November 14, 1946 — May 21, 2020
Charles Harrison Baer left this world to be with the Lord on Thursday, May 21, 2020 after living 73 years filled with compassion, love, and laughter.
Charlie was born in Huntington, West Virginia on November 14, 1946 to Peter and Virginia Baer. He was the second of three sons, and the child of a dedicated attorney in town who also loved life in the country. Charlie and his brothers enjoyed both the beauty and solitude that accompanied rural living on acreage and the pleasantries and academia provided by the city of Huntington. In his youth, Charlie’s mother and father instilled in him the importance of selflessness, as well as the significance of family and a strong work ethic—values that endured a lifetime.
Charlie had an innate love for water. He spent many of his childhood days in the water—from swimming and fishing in the lake at his family’s property to swimming competitively in the pools of West Virginia to lifeguarding at the Riverside pool in Huntington. At age twelve, Charlie achieved the title of All-American in swimming. Charlie was educated at the Catholic schools in Huntington, and he graduated from St. Joseph Central High School in 1965. He matriculated to Michigan State University on a full scholarship for fencing. During college, Charlie finished second at the NCAA nationals. Charlie completed his studies at MSU with a degree in Physiology. After graduation, he moved to Kentucky and began his studies at the University of Kentucky Dental School. It was during this time that Charlie met the love of his life, Judy Williams.
Judy and Charlie met in the fall of 1968 on a blind date to the University of Kentucky’s Homecoming football game. It was love at first sight, and on July 10, 1971, they were married at Estes Chapel in Wilmore, Kentucky. Charlie and Judy began building a wonderful life together, and they were blessed with the birth of their first daughter in April of 1972. Over the next seven years, their family had grown to three daughters. The bond of this Baer family of five was strong, and they enjoyed many great years together over multiple states and across the seas. Charlie loved his wife dearly, and it was evident to everyone who knew them that Judy was his true queen. He wrote numerous poems to Judy expressing his deep love, and he was always by her side cherishing her and supporting her.
As the son of Navy Lieutenant Peter Baer who served in WWII, Charlie learned the value of service and love of country from his dad. Charlie served proudly in the U.S. Army in Dentac for 20 years as a pediatric dentist. He began his proud military career in 1972 as a Captain and eventually rose to the rank of Colonel. He was stationed with his family in Kansas, Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma as well as two overseas tours in Germany. The Baer family loved their time in the military, and they forged numerous bonds of friendship that continue to endure.
Charlie retired from the military at Fort Sill, Oklahoma on September 30, 1992. Even though it was far away from the place of his birth, he and Judy decided to settle in Lawton, Oklahoma, and it is there that they chose to stay for the remainder of his days. After Charlie’s retirement from the military, he put away his dental tools and followed his heart to serve in a professional capacity as the administrative director of a local counseling center. Charlie believed in the power of God’s loving grace and forgiveness as well as the infinite hope for healing. He served as the director of the Christian Family Counseling Center for 28 years. Charlie worked tirelessly to fundraise in order to provide free and reduced-fee counseling for clients who otherwise would not be able to receive counseling services. Through Charlie’s administrative leadership alongside the Clinical Director, Glen Ryswick, the dedicated counselors, staff, and board of directors at the center have been able to positively impact countless people in the community. The numerous friendships Charlie created through the counseling center was the greatest reward of his professional life.
As a dad, Charlie’s daughters would all three tell you that he was the best there ever was. He loved his girls immensely, and he referred to them as “Charlie’s Angels.” Charlie was a constant source of steadfast strength and unbounded compassion for his girls, and he was intentional about spending time with them on a routine basis. He was never distracted when he was with his daughters; rather, he always chose to be fully present in mind, body, and spirit. Charlie decorated birthday cakes and made handcrafted, tissue-paper, balloon hats for all their birthdays. He attended numerous sporting activities—gymnastic meets, swim meets, soccer games, tennis matches, and cross-country meets, to name a few—and he always had just the right words of encouragement to share, whether cheering them up after a disappointment or cheering for joy after a win. On any given night, you could find Charlie helping with homework, playing the piano while his girls danced and sang along, reading The Chronicles of Narnia at bedtime, or saying prayers as he tucked his girls into bed.
Faith in the never-ending goodness of the Lord carried Charlie through his life. Charlie immersed himself in the abundant beauty and fullness of God, and out of this wellspring flowed an appreciation for and pursuit of the arts. Charlie created paintings, stained-glass windows, and poetry that exhibited his deep spiritual love for his heavenly Father. He treasured his time outdoors in the mountains or at home watching the birds. Most days, he could be heard gently playing his favorite hymns or Fred Bock’s musical compositions on his piano in the living room, or zealously studying the scriptures of the Bible in his favorite chair. He was a faithful supporter of Lawton Pro Musica since its inception, and he was a current board member. Charlie served as an elder at Dayspring Community Church; he taught numerous Bbible studies and Sunday schools; and he often stepped in to preach services at churches when needed. During his military tours in Germany, one of his favorite joys was developing spiritual relationships and community with other soldiers at the Hospitality House.
The greatest gift God bestowed on Charlie later in his life was his beloved grandsons. “Papa Baer” loved them deeply and affectionately. He invested his knowledge, wisdom, and timely encouragement in his grandsons. Charlie was always observing them, figuring out how to cultivate unique relationships with each one. Once the grandkids taught their Papa how to use technology, he would spend a few minutes each day challenging them with a Word of the Day. He loved the back and forth bantering about how much better his Sooners were than “that other team.” He was his grandsons’ biggest fan; they all made him proud. And his grandsons reciprocated the same adoration and affection he had for them. Their Papa mesmerized them with his unique ability to tell stories, creating fictional characters to tell them all about his adventurous childhood. In recent days, he wrote a collection of these stories titled “Bearden” that will be published posthumously. Each time his grandsons read the words in his book, Papa will come to life. They will see the crazy faces he would make, hear his witty accents, and laugh at his overly-dramatic presentations of each story. They can stand tall, salute, and say, “My Papa changed his community and the world.”
Charlie is survived by his loving wife of 48 years, Judy Baer, along with their three daughters and their families: Carrie Baer and Houshang Seradge of Edmond, Oklahoma and their family Rich and Espanta Steppe and children Cyrus, Kamran, and Kian; Whitney and Patrick Finley of Nichols Hills, Oklahoma and children Ethan, Carter, and James; Barkley and Mark Loser of Argyle, Texas and children Parker, Cole, Ryder, and Baer; Charlie’s two brothers and their wives: Tom and Phyllis Baer, and Jim and Nancy Baer; along with numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and extended family whose lives were better for having Charlie in them.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Christian Family Counseling Center, 5002 SW Lee Blvd., Lawton, Ok 73505.
A viewing for Charlie’s friends will be on Thursday, May 28th, 12:00pm-9:00pm, at Becker-Rabon Funeral Home. Because of these current times, the family will hold a private service on Friday, May 29th at 1:00pm, and the service will be live streamed for all who knew and loved Charlie. Burial with military honors will follow at Post Cemetery, Fort Sill. The service may be viewed by following the livestream link at www.beckerfuneral.com or by visiting the Becker-Rabon Funeral Home Facebook page.
An online guest book and sympathy cards are available at www.beckerfuneral.com