An Elegy for Debbie
by Alan C. Baird - January 6,
Debbie Baker and I sat next to each other in homeroom, and
engaged in wonderful, wide-ranging conversations each morning. During the course
of my high-school senior year, I slowly fell in love with her. I often told my good
friend, Jim: "If Debbie ever shows the slightest romantic interest in me, I'll be a
goner." I still have a snapshot of her, taken at one
of Jim's barbecues. And my heart still skips a beat whenever I look at that
picture... even now, three decades later.
We went on one date -- to
see the Harlem Globetrotters -- and it was a fiasco. I was hoping to
impress her with my father's old Triumph sports car, but the d*mn thing broke
down. Dad had been promising all week to perform a crucial maintenance on the
TR3, and he'd forgotten to do it. So I had to call my parents from thirty miles
away to pick us up, and I fumed all the way back. When we arrived at her house,
my mother leaned over from the front seat and urged me to walk her to the front
door, but I was so mad, I just sat there and pouted.
When May rolled
around, Jim and I began desperately seeking dates for the Senior Prom, and
finally identified two forgettable junior girls. A few days later, Debbie
admitted that she hadn't been asked, during one of our casual homeroom
conversations. SH*T!! I didn't want to renege on my promise to the other girl,
so I checked around, and finally convinced Bert, another buddy, to invite her.
In retrospect, I don't think I had to do much arm-twisting. Debbie was a
sweetheart, and any one of us would have been lucky to have her at his
Yes, a sad eMail just arrived: Debbie died on December 23,
"Elegy" [January 27, 2003]
was the unattainable golden girl, but she listened attentively to my teenage
angst, and could always be relied upon to lead the cheers at our
sporting events. During the spring cotillion, I desperately envied
the lucky teammate who was chosen to be her squire.
memories feel so fresh, and yet a certain number of years must have
slipped away unnoticed, because the jowly face in my bathroom mirror
is but a woeful caricature of its yearbook photo. And all that
remains of our sparkling Debbie are these sad waves of messages,
spreading the news that she's gone, she's really gone.
Diego Union-Tribune (January 14, 2003): A memorial service for Deborah A. Baker,
former communications director of the Girl Scouts San Diego-Imperial
Council, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Loma Riviera
Association clubhouse, 3115 Loma Riviera Drive, San Diego.
Ms. Baker, 51, died of cancer Dec. 23. She was honored last year
as "Public Relations Professional of the Year" by the San Diego
chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
The society had elected her to a one-year term of president to begin
The local Girl Scout community lost a dear member of
its family this past holiday season. Deborah Baker, Director of Communications
at Girl Scouts, San Diego-Imperial Council for the past eight
years, passed away on December 23, 2002 after a hard-fought
battle against cancer.
Baker was admired and loved by Girl Scout staff, volunteers
and parents for her creative ideas, inspiring leadership,
extraordinary instincts on contemporary girl issues, the Council
and the community, and for her witty sense of humor. She motivated
those around her to set their sights higher and be the best
they could be - and have fun, all the while. The standards
of excellence she set for herself and the Council resulted
in a highly acclaimed organization that is better positioned
to reach and serve girls.
of her groundbreaking work, Ms. Baker was also highly respected
by both the Girl Scouts of the USA and the public relations
community. GSUSA often looked to Ms. Baker's innovative projects
and campaigns as examples for the Girl Scout movement, and
her work is one of the reasons San Diego-Imperial Council
is considered among the nation's best.
peers in Public Relations regarded Ms. Baker as one of the
most gifted in the field. She was named San Diego's Public
Relations Professional of the Year in 2001-2002. She earned
12 Edward L Bernays Awards for Excellence in Public Relations
over the past five years, something in which she took great
Among the many accomplishments for which she was recognized
in 2001-2002 was the successful lease extension on the Balboa property.
Ms. Baker was instrumental in setting the course for the lease
extension, and her efforts will be a legacy to girls as they
enjoy the property and programs and Balboa Service Center
for the next 40 years. But the project for which she will
probably be most remembered is Operation Thin Mint. Ms. Baker
was the inspiration and creative force behind the community
service project that resulted in a "Mission Accomplished."
Over 113,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and thousands of
letters were successfully delivered to military personnel
deployed around the world. She considered the overwhelming
response from the Girl Scout community, residents of San Diego
and Imperial counties and the military as one of the greatest
rewards of her career.
Baker's tireless work on behalf of the girls throughout
San Diego and Imperial counties made a tremendous impact on the
girls, the Council and the community. She will be missed greatly
by all who knew her, and by the countless people whose lives
she touched. Goodbye, dear friend.
gift in Deb Baker's name can be made to Girl Scouts, San Diego-Imperial
Council, and an acknowledgement card will be sent to her parents,
Harry and Margaret Baker of Westfield, Mass. Condolences to
Deb's parents and her brother, Robert Baker of Syracuse, New York,
can be sent c/o Karen Cerveny at Girl Scouts.
Deborah A. Baker; creative PR director for Girl
By Jack Williams
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Deborah A. Baker took the concept "thinking outside the box"
to a new level as director of communications for the Girl Scouts
San Diego-Imperial Council.
a timely twist on the 2002 Girl Scout Cookie Sale, she devised Operation Thin
Mint to treat and comfort U.S. troops aboard. The plan gave cookie
buyers in San Diego and Imperial counties the option of sending the
boxes to military personnel, along with personal notes expressing their
"It resulted in an amazing 113,000-plus boxes of Girl Scout
cookies being sent to servicemen and women deployed around the world," said
Karen Cerveny, a communications specialist with the Girl Scouts
For Ms. Baker, it was an example of the kind of creative energy
that resulted in the "Public Relations Professional of the Year" award this year
from the San Diego chapter of the
Public Relations Society of
Diagnosed with cancer eight months ago, she died Monday at
UCSD Thornton Hospital. She was 51.
"She chose to work during
her treatment because she loved what she did so much," said Joice Truban-Curry,
incoming president of the Public Relations Society. "It gave her tremendous
satisfaction and it was a much-needed diversion."
Ms. Baker, who worked
until Dec. 19, became director of communications for the Girl Scouts
council in 1994. She previously served as a public information officer for the
South Bay Union School District, a post she assumed in the
"Those who worked with her say that she made them better,"
Cerveny said. "Her leadership, motivation and guidance made each person reach
further and become the absolute best they could be."
Ms. Baker's Operation
Thin Mint, named after a variety of cookie sold by the Girl Scouts, attracted
attention and inspired responses from the military
in the form of letters, mementos and photos.
Ms. Baker also was recognized for
spearheading a successful campaign to renew the Girl Scouts council's lease on
15 acres of Balboa Park land, which was approved by the City Council in
In April, she organized an innovative recognition
event for the Girl Scouts at which the "10 coolest women in San Diego"
Adding to her work load with Girl Scouts, Ms. Baker
volunteered as a media relations specialist for the American Red Cross and
served on the board of the Public Relations Society, which includes nearly
300 San Diego-area public relations professionals. The organization
recently elected her president for a one-year term to begin in
"Deborah wore a lot of hats," Truban-Curry said.
"She's leaving a huge void at the Girl Scouts council and in the
Ms. Baker, who lived in a Midway District
condominium with her cat, Bean, was born in Westfield, Mass.
She earned a
bachelor's degree in English at Mount Holyoke College in Hadley, Mass., and
a master's in broadcast journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston,
Before entering the public relations field, she worked in print
journalism at the Westfield Evening News and Manchester Journal Inquirer in
New England and as a television reporter in Toledo, Ohio.
include her parents, Harry and Margaret Baker of Westfield, Mass.; and brother,
Robert Baker of Syracuse.
Services are pending. Donations are suggested
to Heifer International, San Diego Friends of Rescued Animals or the
UCSD Cancer Center.
"Fire And Rain"
by James Taylor
Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote
down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to
I've seen fire
and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always
thought that I'd see you again
Won't you look down upon me,
You've got to help me make a stand
You've just got to see me
through another day
My body's aching and my time is at hand
won't make it any other way
Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought
that I'd see you again
Been walking my mind to an easy time my back
turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it'll turn
your head around
Well, there's hours of time on the telephone line to
talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on
Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny
days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could
not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you, baby, one more
time again, now
Thought I'd see you one more time again
just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I'd see you,
thought I'd see you fire and rain, now