History of Our Funeral Home

Our Family Serving Your Family Since 1885

History. Tradition. Heritage. These are values that we, R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home & Crematory, pride ourselves in while serving families of Suffolk, Wakefield, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, and surrounding localities. With three locations to serve the families closer to their home.

Robert Washington Baker started R.W. Baker & Co. Furniture Dealers and Undertakers in downtown Suffolk in 1885, and Robert N. Baker IV (Blake) and his wife, Kelly, along with his father, Robert N. Baker, III operate it. Blake is a fifth generation funeral director.

The Suffolk location of R.W. Baker & Co Funeral Home and Crematory is conveniently located in the historic downtown area of the city. Primarily serving families from Suffolk, Isle of Wight and North Carolina, this facility was remodeled in 1999 adding a new chapel, viewing rooms, family room, kids play room and a crematory was added. The massive renovation allowed us to better serve our families with a modern facility and a larger parking lot. This stately building has been the home of the funeral home since 1941 when Robert N. Baker, Jr. purchased the home.

This location also has small meeting house on the back of the property called the Constancia House. This home originally stood in Cedar Hill Cemetery, but in 1994 Robert N. Baker III organized, with the help of family and friends, and deconstructed the house, moved it into the backyard of the funeral home piece by piece. Currently the building is used by different civic, church, and volunteer organizations as a meeting place. It is also used as a reception hall after funerals.

On July 24, 2012, originally Purviance Funeral Home, located in Wakefield, VA, was purchased by the Baker family. Our staff is making sure that we provide family to family service that families have relied on for many generations from the Baker and Purviance families. We are very proud to have the Wakefield Chapel as part of our family. This location has been a great addition to our family funeral home. It has allowed us to provide the families of Wakefield, Ivor, Waverly, Dendron, Surry, Sussex and surrounding areas a funeral home to serve their home town values.

This location is home to Wakefield Monument Company. We are able to provide families with granite, marble, bronze monuments and markers. We are also able to engrave dates of death in a cemetery. We service all of our funeral homes from this location with monuments, however a monument may be purchased from any of our funeral homes.

In 1992, the Baker family, joined with B.W. Foster Funeral Home in Portsmouth to build Baker-Foster Funeral Home to serve the fast growing Northern Suffolk, Chesapeake and Portsmouth areas. The 11,000 square foot building has a large chapel, multiple large viewing rooms and large reception room. This facility is our largest and most user friendly funeral home. Conveniently located between Route 17 and Bennett’s Pasture Road, at 5685 Lee Farm Lane, Suffolk VA, 23435. The Foster's family business began in Portsmouth in 1896 as Flynn & O'Connor Funeral Home, which was acquired by the Fosters in 1936. B.W. Foster Funeral Home is currently operated by Brian P. Foster. In August of 2017 the joint ownership was dissolved and the Baker Family is now the sole owners of Baker-Foster Funeral Home.

Baker-Foster Funeral Home also is home to Nansemond Pet Cremations Services. Visit www.nansemondpetcremation.com for more information.

Our Officers

R.W. Baker

R.W. Baker, Founder
1885 - 1928

Since 1885, R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home has been a business run by a direct descendant of Robert Washington Baker. He started the business when it encompassed both made-to-order coffins and a furniture store.

R.N. Baker, Sr.

R.N. Baker, Sr.
1928 - 1940

R.N. Baker, Sr., operated the business from 1928 to 1940. His son, R.N. Baker, Jr. attended Virginia Military Institute and received a degree from the School of Engineering. He took over from 1940 until his death in 1967.

R.N. Baker, Jr.

R.N. Baker, Jr.
1940 - 1967

Built in 1910, the stately John King home at 509 W. Washington Street was sold to R.W. Baker and Co. by Miss Zaidee V. Crump in 1942. After making extensive improvements and repairs, R.N. "Bob" Baker and wife, Allie, began a new era of community service when they opened the doors to the new location of R.W. Baker & Co Funeral Home.

Allie Oliver Baker

Allie Oliver Baker
1967 - 1969

 

Robert N. Baker III, the current President, and his mother, Allie Oliver Baker, then ran the business together from 1967-1969. Allie was one of the few women in the state who had a funeral director's license at that time.

Roberta B. Powell

Roberta B. Powell
1969 - 2009

Roberta Baker Powell joined the family business in 1969. The second daughter of Bob and Allie, she graduated from the Medical College of Virginia, now known as VCU, from the School of E-ray Technology. After working at Obici Hospital for a number of years, she became the office manager of this family business until her retirement in 2009. She is still active on an as-needed basis at the funeral home when she is not traveling or enjoying retirement.