Longtime Georgia deputy dies 10 months after stage 4 cancer diagnosis

Billy Baker was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer and was told that he had three months to live.

Credit: Troup County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Troup County Sheriff's Office

In June 2019, Troup County Deputy Billy Baker was given the news that he had just three months to live due to stage 4 esophageal cancer.

Baker, who had served Troup County as a firefighter, police officer and sheriff’s deputy for more than 35 years, told AJC.com shortly after the bleak prognosis that he was going to “fight as hard” as he could.

That willpower, the support of his community and the encouragement of his wife — who was in remission from her own bout with cancer — led him to battle the disease for the rest of 2019 and into this year.

That fight ended overnight Tuesday when the veteran law enforcement officer died.

MORE: Stage 4 cancer strikes Georgia deputy after his wife goes into remission

Since they got married in 2016, Misty and Billy Baker have both been diagnosed with cancer. Misty has been cancer-free for nearly two years, but Billy's battling stage 4 esophageal cancer.

Credit: Courtesy of Billy Baker

Credit: Courtesy of Billy Baker

“We are saddened this morning to announce the passing of one of our friends,” the sheriff’s office said in a Wednesday news release. “We send our love and prayers to Billy’s wife Misty, his children and family. He fought the hard fight and will be missed by all.”

Baker worked for the Troup County Fire Department in the early 1980s before beginning his law enforcement career in 1985 as a reserve officer with the Enterprise (Ala.) Police Department. That same year, he began working with the LaGrange Police Department, where he stayed until 1998.

He took a seven-year break to work at his family’s grocery store business in Heard County before joining the Grantville Police Department in 2005. During that time, he received a medal of valor for his assistance with a kidnapping victim.

In 2014, he joined the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked until he retired earlier this year.

During his time in Troup County, Baker married his wife — two weeks before a 17-pound malignant tumor was discovered in her ovaries.

Misty Baker has been cancer-free for nearly two years.

Credit: Courtesy of Billy Baker

Credit: Courtesy of Billy Baker

She was diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer, which led to several rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy due to a heightened risk of breast cancer. That effort paid off and she was declared cancer-free about two years before her husband’s diagnosis.

Billy Baker said he began to feel sick during a traffic stop, and when he went to the emergency room days later, doctors discovered two cancerous masses.

“The majority of our marriage has been one of us dealing with cancer,” he said. “It’s an emotional beatdown.”

The situation compelled the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club and Jackson Services in LaGrange to host a fundraiser in August for the Bakers. Several hundred people rushed to help him, raising more than $24,000 in the process, according to the sheriff’s office.

This is a flyer for the fundraiser that is being hosted to help Billy Baker and his family in August.

Credit: Troup County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Troup County Sheriff's Office

“(Being a deputy) made it easier for me to swallow this pill,” Baker said. “My job helped prepare me to have to fight this. I’m grateful for that.”

A private burial service will be held. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a memorial service will be announced at a later date when large gatherings are permitted.

We are saddened this morning to announce the passing of one of our friends. Former Deputy Billy Baker passed away...

Posted by Troup County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, April 8, 2020