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Remembering Bob

October 21, 1924 - April 11, 2020

This is a space to share thoughts, reflections, stories, memories, prayers, photos, and tributes inspired by and documenting the life of our beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, relative and friend, Robert H. Baylis.

Please contribute by commenting at the bottom of the page in the Tributes section.

 

Obituary

“Only one life; t’will soon be past;
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

 

(quote from C. T. Studd, of the Cambridge Seven, on the title page of Bob’s autobiography)

Robert Henry Baylis, born October 21, 1924 in Oakland, California, died peacefully on April 11, 2020, in Sonoma, California.

 

Robert, most often known as “Bob” Baylis, was raised by his parents, Esther and Harry Baylis, in Alameda, California, where he graduated from Alameda High School. Following high school, Bob was drafted into the U. S. Army, where he served in World War II. After his discharge from the military, he enrolled at San Jose State College, where he earned a B.A. in English Literature. During his college years, Bob was active in the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), in which he served as president for a year. It was also during his years at San Jose State that Bob met and married Clara Naomi Deffenbaugh of Santa Rosa, California, and a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, their first son, Jonathan Robert, was born during Bob’s time in San Jose.

 

Following Bob’s graduation from college, he accepted a staff position with the IVCF ministering to students throughout the Great Lakes Region of Minnesota. It was during Bob and Naomi’s three years in Minnesota that their second son, Kenneth Charles, was born. Bob then brought his young family back to California, where he pursued graduate studies in Literature at San Francisco State College and Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Bob and Naomi’s daughter, Janet Priscilla was born in San Francisco.

 

Bob taught high school until he reached the age of 50, at which point he opened Logos Bookstore in Berkeley. He then opened and operated a travel and touring agency in the same building as the bookstore.

 

Bob was always an avid book collector, visiting used bookstores wherever he went, specializing in first editions of all of C. S. Lewis’s books. He owned a complete collection.

 

Bob worked with several others to found Valley Church of Moraga, near the family home in Orinda, California. For many years, he served as an elder at Valley Church, leading Bible studies and preaching.

 

Over the years, Bob authored six books on the subjects of meaningful travel for Christians, discussion Bible studies and the history of the Plymouth Brethren.

 

Bob travelled widely from 1958 to near the end of the Twentieth Century, most often leading groups of Christian students and alumni to significant sites in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He was one of the first tour operators to take US Citizens into Siberia. One of his tours was from Capetown to Cairo in antique autos.

 

Bob was an accomplished graphic artist. He was an expert at silk screening and produced Christmas cards with original designs for many years. He did metal etchings in great detail. He was never happier than when he was designing a hand-painted sign for one purpose or another. He did life-like pen and ink, charcoal and pencil drawings, including one of his first baby, Jonathan. He designed all his promotional brochures himself, with careful precision. His artistic sensitivity extended to photography; he took thousands of color slides, many of excellent quality. He owned a Kodak Carousel projector and had a pull-down screen mounted behind a beam in his living room. Few of his guests escaped without a well-organized and narrated slide show on one topic or geographic site or another.

 

Like his father, Bob was an anglophile and traditionalist. He was committed to following British traditions, particularly in the Christmas season, when there was always flambéed plum pudding with hard and soft sauces.

 

In 1996, Bob and Naomi moved to Sonoma, California, where they were active in Sonoma Valley Community Church, celebrated their fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries and lived out the remainder of their lives.

 

Bob Baylis is survived by his sons Jonathan (Lorraine) Baylis and Kenneth (Tania) Baylis and daughter Janet (James) Herrick, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, nephews David (Susan) Baylis, Rodney (Gloria) Haskins, James Baylis and niece Judith Compton. He is predeceased by his parents, Harry and Esther Baylis, his brother, Kenneth Baylis and his wife, Clara Naomi Baylis.

 

When circumstances once again permit public gatherings, Bob’s family plans to hold a celebration of his life in Sonoma, California. Until then, we invite friends and family members to post tributes, stories, anecdotes, photos and videos to this website.

 
 

Bob's Descendants

Janet's family

Agata, Jim, Alicia, Janet, Laura, John, Stephen, Daniel, Genesis

Kenneth's family

Back row: Anitra, Tania, Nathan, Kenneth
Front row: Kaleb, Ben, Rebekah

Jonathan's family

Alan, Larisa, Lorraine, Neil, Julia, Jonathan, Ada, Zoe, Andrew

 

Family Reflections

 

Janet Herrick

Bob's daughter

My dad loved the written word.  When I was little – so little I can’t picture the process – he had an addition built onto our home in Orinda.  (We always called it “the addition,” even 20 years later) It consisted of a large workroom, which I believe was intended as a playroom because it had a ping pong/pool table in it, but my dad used it for his projects.  There was, as I recall, a work bench at the end of the room and I remember him framing pictures there. For some reason the number seven comes to mind when I think of how many projects my dad had going at one time. Anyway, beyond the workroom, through a door, was my dad’s study.  When I needed my dad, I looked for him there. The study consisted of three walls and a sliding glass door. Into the three walls my dad had built floor to ceiling shelves and every inch of space on these shelves was covered – with books. I don’t remember all that were there, but I do remember his intriguing collection of Great Books, his numerous novels including Charles Dickens, a large collection of C.S. Lewis books and George MacDonald books, (he had an MA in English, and taught English Literature at Las Lomas High School),  then Christian literature, books on World War II and other history books, travel books and many others. My dad’s love for books was contagious. He started me when pretty little on The Chronicles of Narnia which I read many times.  Whenever I wanted a new book to read I would go to him in his study and ask him for a recommendation.  He would look carefully over his library shelves, strategically remove a book and hand it to me with his description of the book and a brief biography of the author.  In the evenings he could be found by the fire in his favorite chair, sipping sherry, book in hand.  

 

My dad’s love for books and respect for the art of writing found expression as well in his love for the written Word, the Bible.  He loved the Bible, its variety of authors, writing genres and styles and its content. (He taught The Bible as Literature) And I think what he loved most of all about it was the gospel.  When I was four or five he and my mom and four other couples started a church, Valley Church of Moraga. With no pastor (a Brethren tradition) each of these men took turns preaching for a month at a time throughout the year.  I always enjoyed my dad’s preaching style – though he was maybe more of a teacher. I’m not sure why I did, but I think it was because I could tell he was excited to be coming in contact with Truth. I remember very vividly having a casual conversation with him one day in the dining room.  He told me that every book in the whole Bible pointed to Jesus Christ –I have thought about that many times. It struck me that even when not teaching or preaching he was ruminating on the gospel.

 

My dad continued to read, and continued to teach the Word of God throughout his life.  He taught Sunday School classes and preached while he and my mom were in Orinda, and then when they moved north to Sonoma and lived in Village Green he led a Bible study there.  He led that Bible study, writing all of his own questions until he absolutely could not any more, which I believe was at the age of 89 or 90. I am grateful today for the ways my dad inspired me through his many interests:  gardening, history, travel, do-it-yourself projects, cooking (his appreciation for it ☺), etc. I am most grateful, however, for his love for the written Word.

Books by Bob

 

Janet Herrick

Bob's daughter

My dad loved the written word.  When I was little – so little I can’t picture the process – he had an addition built onto our home in Orinda.  (We always called it “the addition,” even 20 years later)  It consisted of a large workroom/playroom where we played pool and pingpong and Dad worked on his projects.  There was, as I recall, a work bench at the end of the room and I remember him framing pictures there.  I remember he and Mom printing and preparing for mailing their 400+ Christmas cards there.  And I remember papers organized for the publishing of an uncle’s missionary biography. Beyond the workroom, through a door, was my dad’s study.  When I needed my dad, I looked for him there.  The study consisted of three walls and a sliding glass door.  Into the three walls my dad had built floor to ceiling shelves and every inch of space on these shelves was covered – with books.  I don’t remember all that were there, but I do remember his intriguing collection of Great Books, his numerous novels including Charles Dickens, a large collection of C.S. Lewis books and George MacDonald books, (he had an MA in English, and taught English Literature at Las Lomas High School), Christian literature, books on World War II and other history books, travel books and many others.

My dad’s love for books was contagious.  He started me when pretty little on The Chronicles of Narnia which I read many times.  Whenever I wanted a new book to read I would go to him in his study and ask him for a recommendation.  He would look carefully over his library shelves, respectfully remove a book and hand it to me with his description of the book and a brief biography of the author.  It felt like an honor to receive it.  In the evenings he could be found by the fire in his favorite chair, sipping sherry, book in hand.

My dad’s love for books and respect for the art of writing found expression as well in his love for the written Word, the Bible.  He loved the Bible, its variety of authors, writing genres and styles and its content.  (He taught The Bible as Literature)  And I think what he loved most of all about it was the gospel.  When I was four or five he and my mom and four other couples started a church, Valley Church of Moraga.  With no pastor (a Brethren tradition) each of these men took turns preaching for a month at a time throughout the year.  I always enjoyed my dad’s preaching style – though he was maybe more of a teacher.  I’m not sure why I did, but I think it was because I could tell he was excited to be coming in contact with Truth.  I remember very vividly having a casual conversation with him one day in the dining room.  He told me that every book in the whole Bible pointed to Jesus Christ –I have thought about that many times.  It struck me that even when not teaching or preaching he was ruminating on the gospel.

My dad continued to read, and continued to teach the Word of God throughout his life.  He taught Sunday School classes and preached while he and my mom were in Orinda, and then when they moved north to Sonoma and lived in Village Green he led a Bible study there.  He led that Bible study, writing all of his own questions until he absolutely could not anymore, which I believe was at the age of 89 or 90.  I am grateful today for the ways my dad inspired me through his many interests:  gardening, history, travel, do-it-yourself projects, cooking (his appreciation for it!), etc. I am most grateful, however, for his love for the written Word.

Tributes

 
 

©2020 by Andrew J. Baylis.