Robert Smoot Baldridge, 76, passed away Friday, August 28th, 2020, at his home in Woodway, Texas. Arrangements will be handled by Grace Gardens Funeral Home & Crematory. Honoring his request and due to the exigencies of COVID-19, there will be no formal service.
Bob was born March 4th, 1944, in Waco, Texas. He was the older child of Drury Columbus Baldridge and Callie Angelina Smoot. His youth was spent in Waco and Temple. He graduated from Temple High School in 1962.
His journey into academia began at Temple Jr. College and then progressed through Baylor University. He graduated with a B.S. in Biology in 1966. While at Baylor, Bob met his future wife, Cris Taylor, in a mythology class. He proposed in front of Judge Baylor's statue. They married on July 8th, 1967, and had 53 years together. Bob went on to graduate with a M.S. and Ph.D. in entomology from Kansas State University. His studies of leaf hoppers and army ants earned him the nickname “The Bug Man.”
Bob began his career as a college biology teacher at Schreiner College in Kerrville, Texas. After five years in the Hill Country, he accepted a position at Baylor University in 1978. Bob loved teaching and interacting with students and colleagues. He taught by the Socratic method of questioning and problem solving. Over the years, he received many letters from former students, who went on to medical or graduate school, thanking him for teaching them to think critically. During his 41 years as a Baylor professor, he helped his students learn to think on their feet. He was also a champion of Baylor faculty and academic causes, and was selected by his colleagues to serve on the Baylor Faculty Senate for several terms.
Problem solving was an important skill that Bob relied on again and again in his life. While doing his Ph.D. research at the Smithsonian research island in Panama, Bob was seriously injured in an accident in the jungle. He had to come home and recuperate for two months. This necessitated changing his whole research plan on ants, no small feat for a researcher. Somehow, he figured out a way to switch his research focus to study a similar army ant that lives in Central Texas. That led him and his wife Cris to have the adventure of living in a tent for a year and a half on a native Texas prairie owned by the Texas Nature Conservancy. There, he learned to persevere and to build apparatus necessary for his research.
Bob was a man who always put his family first. He was adored by his sister, Donna Kay. They shared years of memories and a great love for their parents. Every year, they would compete to find the funniest birthday cards, and delighted in their jokes. Bob had a great sense of humor and loved puns (a trait he passed down to his daughter). He doted on his daughter, Robyn, and his son, Ryan. Fishing at the lake was a favorite activity, and Bob loved to teach his kids how to MacGyver things that could be used to solve a problem. He was the best companion to have on a nature walk, and could identify any animal or plant when asked (a superpower, to his children). Every day before he dropped his kids off at school, he would say, “Learn lots! Have fun!” He always wanted his children to make the most of their time on this earth. Bob loved his wife, Cris, and always did his best to keep her and the rest of the family safe. Throughout his life, he cultivated and cherished many dear friendships, which were very important to him. He was a good and very ethical man, who wasn't afraid to stand up for what he thought was right. He will be greatly missed.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Drury Columbus Baldridge and Callie Angelina Baldridge.
He is survived by his wife, Cris Taylor Baldridge, his sister, Donna Kay Baldridge, his children, Robyn Baldridge Foster and husband Malcolm, and his son, Ryan Baldridge, all of Waco; family/cousins: Ray Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Ross Taylor, Doug and Betty Taylor, Ben and Susan Taylor, Stuart and Stephanie Gee, Gail Purks, Rebecca Gee, Jennifer Smith, Beth and Pat Musgrave, Jordan and Priscilla Musgrave, Taylor Musgrave, Travis Musgrave, Ruth Tilghman, and Halley Rae Taylor.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Caritas, or a charity of your choice.
To send flowers to Robert's family, please visit our floral store.