Dr. Alfred L. Baker passed away peacefully in his home on March 1, 2022. He was born Feb. 17, 1940. His father, Smoot A Baker, was a minister and his mother, Ara Brueck, a director of church music.
Alfred graduated from Wake Forest University Magna Cum Laude in 1962 and attended medical school at the same institution. He received his M.D. in 1966. He completed residency training in Internal Medicine at Emory University/Grady Memorial Hospital and fellowship training in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Tufts New England medical Center in 1972. He also served as Chief Medical Resident at Tufts.
Dr. Baker joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1973, where he rose to the rank of Professor of Medicine and Director of the Liver Study Unit. While there, he also helped develop the first Liver Transplant program in the Midwest, which grew to be one of the largest liver transplant programs in the world. During Dr. Baker’s tenure at the University of Chicago, the liver program became the first in the country to perform a pediatric living donor transplant in patients with acute liver failure as well as multi-organ transplants (combination liver and heart).
Dr. Baker moved to Northwestern University in 2000, where he helped to expand their program in liver transplantation and in general hepatology. He helped to develop new therapies to treat liver disease and to suppress the immune reaction following transplantation. He retired from patient care in 2005 but remained as emeritus professor there. In 2005, he also received a lifetime Achievement Award from the American Liver Foundation.
Dr. Baker’s southern gentility charmed patients and families, and his wry sense of humor always brightened rounds and teaching experiences. Despite his failing vision, his clinical activities did not slow, often aided by his wife of thirty years, Dot, who would accompany him on rounds and in review of labs and records. Even after leaving the University of Chicago, he remained in his apartment in Hyde Park and stayed in touch with colleagues, sending messages of support and encouragement.
Dr. Baker’s legacy will live on in the hundreds of physicians who learned from him and the many thousands of patients who benefitted from his expertise and life of care, innovation, and scholarship.
He was preceded in death by his parents, an infant brother and his wife of 30 years, Dorothy Clark Baker. He continued to enjoy fruitful relationships with numerous nieces and nephews, cousins and friends throughout the nation.
Make memorial gifts to the Baker Scholarship fund at Wake Forest University or to Youth Programs at the Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer at 4950 S. Kenwood Ave.