Remembering someone impossible to forget — Bettina

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Our foundation co-worker leaves a legacy of kindness and love.

Bettina Baker had the most beautiful eyes. They were a piercing blue – “a scary blue,” a friend once said. Her eyes were kind, loving. They held laughter. They held pride whenever she looked at her parents and sisters and nieces and nephews. Like Bettina herself, her eyes were for real.

And they were rare.

What remains?

“Her kindness and her love,” says Lynette Helms, her twin sister. “She was proud of me. She was proud of my family. She loved to brag on us, not herself. Everything she did was for someone else. Period.”

Bettina, who died the other day at her home in southeast Lincoln, was born to Larry and Sharon Lee Baker in Lincoln in 1972. She was born a decade after her oldest sister, Missy, and just two minutes before Lynette.

Lynette smiles.

“She was my big sister by two minutes and she never let me forget it.”

They had a secret twin language. Her parents used to stand outside the twins’ bedroom door at night and listen. They looked exactly alike, although they were not identical twins.

She grew up near Randolph Elementary. She played tackle football with the neighborhood boys – the only girl who would. She played soccer and other sports at Lincoln High, graduating in 1991. She played soccer at Nebraska Wesleyan. Bettina graduated magna cum laude.

Says Lynette: “She was, ‘I got your back, no matter what. Nothing’s going to happen to you because you’re my sister.’ That was Tina.”

She’d do that for a friend. She’d have their back.

She loved Christmas. She loved to decorate trees. One year she decorated three at her home because she couldn’t decide which color she wanted. She made sure her five nieces and nephews got everything on their lists. She and Missy would drive to Lincoln Memorial cemetery and decorate their grandparents’ graves.

She loved to work and she loved her co-workers.

She joined Bailey Lauerman in 1997 as a project manager and worked there until joining Orthopaedic Marketing Group in Omaha in 2004. In 2007, she joined the University of Nebraska Foundation as a project manager.

That job is like the air traffic controller of the communications team. Her role was to make sure every project landed smoothly. She was OCD, her sisters say, and she loved details and proofreading and getting everything just right. When each project was finished, she stamped APPROVED on it in red ink.

I (heart) closing projects.

That is taped to her wall, above the dictionary and AP Stylebook.

Bettina loved to play cards with her co-workers. If they needed help, she was there for them. She helped a co-worker put a roof on her house. She helped another put on new siding. She made it fun.

She had fun running a nacho stand at night at Lincoln’s new arena. “She loved that place,” a co-worker said. “I think it was just the fun of being in the middle of so many people having a great time.”

She was the family photographer. She documented everything.

Her eyes lit up around the family at Table Rock Lake. She was the “glow stick gal,” they joked. She would buy hundreds of glow sticks and decorate the cabin, the picnic tables, her nieces and nephews and herself.

Her biggest pastime was fishing. Especially fishing with her dad. While Missy and Lynette outgrew that passion they all had as kids, Bettina never did. She’d fish everyday, if she could. She and her dad made a bet each time: a dollar for the first fish, a dollar for the biggest fish, and a dollar for the most fish. Bettina almost always won and he’d pay up at the Casey’s General Store with a piece of pizza and, always, a Mountain Dew.

She loved Mountain Dew. She loved Garth Brooks. Pink. Sugarland. Snow — shoveling it. Trapshooting with her dad. The color burgundy. She loved jewelry. She loved life.

And she may have secretly loved it when people told her that her eyes were amazing.

Honoring Bettina

The Bettina L. Baker Memorial Scholarship Fund forever honors the life of Bettina and was created with gifts from her family, friends, coworkers and others. Everyone is welcome to support this special scholarship.

The endowed scholarship provides tuition awards to undergraduate students majoring in advertising and public relations at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Scholarship recipients are selected by the college’s scholarship committee and must demonstrate financial need and be graduates of a Lincoln, Nebraska, high school, with preference given to Lincoln High graduates.

Bettina’s family

Bettina is survived by parents, Larry and Sharon Baker, Lincoln; sister and brother-in-law, Melissa L. and William O. Bahr, Lincoln; twin sister and brother-in-law, Lynette Baker Helms and John Helms, Atlanta; aunts and cousins; nieces, Jaylee and Casey Helms; nephews, Jacob and Adam Bahr, Jackson Helms. She was preceded in death by her grandparents.

Bettina was a member of Heritage Presbyterian Church in Lincoln. Funeral services were held there April 26.

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