in Natchez, Miss. on Feb. 15, 1930. He was one of 12 children born to Charley and Gladys Baker. He departed this life on Tuesday, Dec. 24, in Tahlequah at the age of 83 years.

Johnnie attended school at Crittenden and Tahlequah. Johnnie was an avid horse lover all of his life. As a young boy at the age of 10 he started as a jockey and rode “Old Fox,” the family stallion, to many a brush track victories. Johnnie’s love for horses continued as he began a career as a professional rodeo cowboy at the young age of 15. For the next 30 years, Johnnie could be seen at Madison Square Garden in New York or hundreds of other rodeos throughout the United States and Canada.

Johnnie was as good a calf roper as you could find in his day. He was an all-around cowboy competing in calf-roping, bull riding, bareback bronco riding and team roping. After father time caught up with Johnnie, and his rodeo career ended, his love for horses continued as he started a horse racing career and for the next 30 years Johnnie trained and raced horses. At the age of 83, Johnnie was still feeding and taking care of “Old Spot.” If you talk to any cowboy or anyone who knew Johnnie well, they’ll tell you a better storyteller couldn’t be found.

Johnnie was an easy-going cowboy who never had a bad word to say about anyone. He loved life and he loved the way he lived his life. Johnnie eventually had to take on traditional jobs. For many years he was a school bus driver for the Hulbert Public Schools and worked for Cherokee County District 2.

Johnnie is proceeded in death by his parents, Charley and Gladys Baker; sisters, Eloise Jones, Maxine Brixey and Patricia Edwards; and brothers, Dickie Baker and Tony Baker.

Johnnie is survived by six brothers and sisters, Sonny and Sarah Baker, Shirley and Buddy Phillips, Betty and Dell Hall, Virginia Gassaway, Tommy and Linda Baker, and June and Jim Greenhaw; and 27 nieces and nephews. Johnnie is also survived by the love of his life, a steadfast companion for many years, Dorothy Crawford.

All will miss Johnnie’s carefree heart and kindness.

Green Country Funeral Home, 203 S. Commercial Road, (918) 458-5055.