Hundreds of mourners pay tribute to Sen. Howard Baker, Jr. in Kn

Hundreds of mourners pay tribute to Sen. Howard Baker, Jr. in Knoxville

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Hundreds of people came to Knoxville Monday to say goodbye to beloved community member and politician Sen. Howard Baker, Jr. Hundreds of people came to Knoxville Monday to say goodbye to beloved community member and politician Sen. Howard Baker, Jr.

By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Hundreds of people came to Knoxville Monday to say goodbye to beloved community member and politician Sen. Howard Baker, Jr.

Baker's body lay in state in the rotunda of the Howard K. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy on Cumberland Avenue on the University of Tennessee campus.

Related coverage: Remembering Sen. Howard Baker, Jr.

Baker died Thursday at his home in Huntsville, Tenn. at age 88. Baker served the state of Tennessee in the U.S. Senate, where he eventually was elected Majority Leader, from 1967 to 1985. Baker subsequently served as chief of staff to President Reagan and U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

A steady stream of mourners came to the Baker Center to say goodbye to the man whose influence stretched across nearly half a century. Many were personal friends, but many more were just people who appreciated and admired the man who always kept his country first.  

Wife Nancy Kassebaum Baker, his children and grandchildren greeted each and every visitor, who came from all walks of life.

Among the mourners were former UT head football coach Johnny Majors and former Gov. Don Sundquist, who spoke about the last time he saw Baker.

"I saw Howard and was going to bend down and whisper in his ear, and he put his arm around me and gave me a big hug. That meant so much to me," said Sundquist.

He meant much to many people, even those who only knew him from a distance and didn't always agree politically. 

"It didn't matter if you were a Republican or Democrat. He respected everybody and respected their opinions, and I felt it necessary to come out and pay my respects," said Rosetta Harkness.

She was just one of many who are remembering Howard Baker and know what we have all lost with his passing

Baker's body will now be transported to Huntsville. A funeral will be Tuesday at 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church. Many dignitaries, including Vice President Joe Biden, are expected to attend.

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