Edith Irene Baker (Bailey) (1901 - 1994)

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Birthplace: Sevierville, Tennessee
Death: Died in Loudon, Tennessee
Managed by: Doug Robinson
Last Updated:

About Edith Irene Baker (Bailey)


Edith Irene Bailey Baker (17 November 1901 – 2 April 1994) was a United States Representative from Tennessee, the first woman to represent that state in the United States Congress as a member of the Republican Party. She was the widow of Howard Baker, Sr., and the stepmother of Howard Baker, Jr.

Irene Baker was born Edith Irene Bailey in Sevierville, Tennessee, on 17 November 1901, and attended public schools in Sevierville and Maryville.

She served as Deputy County Court Clerk of Sevier County (1918–22) and as Deputy Clerk and Master of Chancery Court (1922–24).

After her first husband's death, she went to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). In 1935, she married Howard Baker, Sr., who was a widower with two children. The couple raised Baker's two children from his first marriage, Howard H. Baker, Jr., and Mary Elizabeth Baker, and a daughter of their own, Beverly Irene Baker.

She served on the Republican National Committee from 1960 to 1964. After her husband died suddenly in office on 7 January 1964, she ran as a Republican in the Special Election to fill the remainder of his term, defeating Democrat Willard Yarbrough, a Knoxville journalist. As a candidate for the seat, she promised to serving only as a caretaker who would not seek further election; and she fulfilled that promise. While in Congress, she served on the House Committee on Government Operations and advocated for a balanced federal budget, coal mining interests, TVA, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission programs in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and cost of living increases in Social Security pensions.

After leaving Congress in 1965 she became Director of Public Welfare in Knoxville, Tennessee, a position she held until 1971. She died on 2 April 1994 in Loudon, Tennessee.


Irene Baker, US Congress's Timeline

Sevierville, Tennessee
Age 37
Sevierville, TN
Age 93
Loudon, Tennessee
Sherwood Memorial Gardens Alcoa Blount County Tennessee