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Baier Returns to Complete Unfinished Story

New Cambridge High School Principal Bob Baier, like WWE wrestler Cody Rhodes, has an unfinished story to complete. But unlike the pro wrestler’s story line, the end of Baier’s story will be written and directed by a higher power. 

Mr. Baier welcomes 8th graders to the High School during the annual Middle School promotion ceremony in May.  Baier served as Cambridge High School principal for about six months in 2017 taking over mid-schoolyear for Peg Wilcox. He agreed to continue as principal, signing a three-year contract, but never got the chance to fulfill that agreement. 

“When I took over for Peg, I felt like we had a lot of positive things happening at Cambridge High School and we were going in a positive direction,” Baier said. “We had a plan for the future mapped out and then ‘BOOM’ I was pulled out of that role and didn’t get to see if it happened.” 

Baier’s story was interrupted when he suffered a pancreatitis attack that sent him to hospital in Zanesville and then on to the Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. In addition to being diagnosed with the worst kind of pancreatitis you can have, Baier got sepsis, an infection in his blood. 

At that point, the chance of survival for Baier was less than 10 percent. On June 25th, he coded and had to be brought back to life by the medical staff. It was one of three times during an eight-month period that Baier or his family was told he was going to die. 

“Everything was shutting down, my temperature was 106 degrees, and I knew it wasn’t good,” Baier said. “It was a very small room and there were medical people everywhere working on me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my wife, Kathie. She was crying. We made eye contact and I thought, ‘this might be it.’ “

But it was not his time to go. Baier lived and the doctors tried to figure out how to treat him since they never had anyone in that condition survive. 

During the next several months, Baier hung on taking 3,200 milligrams of antibiotics daily through his peripherally inserted central catheter or PICC line. His weight fluctuated from 270 to 175 depending on the medicine he was on and how it affected his appetite. 

Then came February 18, 2018. Baier was in the hospital expecting surgery to remove pockets of infection that were produced by his pancreas. When the surgeon came into his room, he told Baier that he was not going to have surgery. 

“He said, ‘I can’t do the surgery, it’s too delicate,’“ Baier shared. “‘If I make a mistake and hit any of those pockets, you are going to be dead. I’m not willing to take that risk.’ “ 

Baier jokingly asked if he should just be planning his funeral, and the surgeon said, “yes.” 

“He was serious,” Baier said. “He said he would treat me with antibiotic the rest of my life, but I was just going to get sicker.” 
That day, after the surgeon left, a spot on Baier’s side where tubes had been inserted to drain infection and later removed, became inflamed. 

Mr. Baier recovers in the hospital in 2017. “This spot started to get red and redder and redder,” Baier explained. “Then it developed a pimple and then the head of the pimple got bigger. Almost exactly 12 hours after the doctor told me I was going to die and left the room, that thing (pimple) burst, and the infection started shooting out.” 

The nurse on duty scooped up a sample to send to the lab and called the surgeon. 

“The surgeon came back into my room and said, ‘hey, we’re prepping you for surgery. I’m going to fix you.’” 

“I said, ‘what do you mean you’re going to fix me? You just told me I was going to die,’“ Baier recalled. “He said, ‘God just provided for you. That is a canal. I couldn’t see it clearly before, but I can now. I am going to go right down where the infection came out and suck all the infection out of you, fill you with antibiotics and you’re going to be fine.’ “ 

Over the next couple of months, Baier endured several more CT scans, 27 in all, and turned his wife into a nurse taking care of his wound. On October 18, his doctor called and said, “The infection is gone. All the infection is gone. Every pocket is gone.”

It wasn’t long until Baier returned to work first as the transportation director at East Muskingum Schools, a brief stint selling cars, and then, in 2022, he returned to Cambridge City Schools as the assistant principal at the Middle School.

Now Baier gets an opportunity to complete the unfinished story as he returns as principal at Cambridge High School. 
“My son kidded me about this saying I was like Cody Rhodes and that I had an unfinished story,” Baier said. “I do feel like I have an unfinished story at the High School. 

“It’s weird,” Baier continued. “I am a man of faith and in the Bible seven is a popular number. It has been seven years since that (the pancreatitis attack) happened. So we’re seven years removed, and I am going back into the position I left. I never thought this opportunity would come again, but I didn’t get to leave on my terms and now I’m getting the opportunity to do it again.” 

Superintendent Dan Coffman is happy to provide that opportunity to Baier and is confident that he will lead the High School in the right direction. 

“Bob is a man of great integrity and has a distinguished 40-year career in education,” Coffman said. “Due to Bob’s health, we missed an opportunity to have him at the High School seven years ago, but now we have the chance to bring him into this role and let him lead our High School. I believe the school, teachers, staff, and students will benefit from his leadership.” 

Baier was recommended to the board at the May 21st special meeting of the board of education and hired. 

“I know this is where I’m supposed to be and I am excited about it,” Baier said. “Is it going to be hard? Yes. Things have changed in seven years. Kids have changed. Society has changed. But my passion for kids hasn’t changed and my ability to build relationships with kids hasn’t changed. As long as I feel like I can do that, I will.”

In addition to Baier, the High School will also have a new assistant principal and athletic director, a new dean of students, a new academic support specialist, and will have to replace 36-year veteran secretary Linda Bontrager. 

“I’m just a piece of the puzzle,” Baier said. “We are going to take a building that already has a good foundation and move it forward. It will be very clear to everybody what I expect.”

Baier and his wife, Kathie, hang out with their five grandchildren. Baier, as always will be supported by his wife Kathie, along with his son Robbie who works for Pittsburgh Public Schools, and daughter Stacey who works at the Area Agency on Aging, and their families which includes five grandchildren between the ages of three and 13. 

Baier also preaches at East Union Presbyterian Church where he has grown the attendance from seven to 55. 

“In every aspect of my life, I am blessed far beyond what I deserve,” Baier said. “I’m preaching every Sunday at this little country church that I love preaching at. It feeds another part of my life that I need. It keeps me balanced.

“People try to point to me for doing things,” Baier continued. “I will tell you always, that it is not me. I just do what I believe God has called me to do. I try to show His love in everything I say and do.”

And that is how the conclusion to this unfinished story will be written.  

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