Brother Bob Baxter
A joy-filled Friar with a gift for teaching, Brother Bob Baxter OFM, Conv. was known for his humor and quips. Though he could seem irreverent at times, those occasions only made more obvious his reverence for the most important things: his profound faith in God, his devotion to Franciscan life and his love of the Scriptures, which he knew intimately.
Brother Bob passed away on March 22, 2018, in New Albany, Indiana. He was born Robert Byrne Baxter Jr., to Robert Byrne and Theodora (Tuomey) Baxter on Sept. 5, 1949, in Bay Shore, N.Y.
He is survived by his sisters, Anne B. Humes (Bill), Elaine B. Tracy (Bill), Julie Baxter (Rob Robinson), Clare Baxter and Margaret B. Helmig (Albert); brothers, William E. and James E. Baxter; his uncle, Robert N. Tuomey (Joan) and five nephews and nine nieces. He was predeceased by his parents. He professed Simple Vows as a Conventual Franciscan Friar on Aug. 5, 1972, and Solemn Vows on Nov. 1, 1976.
As a native New Yorker, he loved the Yankees, “black and white cookies,” and combative conversation. “He was uninhibited and larger than life,” said his sister Elaine Tracy. “He had charisma; people were drawn to him.”
For the first 25 years of his life as a Friar, Brother Bob was a high school religion teacher, director of parish religious education and youth minister — sometimes all three at the same time. He served in schools and parishes in St. Louis, Mo.; Lorain, Ohio; and Indianapolis, Ind.
In 2001, Brother Bob was elected Secretary of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation and in 2008 began serving as director of retreats at Mount St. Francis in southern Indiana. It was there that he established a reputation for bringing the Scriptures to life in his weekly Bible study classes. Like St. Francis of Assisi, Brother Bob helped people understand that the Bible, the New Testament in particular, is about real people and real lives. Also like St. Francis, he loved Christmas and celebrating its true meaning: that through the Incarnation Jesus became a human being, just like each one of us.
Lexington (Ky.) Bishop John Stowe OFM Conv. was one of Brother Bob’s students at Lorain (Ohio) Catholic High School. He said: “… he knew the attractiveness and the joy of the Gospel, and embraced the freedom of living that Gospel in the spirit of Francis of Assisi.”
“He was our brother, but also a brother to so many others,” said his sister Elaine. “I think I know how he would console us all: He’d say to get over it; go out and do good things!”
Visitation is sheduled to be held at the Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Ind., on Tuesday, April 3, from 6-8 p.m. and on Wednesday, April 4, from 3-7 p.m. followed by a Wake. The funeral Mass will be held in the Mount St. Francis Chapel at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 5. Interment and luncheon will follow.
Contributions may be made to the Mount St. Francis Retreat Assistance Fund or to the Province of Our Lady of Consolation and may be mailed to 103 St. Francis Boulevard, Mt. St. Francis, Ind. 47146 or made online. For more pictures and a celebration of Brother Bob’s life, please visit the Province website: franciscansUSA.org.
Arrangements were handled by Kraft Funeral Service, New Albany, Ind.