By SHERRY DIGMON
Alabama Representative Alan Baker was presented with the Gold Medallion Award from the National Association of Secretaries of State Monday afternoon, October 31. The presentation was made by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill in the Escambia County Courthouse.
“I’m excited to be here for this special celebration for Alan Baker,” Merrill said. “ … I told
him I was disappointed he didn’t have anybody come today.”
The joke was that the main courtroom was almost full of friends and well-wishers. Merrill said sometimes only the recipient shows up. This was certainly not the case Monday.
“This award is not something taken lightly,” Merrill said. “In the Alabama capitol, there’s a permanent plaque with the names of all recipients. Alan’s name will be there.”
Two people had been asked to speak on Baker’s behalf.
Escambia County Sheriff Heath Jackson said he knew Alan Baker as Coach Baker at T.R. Miller High School. Though Jackson didn’t play football under Coach Baker, he watched him and saw how he treated his players.
“The kids adored and loved him,” Jackson said.
When Jackson was elected sheriff and became involved with the state Sheriff’s Association, he knew Baker on a different level.
“I began working with Rep. Baker,” he said. “I soon found that he cares about what we’re trying to do. His knowledge is outstanding. He taught me a lot on the football field and in the statehouse. Leadership – that’s what the country has been short on, but our county has not been.”
Probate Judge Doug Agerton said, “That man sitting right here is one of the best representatives for us we’ve ever had in this county. He is an excellent representative for us. My boys played for Coach Baker. I never heard them say he didn’t do something right or he wasn’t fair.”
Crediting Rep. Baker, Secretary Merrill and Ala. Sen. Greg Albritton, Agerton said, “We have safe and secure voting in our county, in our state. Three men in this room make sure everything is done right.”
Sec. Merrill said when he was elected to his position, it didn’t take him long to learn how respected Baker is in the State House.
He chose Baker for this award because of “what he means to the state of Alabama and the United States of America. If there was a person I could pick, to say I want this individual to represent me in my district, it would be Alan Baker.”
When Baker spoke, it was to speak of others, not himself.
He thanked Secretary Merrill, Sheriff Jackson and Judge Agerton.
Then he said, “To God be the glory.”
He introduced his wife Kaki – “My rock, my anchor. She’s always by my side.”
Baker recognized his staffs in Escambia and Baldwin counties.
He spoke of his parents (both deceased) and introduced his brother Baxter and sister Nelda, both in attendance.
Baker recognized two other people seated with his family – Sue Andress, his Sunday school teacher when he was a child, and Barbara Page, one of his teaches at T.R. Miller.
Baker thanked everyone for coming and being part of the presentation.
“My life is a reflection of all of you,” he said.