GRAND RAPIDS — Penelope Joy Baker, born Sept. 9, 2013, died peacefully Oct. 17, 2013, in her parents’ arms after fighting hard against numerous birth defects, including several defects of her heart and severe immunodeficiency due to Complete DiGeorge Syndrome with CHARGE Association.
Penelope “Pickle” exhibited the spirit of a true warrior as she fought to survive open-heart surgery, surgery to correct bilateral choanal atresia and several severe infections. She became known in the hospital as a “robust” fighter who had her own opinions about what she liked and didn’t like — and she let everyone know it. In her too-short life, Penelope brought people together from around the world as they followed her while she fought hard against one health crisis after another. She was the source of much inspiration as she faced each problem with strength that many people much older than she was would not be able to muster. Penelope was the source of much joy and laughter as she repeatedly exhibited her feisty personality as a stubborn fighter throughout her time in the hospital. She was known for her “stink eye” that told everyone exactly what she was thinking. She also had stellar taste in cute hats. Most importantly, Penelope was the light and true love of her parents’ lives. From the time they found out about being pregnant through the last night of Penelope’s life, they cherished their family time as they read Penelope a bedtime story every night. While they didn’t have much time with her, Penelope’s parents were forever changed by their daughter who taught them the truth about life, strength and the power of love. Penelope’s story continues to be written because it lives on in the lives of all of her family, friends and supporters.
Penelope is survived by her parents, Kimi (Warren) and Bobby Baker of Grand Rapids; grandparents, Wendy and Gary Warren of Traverse City; grandparents, Barbara and Robert Baker of Lawton; aunts and uncles, Tammi and Werner Steyn, Jen Baker, Clint Warren and Debbie Wert, Charity and Mark Sawyer, Toni Warren and Rick Bergey, Tanya and Jeremiah Warren, and JJ Warren. She also is survived by great-grandmother Jean Warren; numerous great-aunts and -uncles, many cousins and countless friends, family and supporters who followed her journey through The Pickle Chronicle (http://facebook.com/thepicklechronicle).
Penelope was blessed to be in the hands of an amazing team of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and the rest of the caring staff at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, who became family during Penelope’s time at the hospital.
A celebration of Penelope’s life will be held at 11 a.m. today, Oct. 23, at Park Church at 10 E. Park Place NE in Grand Rapids. Those wishing to make a donation in Penelope’s name may do so to Mended Little Hearts of West Michigan, P.O. Box 223, Alto, MI 49302; or Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
The family is being served by Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home, Grand Rapids (616)-940-7333.