Shelley Lynne Baker     1960 – 2007
Please see attached picture of Shelley…it is magnificent as was she
My dear friend, Shelley, took her last breath on May 18th, and left her body behind as her soul took flight.  The gymnastics community, nationwide, has sustained a great loss.  Shelley was the owner and coach of Madera Gymnastics in Madera, California for 13 years; a Level 10 judge, and a recently retired Sports Acro Competitor.
Shelley was one of the most dedicated, loyal and committed gymnastic professionals I’ve ever known.  She held a special reverence for each gymnast whom she taught and coached with caring maternal instincts.  She was a master coach on bars, vault and tumbling…and not a bad choreographer either!  Her understanding of biomechanics of movement was remarkable.  Shelley respected nearly every coach, judge and gymnast she ever worked with and loved gymnastics
with a passion that couldn’t be measured.
Shelley loved and adored her younger brother, Sean, and maintained a wonderful close loving relationship with her mother, Sandi, both now living in Walnut Creek, CA.  Shelley loved her family very much, though with her hectic gymnastics schedule, didn’t get the chance to see them as often as she would have preferred. Yet, that is not all Shelley loved…she loved her dogs, Mekkie and Magic, and all dogs in general; and loved her two horses as well. Sean now has her two dogs who enjoy playing with his dog, and his mother’s two dogs!  (yes, that’s 5 dogs now on the Baker homestead)  Shelley always needed to be near animals and was able to sense what they needed and possessed the ability to communicate with them through her intuition.
She and I would marvel over sharing a terrific bottle of red wine, enjoy a stimulating discussion on politics and our country’s military forces;  and we would relax at the Monterey Aquarium watching the jelly fish gracefully float, as our minds were lulled away to topics of extra terrestrial life.  Shopping at Chico’s and at jewelry stores would entertain us for hours!  I already miss her raspy, monotone, drone of a voice which could go on and on speaking about any topic at all…she had a sweet way of rambling on which I found endearing.
Living a modest, simple and humble life many of you may not know that Shelley’s IQ was nearly off the chart, she was so extremely intelligent, yet unpretentious.  Shelley also served in the military as a Naval Intelligence Officer, a decoder with top secret clearance.  She had attained a Bachelors Degree in: Russian Language and Culture as well as a Masters Degree in Political Science.  Shelley was not your typical full time gymnastics coach/owner/judge!  She had a heart of gold always ready to give to another.
For those who want to know how this precious life came to an end way to early:  Shelley went into the Emergency Room on April 23rd with severe headaches…on the 24th she went into emergency brain surgery to remove two aneurysms.  Though the surgery went well, our sweet Shelley suffered over 100 small strokes either during or following the operation, which left severe brain damage to the front, top and both sides of her brain.  The only part of her brain which showed activity was at the base, near the stem where the surgery took place.
She never regained consciousness, and went from a coma to a vegetative state.  A state in which she, herself, wrote prior to surgery “Do NOT leave me in a vegetative state.”  Ten days went by with continual stimulus response testing, with NO POSITIVE results.  Shelley had some movement with her left arm, and even stroked her dog, Mekkie, when we put her on the bed next to her.  But the doctors assured us, and we saw the brain scans and x-rays, Shelley would never regain consciousness therefore there was no possibility for rehabilitation.
Her life support was removed on May 4th, and to the amazement of all doctors and her family, Shelley survived for two weeks with only morphine in her mouth to off set any discomfort.  Her body was so strong, her tenacity was extreme, but there was little to nothing left of her brain waves.  And so, this precious soul, Shelley Lynne Baker, was to live a life too short, and will be
sorely missed.  Perhaps she gave all of us “type ‘A’ Gymnastic Maniacs” a message, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF; check your blood pressure, your stress and tension levels…take time to REST & REJUVINATE and care for your body, mind and spirit!  Maintain BALANCE to keep yourself healthy on all levels.
Shelley took time last fall, to vacation in Tahiti with her long time boy friend, Ronny.  I recall she sent me pictures and emails about how fantastic it was…that she was ready to retire and move to Tahiti.  Her father had a family gathering for Thanksgiving in Vail six months ago which she enjoyed spending time with her family. .  For Christmas Shelley and  her mother, Sandi went to Cabo…for more relaxation at the oceans edge.   I now can see the perfection in Shelley making the time this past year to spend with family and friends in places near to her heart.
I am grateful that Shelley and I shared a room, and attended the National Compulsory Workshop together in Reno a few years back.  I will relish the memory of her when she met me in Colorado Springs this past Thanksgiving weekend, for a “Goddess Getaway” for only one special day…in which we relaxed and floated for hours in the natural hot springs.  I’ll miss the trip to Hawaii this Memorial Day weekend, which we were to take, as a going away party for her mother, Sandi, who has stage 4 colon cancer…it was to be a family farewell to Sandi.  Now it will be a grieving process for her mother, Sandi and brother, Sean…and their family as they remember their beloved Shelley and reminisce about her life.
For those of you who want to assist:  Shelley had no medical insurance, and the family is keeping her gym open and running until a buyer can take over.  Sandi and Sean would also like to set up a SCHOLARSHIP FUND at Madera Gymnastics for gymnasts in need of financial support for training, as Shelley often provided Team Training for gymnasts in need at little to no cost to the family.  
Financial contributions will be graciously appreciated, please mail to:
Sean Baker
PO Box 905
Alamo, CA  94507
For inquires regarding gym purchase of Madera Gymnastics:
Contact Sean Baker at:  925-984-1416
The family will CELEBRATE SHELLEY’S LIFE at Madera Gymnastics, in the form of a “pot luck” party on Saturday, June 16, 2007.
A farewell party for Shelley without any “yucky food,”  nothing that swims, or is green…especially cabbage of any color.”  Just as Shelley would have wanted.
I am a better coach because of Shelley, I’m a better person for knowing her…it is
my honor to write this memorial letter with loving and reverence for my dearest and precious friend…Shelley Baker.
Reverend Judith Christine Pickrell
National Gymnastics Judge – Region 7
Gymnastics Coach & Choreographer