As soon as we got into the black Suburban, we knew this was going to be a different kind of tour of Houston. Even in his late 80s, Jim Baker was leaving nothing to chance. The storied former secretary of state had promised to show us the landmarks of his past, the home where he grew up, the country club where he partnered with a scrappy doubles player named George H. W. Bush, and the imposing Victorian mansion where his legendary grandfather, Captain Baker, ruled over his extended clan and many of the city’s early-20th-century institutions.
On his yellow legal pad, Baker had carefully sketched out the route in advance. In fact, it quickly became apparent, Baker had already driven the route to prepare for our visit and was now fussing over the order of our stops to make sure it was just right. Baker had long lectured his eight children and legions of staffers about what he called the “five P’s”: Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. By the time we finished the day at the family gravesite, where he showed us the spot he planned to occupy for eternity, it was clear that Baker had lived what he preached.