By all accounts, Maryann Baker lived a life filled with love.
Born in Savannah, Georgia in 1943, Baker married the love of her life, James Baker, in 1964. They were together for 35 years until his death in 1999. Their three children, Genesia, James, Jr. and Robert, were raised in Pelham Houses in the Bronx.
She loved her family and her community. Her niece, Katrina Asante, said she was a faithful and active member of the Community Protestant Church in the Bronx.
"She had a beautiful singing voice and was part of the choir," Asante said. "She loved the Lord. She loved her family, her friends." And, Asante added, “Everyone loved her cooking."
Baker was a 15-year breast cancer survivor. Getting the call that she had been diagnosed with the coronavirus was a shock to her family members.
"We first got the call on Monday (March 30) that she was in Einstein Medical Center for a possible stroke," Asante said.
The next day, they were told she had COVID-19.
"But she was OK," Asante said. "Half an hour, 45 minutes later, we got the call that she was dead. So many things just don't make sense. It doesn’t feel real."
Baker worked in patient accounts at Jacobi Hospital for 30 years and retired 20 years ago. She never lost her zest for life. She loved to drive, travel around the country, and sing and dance at family celebrations.
"Maryann would be the first to start the line dances at our family cookouts," Asante said.
Baker leaves behind her children, grandchildren, siblings and a lot of friends, who are all mourning a true matriarch.
"She was a person that loved to live life, to be a support to her family, her friends and her church family," Asante said. "She was a mother, sister, aunt, friend and godmother all rolled up into one. She was the light of our life."
Asante said what they will miss most is "her huge heart of love, her compassion and her cooking." But the hardest part, she said, is that when the end came, her aunt was alone.
"She didn’t have her family there to comfort her," Asante said. "She didn’t like being in the hospital, and she wanted to come home."
They cannot come together to grieve now, but later, when this is over, Baker will be buried in Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island, next to her beloved husband, James.