Remembering ‘Miss Ruby’

Published 9:16 am Thursday, March 5, 2015

Members of the Ruby Baker family – top photo: from left, Michael and Crystal Lassiter (granddaughter of Mrs. Baker), and Mitch and Mary Lou (daughter) Byrum; bottom photo in foreground: great granddaughters Bray Roberson (left) and Haley Meeks  – take part in Monday’s candlelight ceremony in memory of the Ahoskie woman murdered one year ago. Staff Photos by Cal Bryant

Members of the Ruby Baker family – top photo: from left, Michael and Crystal Lassiter (granddaughter of Mrs. Baker), and Mitch and Mary Lou (daughter) Byrum; bottom photo in foreground: great granddaughters Bray Roberson (left) and Haley Meeks – take part in Monday’s candlelight ceremony in memory of the Ahoskie woman murdered one year ago. Staff Photos by Cal Bryant

AHOSKIE – As they have done so often over the past 365 days, the Baker family found comfort in each others arms here Monday evening.

During a brief 30-minute ceremony, family and friends of the late Ruby Martin Baker gathered on the front lawn of her Parker Avenue home. They lit candles, read poems and listened to the comforting words of three area ministers…all in remembrance of a simple woman whose 85-year-old life ended abruptly inside her home during the early morning hours of March 2, 2014 when an intruder shot and killed her during an apparent robbery.

Baker Web 2

The person responsible for pulling that trigger remains a mystery. The Ahoskie Police Department continues its investigation.

“We want to thank ya’ll for coming here tonight,” said Baker’s daughter Linda Meeks as she stood in front of a sea of candles, each emitting a soft light while a cool, late-winter breeze waved gently across the yard.

“It’s been a tough year,” Meeks continued. “They (Ahoskie Police) are still working on it. One day we will get our answer. I’ve been assured by the one (detective) in charge of the case that he will not leave until he finds out who is responsible.”

Mary Lou Byrum, another of Baker’s three daughters, read a poem she received at Christmas.

“These words really touched my heart and I hope they will speak to yours,” Byrum stated.

“You can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile because she has lived,” said Byrum as she read the words from the poem enclosed within a small frame. “You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left. Your heart can be empty because she can’t see her, or you can be full of the love your shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember her only that she is gone, or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

The family invited a trio of local ministers to add to the remembrance ceremony.

Rev. Daniel Mullens, pastor of Center Grove Baptist Church, said he did not feel worthy to stand and speak on the life and legacy of such a wonderful woman. He quoted biblical scripture from the books of Isaiah and Romans.

“As we stand here tonight on this cool March evening, I count it as an honor and blessing to celebrate the life of Mrs. Ruby Baker,” said Mullens. “Although I personally did not have the privilege of knowing her, I didn’t have to in order to see what a wonderful Christian lady that she was and still is as she continues to live through many of you.

“We need not to be weary,” he continued. “You should see that not only as a blessing, but as a lifelong challenge to be her voice of love and laughter to all those around you.”

Mullens noted that such an act of violence against Baker was not God’s will.

“(God) doesn’t wield hatred, or evil, or violence,” he remarked. “It is God’s will to love and be loved. It’s his will to grieve and to be sorrowful. It’s his will to laugh and be joyful; all the while being strengthened and comforted day-to-day by the one who promises to never grow weary.

“I know it’s been a tough year, but this family is strong; press on for the cause of Christ as Miss Ruby continues to watch over you,” Mullens concluded.

Minister Ricky Williams of Windsor urged the family to continue to place their trust in the Lord.

“Keep believing and keep trusting,” he said. “God is able; he’s able to work with you in this situation. Your loved one would want you not to worry about her because she’s in a better place.

“I was told that she was a Christian woman who loved the Lord and that her Bible was found to be open to the book of Proverbs,” Williams continued. “Those of us who love the Lord have a relationship with the Lord. We know there’s a better place prepared for us. We need to be prepared for when our day comes; ready when God calls us home.”

Rev. Ray Faircloth of Higher Ground Church said that Baker’s light still shines through her survivors.

“Thomas Campbell said to live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die,” he shared. “What moves through us is a silence, a quiet sadness, the longing for one more day, one more word, one more touch. We will never understand why you left this earth as you did, or why you left before we were ready to say goodbye. Little by little we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And your life gave us memories far too beautiful for us to forget.”

Faircloth stated that in Baker’s case, “85 years of loving others and shining a Godly beacon of light contains too much beauty to be overshadowed by the actions of an evil deed.”

Faircloth also shared a song he wrote 40 years ago when he was experiencing a tough time in his life.

At the conclusion of Monday’s gathering, Meeks shared the words of her late mother.

“Mama read her Bible at least once each and every day,” Meeks noted. “When we were going through some of mama’s things (following her death) we found a lot of little things she had tucked away in that Bible. It’s in her handwriting….‘Jesus, stand beside me; guide and direct my life; teach me what I need to know; help me with my work; let me serve you that I may be worthy of God’s grace.’

“Mama lived by these words; thank you all again for coming,” Meeks closed as she fought back the tears.

Baker was shot around 1 a.m. on March 2, 2014 by an intruder or intruders. She was transported to Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital where she succumbed a short time later due to a single gunshot wound to the chest.

The Ahoskie Police were alerted to Baker’s home through a call received from ADT alarm monitoring service. Responding law enforcement officers secured the residence and launched an investigation, to include calling the SBI for assistance.

Ahoskie Crime Stoppers along with the Baker family have posted a $5,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person/parties responsible for her death.

Anyone with information may contact Lt. Jeremy Roberts with the Ahoskie Police Department at (252) 332-5012, or the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations at (919) 662-4500.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh stressed that any information, no matter how small, can help lead his department to the killer.

“Our investigation into this case has not stopped and we welcome any additional information that we can use to solve this case and help this family have some closure,” Fitzhugh said.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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