Whitney M. Baker
March 26, 1985 — May 7, 2020
“Sometimes it takes more faith when there is no miracle.”
SPOKANE–Former Waitsburg resident Whitney Marie Baker, 35, of Spokane Valley, died May 7, 2020, at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
She was born March 26, 1985, in Walla Walla, to Loyal and Kathy (Berry) Baker. Her first days involved hospitalization at Children’s Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle due to medical complications following her birth. She was later diagnosed with a deletion and duplication of chromosome 22q, and genetic specialists predicted she would not live to one year of age.
Her medically fragile condition resulted in frequent illnesses, doctor appointments and late-night visits to the emergency room to battle pneumonia, ear infections and RSV. She was later diagnosed with severe reflux. In addition to those medical struggles, her chromosome rearrangement caused her profound mental and physical handicaps.
At age 2½, her parents placed her at St. Anne’s Children’s Home in Spokane where she received excellent around-the-clock care from nurses, with in-house physical and occupational therapy. She became roommates with Kelly Higgins, with whom she shared life for the next 27½ years.
While at St. Anne’s, Whitney was often called upon to appear in television news segments and in other promotional, fund-raising efforts for St. Anne’s and Catholic Charities. She was subject of a front-page feature story in the Spokesman-Review which told of the great love caregivers and staff of St. Anne’s showed to her and to her family.
St. Anne’s closed in 1994 and Whitney and several of the children moved to a group home in the Spokane Valley. After living in a succession of residential settings, the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) of Spokane established the Valley ARC where Whitney and five of her friends from St. Anne’s set up housekeeping.
Her parents continued their involvement in her life through the years, advocating for her and being her voice–and as a voice for disabled people–challenging D.S.H.S decisions with litigation–and winning–and in testimony before legislators.
Whitney’s longevity was because of the love her parents and brothers, Matthew and Morgan, and because of the dedicated loving care she received from a long line of care givers, therapists, nurses, doctors, administrators and her life-long friend and roommate Kelly.
Whitney was an honorary member of the Waitsburg High School Class of 2003. She was a member of Chapter BE, P.E.O., Waitsburg.
She is survived by her mother, Kathy Atkinson and stepfather Jim of Post Falls, ID; father, Loyal Baker and stepmother Charlotte of Spokane and Dayton; brother, Matthew Baker and sister-in-law Corinne of Loveland, Colo.; brother, Morgan Baker and girlfriend Carina Wedel of Spokane; nephews, Drayson and Graham Baker of Loveland. Colo.; stepsister, Ashleigh Atkinson-McNabb (Bob) of Ireland; stepsister, Emily Atkinson of Carlisle, Penn.; stepsister, Tessa Stewart of Spokane; stepbrother, Christopher (Monica) of Spokane Valley; stepbrother, Matthew Truesdale (Juanita) of Spokane Valley; stepsister, Jennifer Sparks (Chris) of Richlands, N.C.; grandmother, Joan (Berry) Summers; and step-grandfather, Larry of Walla Walla; grandmother, Anita Baker of Waitsburg; grandparents, Ron and Peggy Brookshire of Walla Walla; aunt, Colleen Berry of Glenwood Springs, Colo.; uncle and aunt, Kevin (Debbie) of Hobart, Wash.; uncle and aunt, Charles (Patty) Baker of Quilcene, Wash.; aunt and uncle, Peggy (Randy) Mudd of Pasco, Wash.; first cousins, Tom (Nicole) Baker of Moscow, Id., Molly Baker-Hendrickson of Sequim, Wash. Daniel (Hannah) Baker of Moscow, Emilie Baker (Jake Scott) of Port Townsend, Wash., and Anthony (Dannielle) Henry of Richland, Wash.; and numerous nieces, nephews and second cousins.
Whitney was preceded in death by her grandfather, Theodore “Ted” E. Berry (1988); and grandfather, Thomas “Tom” C. Baker (2016). Many of her former housemates from St. Anne’s and Valley ARC also preceded her in death: Kelly, Gabe, Brynn, Jesse, and Keith. A memorial will be set and announced at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to ARC of Spokane, 320 E. 2nd Ave., Spokane, WA 99202; Joya Child and Family Development, 2118 W. Garland Ave., Spokane, WA 99205; Ted Berry Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Blue Mountain Community Foundation, P.O. Box 603, 22 E. Poplar St., Suite 206, Walla Walla, WA 99362; the Baker Mudd Nursing Scholarship Fund, also through the Blue Mountain Community Foundation; or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Arrangements are under the care of Herring-Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder, Walla Walla, WA 99362.