A few weeks ago I informed readers of the passing away of Terry baker, formerly of the ESRI. Joe Durkan has asked me to post this personal tribute to Terry.
It was a great shock for me when I heard of Terry Baker’s death. He was someone I had known for over 40 years, had worked with as his research assistant on the Quarterly Economic Commentary, and had also enjoyed a good friendship. I met him first when I was interviewed for the job of Research Assistant in the ESRI in January 1969. We had more points of contact than is probably usual in these circumstances, as we had a shared, but not overlapping history, in Tanzania – Terry as a civil servant and me as a teacher. For both of us the experience convinced us that we wanted to stay in economics, and that economics could make a difference. We differed in approach, as Terry believed in calm persuasion offered over time, while I was ready to do battle. In the end we were both disappointed to see the mess the country is in now.
Terry and the then ESRI Director (Michael Fogarty) encouraged me to go to Nigeria. His judgement about the merits of the move was, as with so much of what he did, inspired. It was a tough physical environment, but the work was fantastic. When I returned he threw me into the Quarterly straight away. When I took over the Quarterly finally, Terry could always be relied upon to talk about the forecasts, to offer a different perspective and simply to bounce ideas with. Writing came easy to him and he would simply rewrite cumbersome sentences without comment. When I, very reluctantly, decided to leave the Institute in 1983, I persuaded him to go back doing the Quarterly and I think this was a good move for him.
Within the Institute Terry did an extraordinary amount of internal referring. His comments were incisive, but always took a positive bent. He also ran a team in the management game, which the ESRI won on many occasions. Terry well knew the value of the game, as it forced people to put numbers on the usual waffle about company strategy. This benefited generations of research assistants. He was also very generous. When I ran a team separately he kept a place for me on his when I finally bit the dust as he had well anticipated. I suspect he enjoyed the experience, but he made me feel welcome.
We met about twice a year after I left the Institute, most recently last autumn, when we agreed to get together after Christmas. His later years were sad, following the death of his wife, Pirjo, in 2007. Sadly, when I returned from a short break after Christmas, I learned of his death. His death, the more recent death of Mrs. Dempsey (the first ESRI Secretary), and now the death a colleague, Todor Gradev, just knocks the heart out of one. Terry was a very nice person, and will be missed by those who knew him. (Joe Durkan).