Baker Sisters Unite to Write Former UCO Professor’s Biography
Addison Baker, left, and Emilia Baker pose in front of Old North at the University of Central Oklahoma on Feb. 6, 2017. The sisters are currently writing a biography over former UCO professor and WWII survivor Dr. Hall Duncan. (Kateleigh Mills/ The Vista).
Sisters Addison Baker and Emilia Baker are not only best friends, but also co-authors of an upcoming biography titled “Give Them My Love” about one of UCO’s living treasures, Dr. Hall Duncan.
Addison Baker, 19, is a UCO sophomore majoring in English with a minor in Religion and Leadership. Addison first met Dr. Duncan at the beginning of the fall 2016 semester by being involved in the President’s Leadership Council (PLC).
“I went to talk to a friend in PLC about my love for writing and my love for mission work and sharing the gospel. He said, ‘You have to meet this guy. His name is Hall. He wants a biography written about him and he is looking for someone and I think you’d be perfect,'” Addison said.
After an interview with Addison, Duncan, 93, asked if she would be interested in writing his biography. Addison, who was the initial author of the project, said that she knew immediately she wanted to do it. She said she was inspired by Duncan’s 10 years of missionary work in Africa.
“What he has done in his life is something that I hope to mirror,” Addison said.
Addison said that her career goal would be working as a missionary in a third world country, teaching English and sharing the gospel to children.
Addison also said that it was important to her to have her parents’ blessing to write his biography. She said that her parents told her to weigh the pros and cons of taking on the project, since Addison and Emilia are both full-time students who already had full-time jobs.
Emilia Baker, 21, joined in on the project with her sister last December, initially to help her with small tasks and deadlines, but later on became the co-author. Emilia is a student at Oklahoma City Community College and is currently taking general engineering courses. She already has an Associate of Art degree, but intends to go on to graduate school.
“I’ve always been really interested in art and I love to write as well. Immediately Hall struck me as a really nice person and I like to spend time around really nice people,” Emilia said. “I wanted to help tell his story.”
The sisters are planning on using a sort of loose chronological order of writing, while also incorporating flashbacks and lessons that Duncan learned through various significant moments in his life. They also plan to share letters Duncan wrote to his father during the war and some of his journal entries to give a more personal touch to the biography.
They are also still looking for a publisher that has a good relationship with UCO, because of Duncan’s career as a professor teaching cartooning and advertising design for 17 years.
“We touch on his career at UCO and we want to write for people here, but we also want to write for everyone who could have an impact from his story,” Addison said.
The pair meet with Duncan weekly to talk about his life as a WWII survivor, his missionary work, his travels and other parts of his life.
The co-authors are now to the point of showing Duncan drafts that he can look at and approve. Duncan also gave the Baker sisters the full creative rights and any proceeds from the biography as a chance to jumpstart their careers.
Since working together, the sisters say that they have learned a lot about working as a team, meeting deadlines, bouncing ideas off of each other, becoming more in touch with their faith and becoming more confident artists.
“I think as far as our relationship goes, it has strengthened our relationship as sisters,” Addison said. “Sometimes people say ‘don’t work with family’ and I think that is completely false.”
Addison and Emilia also both agreed that they would definitely consider writing something else together, even if it isn’t a biography.
“We offset each other in a way that is really helpful,” Emilia said. “She has, like, three different planners for everything. She is very organized, but sometimes she can get too wound up. I kind of help relax her and she kind of helps keep me focused.”
Addison who describes herself as extremely extroverted and goal-oriented, and Emilia who describes herself as more introverted and observational, have learned to bring out each other’s strengths.
“Emilia has always been someone that I could go to about life advice,” Addison said. “She has a very good intuition about people. She is always there to listen… She has just always been a really creative person and has pushed that on me in a good way, to be more creative.”
The sisters said that they are happy that they can lead by example for their two younger siblings. The sisters both said that their family has been a strong support system in the process as well.
The co-authors also plan to make a donation to UCO by cataloging all of the documents and research that they have collected for the biography as another way to keep Duncan’s accomplishments available to the public for many years to come.