By Laura McAlister
Schuyler Allen Baker Jr. admits it – he could get used to being king.
It’s been only a couple of weeks since the Beaux Arts Krewe announced that the
Brook resident would reign over the 44th annual Krewe Ball, held March 4. But during the days leading up to the event, Baker was actually starting to like the sound of being called “king,” he said.
“I think I’m starting to get used to it,” he said with a laugh. “Folks around here have been calling me ‘your majesty’ and bowing. I’ve even told a few I’d make them a duke and carve out a little part of Birmingham for them.”
Being king should come easy for someone like Allen. Royalty does run in his family, at least when it comes to the Krewe.
Allen, a lawyer with Balch & Bingham, LLC, isn’t the first in his family to reign over the Beaux Arts Krewe Ball. His daughter Sally was queen of the Krewe in 2005 with king Mike Goodrich. In fact, Allen’s family has long been a part of the ball, held every year at Boutwell Auditorium.
The Beaux Arts Krewe Ball is a Mardi Gras-style debutante ball complete with a queen and a king as well as princesses, pages, ladies-in-waiting, dukes and more. Proceeds from the ball benefit the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Allen said he was “tickled to death” to reign over this year’s ball. The honor came as a complete surprise, he said.
“They tricked me,” he said of members of the Krewe. “They called me to a meeting on the pretense of talking about something connected to the auditorium committee.
“Being a lawyer, I’m in charge of the lease. They kept asking questions, and I was wondering why they were asking me the same things they did two weeks ago.”
Apparently, Krewe members were just making sure he could handle “both duties,” Allen said. “I didn’t know what they were talking about. I had my taste of being in the spotlight in 2005 when Sally was the queen, but I never thought in a million years they would ask me to serve as king.”
For Allen, the most exciting part of the night was getting to have all of his family together.
He and his wife Patty have four children; only son Brad and wife Sally live in Birmingham. Will and wife Susannah are in Washington, D.C., and Mike and wife Laura are in Chapel Hill, N.C. Their daughter Sally is in Washington, D.C., as well.
The Bakers also have four grandchildren – Maggie, Allen, Kathryn and Wilson.
Allen joined the Krewe in 1991, and all his children have participated in the balls in some capacity.
“All my children were in it as little bitty pages and trainbearers, and now the grandkids are doing it,” he said. “That’s really one of the greatest things about the Krewe Ball; it’s a great family night. It’s a generational thing.”
Family time is one of Allen’s greatest enjoyments.
While his day job – he’s been a civil litigation lawyer at Balch & Bingham for 38 years and serves as general council there – takes up much of his time, Allen does enjoy taking the family to their home on Lake Martin. It’s where his children spent much of their summers.
Now, it’s how Allen lures them back to the state. Well, that and Alabama football.
Speaking of sports, Allen is an avid fan of most all of them. He loves playing golf with his friends, and for those who don’t know him as king, many think of him as coach.
“I spent a whole lot of time in the ’80s and ’90s coaching my kids’ teams,” he said. “So many of the young professionals in Birmingham are kids I coached. That’s one of my favorite legacies.”
Coaching isn’t the only way Allen has given back to the community. He works with several charities, including the United Way and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Alabama. Allen knows firsthand the importance of the latter’s work.
“I had lymphoma back in 2003 and spent a lot of time getting cured for that,” he said. “I went to Nebraska to receive a bone marrow treatment. I was gone a long time and then went through other treatments here.
“I learned quickly how important that organization is and what a difference donations to cancer research make.”
Allen also is a supporter of the Birmingham Museum of Art through the Krewe. Since joining the Krewe, he has served as captain, president and board member.
Now he can add king to that list. But he knows his reign will be short-lived.
“Come Sunday after the ball, it’ll be back to carrying out the garbage and feeding the dogs,” he said. “That’s what I do.”