“I couldn’t take my eyes off Kitty the first time I ever saw her. And I still, after 69 years of marriage, can’t take my eyes off her. Our wedding was the beginning of a magnificent love affair.”
Jim Baker and Kitty Morrison have a true fairy tale love story. They met in 8th grade in Kokomo, and after Jim first saw Kitty, he never had eyes for anyone else. They were high school sweethearts, both graduating from Kokomo High School in 1944. After high school, Kitty went to Indiana University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1948. Jim served in the Navy for two years and graduated from IU in 1949. Jim and Kitty were married Feb. 11, 1950.
The pair went on to start a beautiful family, raising their children Debby, Kathy and Bill (deceased) in the Indianapolis area – Kitty a homemaker and dedicated mother, and Jim a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual for more than 60 years. The two shared a remarkably active lifestyle and dedicated much of their lives to cultural endeavors. They both served on the board of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and had season tickets for more than 50 years. The Bakers have been longstanding season ticket holders for IU football and basketball and have been very active members of the Meridian Street Methodist Church. They also traveled internationally, taking many trips to experience different cultures and destinations, which has been an absolute highlight of their life together.
Jim remembers the unusually warm weather on their winter wedding day. Although quite some time has passed, the loveliness of that day – and especially of Kitty – has not been lost. For Jim, seeing this beautiful photograph again brought back wonderful memories. He says it is an honor for it to be included in One Family’s Lens: The Photography of the Bretzman Studio at the History Center – the feeling is mutual – and it has brought him and his daughter Debby tremendous joy. At this stage in his life, it’s not always easy for Jim to find happiness. For the past 15 years, he has lovingly and generously devoted his time and energy to taking care of Kitty, who has Alzheimer’s disease. She is in a memory care facility and, due to the advancement of the disease, is just a shadow of the vibrant woman that she once was.
The portrait and the exhibit have been a way for Jim to reminisce and share his wonderful memories with Debby, who has loved hearing her father talk about her parents’ lives. More importantly, Debby has treasured seeing Jim’s spirits lift. The portrait, and by extension the exhibit, are a reminder to Jim of how beautiful Kitty is and how devoted they have always been to one another.
One Family’s Lens: The Photography of the Bretzman Studio is open at the History Center through Nov. 2.
Presented by Marianne Williams Tobias with support from the Emerson B. and Jane H. Houck Endowment for Hoosier Photography