Uni degree a tribute to great dad
By JENNIE DELL
IF John 'Scott' Baker of Kyogle had lived, he would have picked up his Degree in Social Sciences in person from Southern Cross University last month.
Instead, his broken-hearted partner Kim McDonough and seven-year old daughter Caillan last month accepted it on his behalf.
If Scott had lived, he would have used his degree to pursue his ambition to become a policy-maker for the Australian Labor Party.
But Scott, 34, died tragically in August last year when his car collided with a truck in the rain on a notorious blind bend on the Summerland Way at Grevillia, north of Kyogle, on his way to work at the Urbenville timber mill to earn money to support his family.
Scott had always wanted to go to university. An adopted child, he had gone through a variety of jobs after leaving school.
After being made redundant from the aircraft manufacturer Boeing's purchasing department in Brisbane, he enrolled at SCU and he and Kim moved to Kyogle, with Kim's daughter Brennah Anderson and Caillan.
He was secretary of the Kyogle branch of the ALP for a while before his death.
"Scott was the most wonderful father to both the children," Kim said yesterday as she sat among boxes and packing cases in her Kyogle home.
After Scott's death the family moved out of the house where they had lived with him, into a rented house.
Now they have bought their own Kyogle home and are going to put their things in storage and live with Kim's dad for a few weeks until the new house is ready.
"Scott had a passion for politics ? he lived and breathed political theory, and read everything he could get his hands on," Kim said.
"He was gentle, so gentle, and intelligent and passionate about things he believed in, like workers' rights, unionism ? he was disgusted when Student Unions were abolished at Australian universities.
"But he was always respectful of other people's opinions. "He always looked for the good in everyone."
Since losing Scott, Kim has kept his spirit alive in the two little girls who adored him, encouraging them to talk about their feelings and about him.
"Although this terrible thing has happened, we can still find ways to be happy," Kim said.
"It's really important to me, and would have been to Scott, that the girls get through this in a healthy way. "I believe we have to feel our feelings at this time. I've had anti-depressants offered to me, but I won't take them because I have to feel this, or I'll never get through it.
"Scott believed that when you die, that's it ? but I think he believes something different now.
"I wish I could ring him up and ask him things, and tell him things.
"And I know that next to his kids, studying and getting his degree was the most important thing in the world to him."